BY LEGISLATOR ALDEN H. WOLFE
Chairman, Rockland County Legislature
The process of approving the 2017 County budget began with the County Executive’s proposal late last week. As the Charter provides, it now falls upon the Legislature to conduct a thorough review of the proposal, which includes public meetings with residents providing input and County department heads providing answers.
As we do each year, the Legislature will do a top-to-bottom review of the proposed budget, which appears to cut health programs, eliminate funding for critical community needs and create a new tax on County contractors. All of these proposals have the potential to harm local residents and businesses, and will receive a thorough review and discussion.
As always, we will place a priority on minimizing the tax impact on residents and eliminating our outstanding deficit.
The budget review will be conducted by the Budget and Finance Committee and will include discussions on revenues, the state tax cap, mandates, capital projects, departmental needs and the report that the state Comptroller’s Office will provide after reviewing the proposed spending plan.
Of utmost importance is whether or not the proposed budget has realistic revenue expectations so that we do not create a new deficit. In consultation with financial analysts and budget professionals, and with the input of the public, we will consider amending the budget to ensure that it is realistic and meets the needs of our residents. As has been the case in years past, it is my hope that working through this process with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will result in a bipartisan consensus.
Reading online posts about the budget review process is no substitute for seeing it first-hand. The public is encouraged to be an active participant by attending our review sessions and telling us what you think at the public hearing on November 15th at 7:00 in the chambers of the Legislature. Please note that the review schedule is subject to change. Check the Legislature’s homepage on the county website for updates: www.rocklandgov.com.
The information will also be available on the Legislature’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/rockleg.