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Rockland County Executive Joins With Other Officials In Call For Pension Reform

Bipartisan coalition of county executives, legislative leaders and mayors start campaign to pass Gov. Cuomo’s pension reform proposal.

 

Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef joined with other county executives and mayors from across New York State in announcing the formation of a bipartisan coalition to address skyrocketing . The members of New York Leaders for Pension Reform announced Thursday they will lead a statewide campaign to ensure state legislators understand the importance to local governments of passing Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s reform plan.  The governor’s plan would get pension costs under control without reducing retirement benefits for any public employee.

“I strongly support Governor Cuomo’s pension reform legislation. Under this proposed reform, new employee contribution rates would increase, bringing much-needed relief to county governments like Rockland,” said Vanderhoef, who is one of the Coalition’s founding members. “It is vital that the state government address the huge unfunded mandate liability of pensions, which have significantly increased costs to the 62 counties of New York.”

Rockland is paying $23 million in pension costs this year compared to $17.9 in 2011.  

The Coalition noted pension costs borne by local governments increased from $1.7 billion in 2002 to $12.5 billion in 201, a jump of more than 630 percent. Coalition members pointed out how local pension payments have already significantly reduced localities’ ability to fund education, public safety, social services, economic development and other services.  They predicted if costs continue to escalate they will result in future severe budget cuts or tax increases.

Gov. Cuomo’s plan will create a new tier of pension benefits, Tier 6, for yet-to-be-hired employees who are participating in the state and New York City retirement systems. Existing employees and retirees will be unaffected. The new plan would raise the retirement age for newly hired employees, and exclude overtime from the formula used to calculate the final average salary for pension payments. Additionally, it would provide employees with the option of participating in a defined contribution plan.

Pension costs in Rockland are a significant burden on county government. But the costs trail those of Medicaid, Early Intervention and PreK and Health Care. Rockland's Medicaid costs are $73 million this year and Early Intervention and PreK is running about $50 million.

Coalition members characterized the rise in pension costs as unsustainable and something that needs to be addressed to relieve pressure on taxpayers and local services.

The 25 founding members of New York Leaders for Pension Reform are:

County Executives and Legislative Leaders

  • Rockland: County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef
  • Albany: County Executive Daniel P. McCoy
  • Dutchess: County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro
  • Erie: County Executive Mark Poloncarz
  • Genesee: Legislature Chair Mary Pat Hancock
  • Monroe: County Executive Maggie Brooks
  • Nassau: County Executive Edward P. Mangano
  • Oneida: County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr.
  • Onondaga: County Executive Joanne M. Mahoney
  • Orange: County Executive Edward A. Diana
  • Suffolk: County Executive Steve Bellone
  • Westchester: County Executive Robert P. Astorino
  • Wyoming: Chairman of the County of Board of Supervisors Douglas Berwanger

Mayors

  • Albany: Mayor Gerald D. Jennings
  • Hornell: Mayor Shawn Hogan
  • Jamestown: Mayor Samuel Teresi
  • New York City: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
  • New Rochelle: Mayor Noam Bramson
  • Ogdensburg: Mayor William D. Nelson
  • Plattsburg: Mayor Donald M. Kasprzak
  • Rochester: Mayor Thomas S. Richards
  • Syracuse: Mayor Stephanie Miner
  • Utica: Mayor Robert A. Palmieri
  • Watertown: Mayor Jeff Graham
  • White Plains: Mayor Thomas M. Roach
elizabeth February 25, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Oh, by the way, Nancy Low Hogan, the newly elected County representative, was 1 of 2 Orangetown Board members, who refused to rescind her override vote on the 2% tax cap, despite the pleas of a number of town residents at the adoption meeting. Fortunately, three other members finally did the right thing, and the tax cap was voted in. The next time she runs, do not vote for her!
Sal Monella February 27, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Whats a pension?
stephany February 27, 2012 at 05:38 AM
I'd like to know how many nys pension checks, including teachers and police, are being deposited in banks in states with no income tax--fla,texas,nevada. a NYS pension is pretty sweet if you live in NY but it can more than double your quality of life and cash on hand if the cost of living is cut in 1/2 or more and you pay no state income tax. Cuomo must know that stat. a lot of the problem is the length of time people get checks, police can collect a check for more than half their life starting at birth and potentially 3 times the amount of yrs they actually worked. teachers retire at 55 that's about 1 to 1-30 work 30 pension Put the ball in the new employees court,, 3 choices..do you want to make more now and retire with state pension at 65+ or make less now and retire with state pension at 58+ with the retirement benefit for both based solely on average salary of all years worked minus overtime or make the most now and go with a 401K they fully fund and manage. under no circumstance can the salary be more than 110% of what the private sector gets for the equivalent job.
ADK February 27, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Stephany...believe it or not but most (all) NYS pensions are NYS tax free!!
stephany February 27, 2012 at 04:25 PM
If you live in NY where the cost of living is high. Most 70+ yr old none public retirees are moving to Fla etc to retire and not to work + collect a pension. That is where the no state income tax helps FLA is only 6% NY is 8.5 or so. None of the states I mentioned tax nys pensions but more than 30 states do. Maybe NY could tax future pensions for new employees that are shipped to any other state for the first 5+++ yrs. All things considered I imaging we could be paying our public employees at least twice what they are getting in fla probably with better benefits. to retire to fla at 40 or 55 with a 50% NYS pension is like having a no show job with the best of benefits. Tax the pensions we ship out of state for the first 5 yrs. If your state is good enough to give you a pension it should be good enough to live in and spend some of it for 5 yrs after you retire from the job but not from working. Non public sector NY workers are looking at no retirement except for SS or waiting till 75,55+20 or 40+35, to start collecting while public sector employees have already been collecting and working part time at least for 20-35 yrs in another state. 5 yrs is not too much to ask. maybe 10 is better. NY may also exempt the first $20,000 of Out-of-state government pensions, which could be the whole thing. if someone is dumb enough to move here they need to pay tax on it all.

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