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UPDATED: Vanderhoef Proposes $8.8 Million in Layoffs, New Surcharges to Fix Rockland Finances

Tentative plan would bring in money to fix the 2012 $21 million budget gap

 

Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef unveiled Thursday a comprehensive plan aimed at closing the $21.1 million gap in the county's 2012 budget.

The plan bundles tentative cuts with possible new forms of revenue, all which would not require state legislation to enact. Vanderhoef said work on "Plan B" has been underway for about a month and has included meetings with legislative leaders.  The decision to move forward was based on expectations that the county's Home Rule request for an increased sales tax and other measures would not get state approval. 

"We are taking quick and decisive action to get Rockland County back on solid financial footing," Vanderhoef said Thursday afternoon. "The leadership of the county legislature has been briefed on our plan and will consider the proposals in the next few weeks."

Vanderhoef said the financial shortfall developed over a five year period.

"The county isn't bankrupt," he added. "We're facing a budget gap."

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Vanderhoef noted the $21 million hole and financial drain caused by the Summit Park Hospital & Nursing Home was responsible for Moody's downgrading Rockland's bond rating last week.

The plan calls for $8.8 million in salary savings, or the elimination of about 150 employees. However, that amount would be offset by the $2.1 million the county would have to pay in unemployment benefits, an average of $405 per week. 

"We'll do this by department," Vanderhoef said, noting department leaders will determine which jobs can be cut by determining which ones are mandated and which are non mandated. All county services–from cleaning to potholes to foodstamps—could suffer as a result, he added.

"Most positions have been identified but we are not ready to release it," he said. "This goes to the heart of services in Rockland County. We need to make up $8.8 million so we need to take people who are working hard and remove them."  

Further, Vanderhoef expects the sale of two county buildings—Chase on New Hempstead Road, and a Spring Valley structure—to bring in an additional $2.5 million more than the $5 million originally anticipated.

"We have two buildings that are for sale," he said. "The bids are coming in today by coincidence."

Vanderhoef is also looking to stop the Sheriff's Department from reimbursing towns and villages for their Intelligence Unit officers from July to December of this year, which would put $585,000 back in Rockland's pocket.

The plan is equally centered on new forms of revenue—the strategy would enact a four-percent surcharge on energy sources and services for residential dwellings, raising $5.8 million in the remainder of 2012. 

Other fixes include a new motor vehicle fee of $10 or $20 every two years depending upon the type of vehicle and a $300,000 reduction to to funding to contract agencies.

"Of all the things least favored are layoffs and contract agencies," he said. "In every area the county will not be as efficient or speedy in delivering services."

Two of the measures, Vanderhoef said are in place in other counties. The county would end its payment of non-resident tuition reimbursment for residents attending community colleges outside the county. That burden would be shifted to the towns, which have not been notified of this possible additional $1.8 million expense.

Another revenue source would be a Board of Elections chargeback. That would enable the legislature to charge the towns and villages $1.4 million for Board of Elections services.  Vanderhoef noted 38 counties currently charge this fee to their municipalities.  He pointed out the additional revenue figures proposed are for a six month period, if enacted the amounts would double for 2013.  

The county executive said one alternative that was not pursued was reclaiming all the sales tax raised in the county instead of sharing it with the towns. That would need state approval. 

"We feel including legislative leaders feel that is not the right thing to do," he said. 

Within the next few days, each of the proposed measures will be submitted to the county legislature. The legislature has scheduled a special meeting for May 29.

"None of these issues require state approval," he said. "There will certainly be debate about this." 

As a result of the report on Summit Park submitted to the legislature on Tuesday, Vanderhoef said the county will move forward.

"So dual track on Summit Park Hospital to determine what needs to be done," he said.

Summit Park has cost the county $5 to $10 million annually. The report will be sent to the county's state legislators along with a request to sponsor bills to create a Public Benefit Corporation or PBC. The second avenue will be to send out Requests for Proposal for private groups to submit bids to purchase the nursing home hospital. Vanderhoef said those responses will help the county determine whether Summit Park should become a PBC or be sold.

Other possible service cutbacks brought up the press conference were transferring 23 psychiatric beds from Summit Park to Nyack Hospital and shifting the Prentatal Program to Nyack Hospital for a savings of $700,000. 

Check back frequently as Patch updates this story with more information, photos and video.

Gadfly May 29, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Hey Brian. Why don't you grow a pair? You say unions are no longer needed or wanted BUT you concede they have POWER and now they have to learn to live like you (or people like you. That's the lament of the weak - how about growing a pair and admit that you want to have power to negotiate your wages and benefits with the backing of your fellow workers or are you a corporate robber-baron that steals from shareholders in the dark of night and then claims its for the benefit of the company.
jay May 30, 2012 at 01:03 AM
common sense is not common. those who have long sat at the top of rockland county government have over stayed their welcome, their usefullness and they have lost their way. expecting to be spoon fed information as well as the decisions, apparently unable to think for themselves. while hardworking taxpaying residents, some of whom are county employees are expected to pick up the bill for the disaster that is now a Moodys downgrade to junk bond status; with nothing else left to do, the fat cats who sit in top heavy six figure salary earning positions and the so called leaders want to blame and hurt the old, the sick, and mentally ill vulnerable people who have the misfortune of living in the second highest taxed county in the country, is it any wonder they are being shot in the street, go off bridges, and off the fourth floor of the palisades mall, while commissioners, deputy commissioners, assistants to deputy commmissioners and other so called administrators of rockland county remain in charge and in control of an out of control budget. their plan is to threaten a hundred dedicated lineworkers and county residents with job loss and layoffs, the very people whose job it is to care for the old, sick and mentally ill, while the so called people responsible for the budget crisis remain in power and in charge receiving rich rewards, never once looking in the mirror but try to blame other, this behavior is a clear a case of mismanagement and incompetence at its highest level.
A.Grim October 11, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Clarkstown is broke simply by wasting OUR money. They are in financial crisis but, can go ahead with putting colored decorative concrete, brick, fancy lighting and flowers all along main St.that get watered everyday by 2 guys in a car along with Belgium block curbs and other wasted moniest. NOW THEY WANT TO LAY OFF PEOPLE AND CUT COSTS! They should have put this project on hold off until the town and the economy is in better shape. WHAT A WASTE OF TAXPAYER MONEY DURING THIS TERRIBLE ECONOMY!!!!
Pat Godfrey October 11, 2012 at 04:59 PM
I spoke with Vanderhoef a few times thru this past year. His budget last year according to him was 717 million dollars. Is that crazy? In the last couple of years when we did not have the funds to support such a monstrosity we asked him to make cuts. The best he could do was keep it at present levels. Now we know that is a joke because there is plenty of places he can make cuts in that big a budget. He refused to for a host of reasons. Favors he owes, not having the courage to take on the unions in our county, his belief that government should not take any cuts while the taxpayer needs to sacrifice, who knows what other reasons. I told him that these raises are a big burden to families in the county who are stretching to make ends meet. To people out of work, who take on part time jobs just to have some income, to the elderly on fixed incomes. Do you know what he said? Let them get on welfare, in his mind that was the way to handle it. God forbid he should cut taxes, reduce the size of government, have the unions do some kind of givebacks. We should all get on welfare, I guess that's the answer.
Brian Goudie October 11, 2012 at 06:02 PM
I thought this thread was dead but I see there are still some congenitally angry lefties out there beating their breasts.

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