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2022 Budget Adds $400,000 To Office of Economic Development & Tourism
COUNTY GOVERNMENT NEWS
Rockland County Executive Ed Day’s 2022 proposed budget of $774,895,030 holds a lot of promise: There is no property tax increase, no layoffs, and no program cuts. Day is running for re-election on Nov. 2.
The 2022 Proposed Budget includes:
- $10 million for the Open Space program which has a goal of acquiring areas of scenic beauty, environmentally sensitive lands, farms, and Hudson River waterfront areas.
- $8 million in a contractual reserve to settle open union contracts.
- $2.5 million for the renovation of the current highway garage in New City.
- $467,000 for possible increases in funding to nonprofit contract agencies and 224 agencies.
The budget also proposes an increase in county dollars of $400,000 to the Office of Economic Development and Tourism over the prior year budget, which was $1,460,675. The additional monies would be targeted to establish a small business grant program in 2022.
“We know that so many businesses were negatively impacted by the pandemic and more recently by Hurricane Ida. These funds have been allocated to assist our business community.
The budget also proposes $467,000 for “possible justified increases in funding” to nonprofit contract agencies and 224 additional organizations.
“Any funding going to these agencies is attached directly to performance expectations,” said Day.
Day must submit the proposed budget to the County Legislature by Oct. 1. The Legislature must hold a public hearing on the proposed budget by Nov. 20th. The county has until Dec. 7 to adopt the budget and/or submit changes to the county executive. If the Legislature takes no action, the budget is deemed adopted. If the Legislature amends the proposed budget; it goes to the County Executive for review; he has five working days after receipt of the amended version to veto it. He has line-item veto power.
The county has until December 20 to override, or the amended version with any vetoes becomes the budget. It takes a two-thirds vote (12 votes) per veto item to override a veto.
The County of Rockland has recovered from a $138 million deficit in 2014 to a $92 million fund balance or surplus at the end of 2020. The County Executive credited conservative budgeting, responsible economic growth and the hard work, insight and creativity of county employees for this incredible turnaround.
“When the pandemic struck, we acted immediately,” said Day. “Our department heads, including the elected offices of the Sheriff, the District Attorney and the County Clerk took action to mitigate the financial impacts by implementing austerity measures, instituting a hiring freeze, applying for FEMA Disaster Assistance, and reducing our Capital Borrowing. This was a whole government approach, and in a bi-partisan fashion, Rockland closed ranks to protect our residents, our businesses, and your tax dollars.”
These protective actions, the county executive continued, coupled with a rebounding economy in 2020, resulted in county government underspending by $65 million and an additional $25 million fund balance or surplus despite a $40 million decrease in revenues.
“We will continue our prudent and protective practices. We will not stop looking for ways to improve efficiencies while eliminating delays and unnecessary costs. We will rebuild Rockland so that it works better for every one of our residents. And we will continue to do so in sustainable ways to preserve our county for future generations. We are building resiliency so that we can handle whatever comes next. Whether that be another unknown disease, economic crisis, or climate change event. We are not nearly finished with the renaissance of Rockland County government,” concluded Day.
The county executive mentioned that Standard & Poor’s (S&P) this summer raised the county’s long-term, underlying rating two notches from A-plus to Double “A,” noting that Rockland’s outlook remains stable.
“Receiving two double rating upgrades this summer was truly incredible as they mark well over a dozen credit rating upgrades after years of downgrades and near-junk bond credit ratings.
Day said the county saved $2.5 million on the costs of 2021 capital borrowing, which includes spending on the highway garage and other infrastructure projects.
“These rating upgrades allowed us to refinance three of our old bonds this year,” said Day.