ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. – Rockland County Executive Ed Day outlined where Rockland has been, where it is and where it’s going in his annual State of the County message Tuesday night.
“We have been working for three years to transform this county from near bankruptcy with an unsustainable tax-and-spend cycle to what it is today – a county that stayed within a very strict 1.17 tax increase, a county that cut spending nearly 10 percent, a county with four consecutive bond-rating increases, a county government that is getting smaller and more efficient, a county that works to make sure that all of our diverse residents have a voice and a county where the laws apply to all,” said Day, who delivered his address to members of the Rockland Legislature in accordance with county law.
Day outlined the promises he has made and the promises he has kept as he and his administration conclude its third year.
He also announced new information about the county’s deficit and outlined other initiatives.
The deficit is now projected to be $10 million – more than a 90 percent reduction from $138 million when Day took office.
For the first time in at least five years, the county was able to pay its $32 million pension bill to the state without financing it. The 7.5 percent interest on financing has cost the county millions in the past.
The Rental Registry will begin next month. This is another program created by Day’s administration to maintain the quality of life for all residents and to ensure that all landlords are following the rules. It requires owners of rental units to pay a one-time $25 fee to register and will allow the county Department of Health to keep track of these housing units.
In 2016, the Rockland Codes Initiative received almost 1,200 complaints. A total of 6,574 violations – a third of them critical, life-threatening safety violations were cited by county inspectors. The county has assessed nearly $1.15 million in fines since starting this program in 2015.
Sunday service on the Tappan Zee Express buses will begin next month. This service improves transportation and addresses the value gap that still exists between what Rockland residents pay to the MTA and what they get in return. Also, new bus service from Blue Hill Plaza in Pearl River, the heart of the county’s business community, into mid-town Manhattan began this week.
In the last 3 years the county has identified $3.5 million in Medicaid and other benefit costs that were received by ineligible people. The county also avoided an additional $3.4 million in costs by identifying ineligible people at initial application and by finding and removing ineligible people who were already receiving benefits. That is nearly $7 million in savings.
During the address, the County Executive also outlined the county’s greatly improved fiscal health, including the collection of nearly $3 million in back taxes owed on non-residential properties, new business coming to Rockland and his effort to get the state to consider North Rockland as the site for clean, affordable power plants once Indian Point closes.
He also mentioned the success his administration has had attracting grants, including state and federal funds for improvements at Haverstraw Bay Park, a very selective grants to encourage breastfeeding and funds to improve mental health services for youth.
The County Executive concluded his address by recognizing the employees and volunteers who make Rockland a wonderful place.
Ramona Jaime, a 22-year employee in the Department of Social Service who, along with Spring Valley police Detective Eugene Suarez, helped save a family from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Al Magnatta of Congers and Stuart Gates of Stony Point, both of whom have been volunteering for the fire service for more than 70 years.