In Bipartisan Vote, Legislators Approve 2024 County Budget With 2% County Property Tax Cut

County Executive Plans Immediate Review

Rockland County legislators voted 13-0 to slightly amend and approve a 2024 County Budget that includes a 2 percent property tax cut, maintains programs and has no layoffs.

“The 2024 budget comes after a decade of hard work that saw the elimination of a deficit, the implementation of new budgeting processes, and the reduction or elimination of county taxes whenever possible, including the motor vehicle tax, the residential energy sales tax, no county property tax increases for 2023 and 2022, and now for 2024, a 2 percent county property tax reduction,” Rockland County Budget & Finance Committee Chairman Legislator Aron Wieder said. “We have truly come a long way.”

The $870 million amended adopted 2024 County Budget reflects a decrease of about $2.6 million – 2 percent – in property taxes. Additionally, there are no layoffs or service cuts, there is additional funding for patriotic observances, additional positions to strengthen Social Services and fund- ing for nonprofit contract agencies.

“We met with the County Executive and his staff and worked in a collaborative way to find common ground on the overall approach to the budget, including expenditures, revenue sources, a property tax reduction, and more,” Legislator Wieder said. “The efforts paid off with a budget that represents our shared values when it comes to Rockland County’s residents and businesses.”

County Budget & Finance Vice Chairman Legislator Michael Grant said, “It has taken years of pointed efforts to get us deeply in the black and with a strong surplus. I am sure that through the continued careful management of the budget, Rockland County will strengthen its fiscal vitality even more.”

County Legislature Minority Leader Lon Hofstein said, “Both the Minority and the Majority members of the County Legislature were able to work together with the County Executive’s Administration in working out a very stable, realistic budget for 2024. The people of Rockland County count on us to deliver, and that’s what this plan does.”

County Executive Ed Day plans to immediately review the 2024 Amended Budget and stated, “I extend my gratitude to the Legislature for their diligent review of my Proposed Budget. The collaborative contributions and innovative ideas emerging from this process mark a triumph for every resident of Rockland, offering a well-defined trajectory for the future. I eagerly anticipate ongoing collaboration with the County Legislature in 2024 and beyond, ensuring the collective well-being and prosperity of the people of Rockland.” County Legislature Chairman Jay Hood Jr. said, “I thank everyone who participated in the review process to make the final version of the budget the best it could be. Our goal is to always provide the most efficient budget possible while maintaining services and programs needed by county residents. It is rare that any municipality is able to reduce taxes and the County was able to do that. We will hopefully have more tax cuts in the future.”

Majority Leader Alden H. Wolfe said, “We made a commitment to the taxpayers that we would right the fiscal ship and rebuild our financial strength. After many years of difficult choices and hard work, we have fulfilled that commitment. I am so appreciative of everyone who worked together to craft a spending plan that preserves all of the vital services our residents and businesses rely on while cutting taxes.”

County government made multiple changes to its budgeting processes as part of addressing the financial crisis, which arose as part of the national housing crisis that so severely impacted communities across America.

Among the processes put in place:

Adoption in 2013 of the county Fiscal Stabilization Act requiring creation of a fund balance account to be used for contingencies such as unexpected decreases in state or federal funding, increases in unfunded mandates, and responses to unexpected damage from weather emergencies (Hurricane Sandy, Irene).

Changes to the County Charter in 2014 that require the County Executive to submit his proposed annual budget by Oct. 1 instead of Oct. 23 to provide additional review time.

Adoption of a law in 2015 to require Legislative approval of any vacant positions filled between Oct. 1 and Dec. 20 of each year.

Increasing oversight in 2017 of nonprofit organizations pursuant to County Law 224, which allows appropriations for certain public benefit services. A Legislative oversight committee and changes in procedures were established, including annual audits and requirements to verify how funding is spent.

Updates throughout the year regarding the status of the budget – where its revenues and expenditures stand.

Continuation of annual detailed budget reviews with the Administration, financial experts and department heads.

Since the County was authorized to issue deficit reduction bonds in the amount of $96 million to liquidate the accumulated deficit, it has been required to submit the proposed budget to the Comptroller’s office for review each year until the debt is paid. This is the final year of such review as Rockland County successfully pays off the deficit in 2024.

Legislator Wieder thanked the County Executive and his staff, Commissioner of Finance Stephen Degroat, Deputy Finance Director Steven Grogan, Director Of Public Policy And Intergovernmental Relations Stephen Powers, and his colleagues and the staff of the County Legislature for their help throughout the budget review process.

“From a deficit of more than $125 million about a decade ago to a surplus today, we have come a very long way, and it is in good part to making the hard decisions that needed to be made, and to the collaborative efforts of the County Executive’s Office and the County Legislature,” Legislator Wieder said. “I hope that spirit of working toward shared goals continues to set the tone as we move forward.”

What’s Next: The County Executive has five working days after receipt of the amended adopted version to issue any vetoes. He has line-item veto power. The Legislature has until Dec. 20 to override any vetoes. It takes a two-thirds vote per veto item to override a veto (Two-thirds is 12 votes).

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