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(UPDATE) Zebrowski Proposes Financial Rescue Plan For Rockland County

Financial board would oversee budget process, with Rockland required to come up with multi-year budget plans.

, D-New City, says he has a plan that could help Rockland County solve is .

While the plan includes an increase in the county's , it also includes the formation of a task force appointed by the state and the county to monitor Rockland budget and also requiring the county develop a multi-year budget.

Zebrowski said Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he would consider the plan.

Three legislative bills are part of the plan. Zebrowski said one measure would potentially save Rockland $1.3 million in lowering its pension costs and the other two are more preventative measures to prevent a financial crisis  like this from occurring again — including a fiscal indicator system for the county's budget.

Rockland County has a $40 million budget gap. On Thursday, Moody’s Investor’s Service downgraded Rockland County’s bond rating to Baa3 from A3 on  and revised its outlook to negative.

Ron Levine, a spokesman for County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef, said that Vanderhoef, County Legislature Chairwoman Harriet Cornell, D-West Nyack, and several county Legislative leaders were meeting Friday afternoon to discuss county finances. The said they learned that Zebrowski had crafted legislation to assist the county with its financial shortfall.

Levine said details were not clear on Friday, but that all present were appreciative that another Rockland County state legislator had stepped up the plate to support county government in these tough fiscal times.

Here are the details of the latest proposal to rescue Rockland County:

Rockland County Deficit Reduction Taskforce

Taskforce – 9 Members Board

  • 4 appointed by Governor – of which one is the Chairperson of Taskforce.
  • 1 appointment by Temporary President of Senate.
  • 1 appointment by Speaker of Assembly.
  • 1 appointment by Rockland County Executive.
  • 1 appointment by Chairperson of the Rockland County Legislature.
  • 1 appointment by the State Comptroller.
  • Taskforce recommendations, oversight or monitoring ends in three years and may be extended by vote of the Taskforce
  • All reports and recommendations by the Task Force shall be made public and accessible.

Powers and Duties

  • Require the County to annually prepare and submit a balanced multi-year financial plan.
  • Require the County to review the annual and multi-year budget recommendations of the Taskforce and make adjustments to the annual and multi-year budget for each recommendation. If the County Executive and County Legislature wish to reject any of the submitted recommendations, the County must enact a local law for each individual recommendation that it seeks to reject and must be approved by two-thirds of the County Legislature.
  • Prepare quarterly budget reports and submit such reports to the governing board and chief executive officer of the County, the State Director of the Budget, the State Comptroller, the Chair of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and the Taskforce.
  • Submit the County tentative or preliminary budget to the Taskforce no later than 30 days before the budget has to be adopted, for review and recommendations.
  • Review the operations, structure and services of the Summit Park Nursing home and make recommendations for a long term plan.
  • Review the revenue sharing arrangement between the County, Towns and Villages and make a recommendation for long term changes.

Sales Tax

  • Initially authorizes a ¼ of 1% increase in sales tax for three years and must be reviewed every two years thereafter as deemed necessary. The original proposal called for an increase of 3/8 of 1% for a ten year period with no option to discontinue prior.
  • The deficit financing will be backed by an intercept option of state aid or local sales tax by the State Comptroller to ensure proper collateral.

Preventative Measures

  • Creates the Local Government Fiscal Indicator System that will monitor local government finances to determine whether they are experiencing fiscal stress. The legislation provides for appropriate state fiscal intervention depending on the severity of the stress to prevent further economic decline.  This early warning system will prevent situations like Rockland County from occurring in the future.
  • Requires all cities, counties and all towns and villages with annual budgets in excess of $10 million to annually prepare and submit multi-year financial plans to the State Comptroller for review.
Fredie Fender May 16, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Wow, only Anne above has professed some knowledge of something. The rest.... CLUELESS. And learn how to type and/or spell please. Watchdog. Now that's a good one! You couldn't watch yourself in a mirror, never mind the community. LOSER.
Watchdog May 16, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Freddie, washing bedpans is not a good career path. You can do better.
Seth Feldman May 17, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Stay on them Fredie. Nice job. This guy named 'watchdog' appears to be one of those who have nothing better to do with their lives than blog the local news and politics. As someone who is fully versed in town of Clarkstown and county of Rockland politics and policy, I can attest to the fact that Ken Z's proposed rescue plan is the best of what's available and should stop the bleeding. And at the same time the hospital sale to a private entity can be addressed and hopefully made reality. The tax will be necessary because the chances of the state of NY coming forward with a bailout handout are slim. Sorry, but NO MATTER WHO WAS AT THE HELM, and NO MATTER WHO IS AT THE HELM, this financial situation was unavoidable at the local (county) level and just tossing out the current management will not fix things. Watchdoggie and hirschbag, get some lives please. You waste everyone's time on here.
Watchdog May 17, 2012 at 12:47 PM
So according to "Seth", it does not matter who you vote for, you will get the same result. Unbelievable comment.
Walt May 17, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Unavoidable? Perhaps if the RC legislature supported the cuts that Vanderhoef originally proposed in the last budget or if Vanderhoef showed some guts and stood up to the RC legislature and didn't sign what they sent back to him which raised our taxes 30% and had zero cuts to the budget, we would at least be going in the right direction. This new proposal is GARBAGE. They now want to form (and pay for) a task force to do EXACTLY what they were elected to do in the first place but also raise our sales tax to boot. Talk about throwing good money after bad. So sorry you had to lower yourself into the putrid trenches to comment on this thread, we appreciate it. You can now go back to your fine china and lace curtains and continue to look down your nose at the great unwashed masses that are actually concerned about their tax dollars.

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