Next year's proposed $709 million budget for Rockland County would raise property taxes by 2.9 percent, County Executive Ed Day announced on Monday, Oct. 1.
While unveiling the proposed 2019 budget, Day said it remains under the state's 3 percent cap on annual property tax increases while fully funding not-for-profits, investing in law enforcement and reviving the Office for People with Disabilities.
Day detailed his proposed spending plan at the Sheriff’s Backup Communications Center in New City, accompanied by Sheriff Louis Falco; because of its renewed focus on the needs of law enforcement and public safety. The entire budget announcement can be watched on the county's Facebook page by clicking here.
Included as new projects in the 2019 Proposed Capital Budget for the Sheriff’s Department are a new Mobile Command Vehicle, new Mobile Data Terminals, upgraded BCI Operating and Forensic Equipment, an Elevator Upgrade and Building Improvements, and Improvements to the Jail Security Control Systems. These projects are priorities that will be paid for with a bond issue when the county is financially able to do so, the county said in a press statement.
“When I took office, the Comptroller’s Office listed Rockland as the most fiscally stressed county in the state. But just last week New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released the 2017 Fiscal Stress Monitoring System report which showed Rockland County as now having 'Moderate Stress;' an incredible turn around," Day said in his statement.
"The number of municipalities that are now under 'significant stress' has more than doubled on the Comptroller’s latest report. This makes Rockland’s achievements and improvements even more remarkable,” Day said. “It also clearly shows that we still face serious challenges. Our financial health is improving, but our problems have not disappeared. The success of the past four years does not carry over to a new proposed budget plan.”
No county government layoffs are proposed, but 28 vacant positions will be eliminated from the budget, which pays for 1,708 public employees.
Rockland County had to deal with a $13 million budget gap, Day said, noting that four major contributors to this gap were:
- The State Health Insurance Plan increased premiums by more than 7 percent -- nearly $5 million more to pay for the Empire Plan.
- Salary costs for contractual increases such an incremental longevity steps and cost of living increases rose by more than $3 million and compound annually.
- The county's debt service -- the payments it makes on bonds -- rose nearly $3 million due to increasing interest rates and the county's commitment to rebuild and revitalize infrastructure, such as roads, utilities and bridges.
- Costs for the state mandated programs have increased by nearly $1.7 million. These include programs such as Early Intervention, Pre-Kindergarten and several social service programs.
These four issues alone would translate to a roughly 10 percent county property tax increase, Day said. This is on top of other mandated costs like Medicaid at $66 million a year -- more than half the cost of the total county property tax levy.
For the average Rockland residential property owner, taxes will increase about $37 a year.
The budget also calls for funds to be set aside for labor contract negotiations.
The budget proposal will be posted on the county's website at http://budget.rocklandgov.com
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