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Rockland Legislators Lash Out After Failure To Override Budget

Rockland County Legislature Chairman Alden H. Wolfe is upset lawmakers could not garner enough votes to override the vetoes of the County Executive. Photo Credit: Rockland County Government
Rockland County Legislator Michael Grant, chairman of the Budget & Finance Committee, is also upset over the lack of votes to override the vetoes of the county executive. Photo Credit: Rockland County Government

This story has been updated.

ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- Some Rockland County legislators are spitting mad after failing to gather enough votes to override County Executive Ed Day's vetoes to the 2017 budget.

Legislature Chairman Alden Wolfe and Legislator Michael Grant, chairman of the Budget & Finance Committee said in a statement that the failure to override the vetoes has left Rockland County government with zero dedicated funding for deficit reduction, zero funding for 31 nonprofit organizations, zero funding for labor contracts already negotiated and the impending layoffs of nine county workers.

“In short, due to the refusal of six members of the legislative minority to support an override of the county executive’s vetoes, we now have a budget that falls short on numerous fronts and unnecessarily cuts into the very heart of what helps make our county such a wonderful place to live,” Wolfe said.

Legislators voted 11-6 to override the vetoes, but 12 votes were needed to accomplish the task.

According to the two lawmakers, the failure to override the County Executive’s vetoes also means county property owners will see a 1.2 percent property tax increase, the first since 2007. This is a claim Day said is factually incorrect, noting that the legislature approved budgets with a tax increase of 30 percent in 2012, 18 percent in 2013, 11 percent in 2014 and Wolfe and Grant voted to double Day’s proposed tax increase of 4 percent in 2015 to put in place a 9.9 percent tax increase. This year’s budget contains a 1.17 percent tax increase.

Some of that tax increase will go to pay for a $50,000 increase in postage funding for mailings out of the county executive’s office next year, a nearly $1,000 a week increase in funding for mailings – the same amount of money could fund 12 non-profits, they added.

Grant said the failure of the veto overrides means that the budget now reverts almost entirely to the county executive’s original version.

“The version we are left with is plagued with issues and leaves us vulnerable to criticism from the state Comptroller’s Office,” Grant said.

Grant claims there is now a $750,000 shortfall in revenue to cover salary increases negotiated between the county executive and the Sheriffs’ Deputies union.

One of the main points of contention continues to be with the sale of the beleaguered Sain building. An ongoing battle between the legislature and  Day has prevented the building from being sold and the county benefiting from the $4.5 million sale price.

Wolfe and Grant said they had budgeted to use $4 million for dedicated deficit reduction; an additional $500,000 would have been used for operating revenue and that Day is instead, trying to tie the sale of the building to funding for local non-profits.

Finally, they added, if the Sain building does not sell in 2017, then the amount to be put toward deficit reduction would be impacted. But under Day's 2016 plan, if no sales tax surplus had resulted, the county’s overall deficit would have increased because he budgeted the money as an operating revenue.

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