Keeping Legislative Costs Down

By Legislator Jay Hood, Jr. (D – Haverstraw)
Vice Chair
Rockland County Legislature

Jay HoodWhile governments everywhere continue to try to contain spending each year, especially in the “tax cap” era, in Rockland, we have learned to do more with less.

To begin with, our County budget is the lowest it has been in four years. By making the difficult decisions during the tough years, the Legislature set the County on a positive track for the long-term.

The office of the County Legislature itself has led by example. While other County Legislatures across the state reimburse Legislators and staff members for various expenses, there is no such reimbursement taking place in Rockland. No cell phones, no government vehicles, no reimbursements of any kind. We are watching every tax dollar. If anyone tells you we, as a body, are not looking out for you- they are lying.

According to a recent independent study, not only are other Legislators’ salaries significantly higher, but Legislatures in nearby Counties have also racked up thousands of dollars in extra expenses that taxpayers paid for. In 2015, the Westchester Legislature spent over $21,000 on expenses. In Rockland, that amount was $0.

Other County Legislatures pay for expenses such as trips to government conferences, cell phone bills, and other expenses that elected officials generally accrue as part of their service. In the Rockland County Legislature, every Legislator pays for their own cell phone bills, and those who attend conferences do so out of their own pocket – and do not even put in a basic reimbursement for the mileage they put on their personal cars.

Public service ought to be just that, and for that reason, no Legislator – not even the Chair – is provided with any County vehicle to use, even for official uses. While other Counties may have a different approach, ours is very clear.

Being careful with your tax dollars is a priority for us. We should all take pride in the fact that our efforts have yielded greater financial stability for Rockland County heading into the future.

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