Ensures Nonprofits’ Funding, Eliminates New $200 Transfer Tax, Adds $3.5 Million For Employee Contract Settlements

New City, NY (Dec. 5, 2018) – The Rockland County Legislature voted 10-7 Tuesday to adopt an amended 2019 County Budget.

The adopted budget remains under the state tax cap and the property tax increase remains at 2.9 percent.

“As always, it took a lot of work to get to this point,” Legislature Chairman Toney L. Earl said. “A budget rarely pleases everyone on every front, but I believe we adopted a spending plan that meets the needs of County government and its residents.

“We saw last night that we still have work to do as a body to try to come to agreement on a number of issues,” Legislator Earl said. “I hope we can do that in the coming weeks and in the new year.”

Earl thanked Legislator Jay Hood, chairman of the Budget & Finance Committee, and Fiscal Analyst Nicole Doliner for their tremendous efforts regarding the detailed budget review that was conducted in recent months. He also thanked Legislator Michael Grant for proposing additional budget schedules.

Highlights of the 2019 Adopted Budget:

  • The adopted budget ensures funding for more than 50 nonprofit organizations providing vital services to county residents. It allocates specific sums to specific agencies so the organizations are clear on what they will receive in 2019. The proposed budget only contained the funding in “bulk” without noting what amount agencies would get.
  • The adopted budget eliminates a new transfer tax on real estate transactions. The proposed budget sought to charge $200 per deed verification transaction even though most of such verification work is already done by private title companies.
  • The adopted budget adds $3.5 million into a reserve fund to help with employee contract settlements. The proposed budget only set aside $1.5 million, well short of the funding that could be needed to settle union contracts.
  • The $3.5 million in revenues to pay for this action will come from the forfeiture of the down payment by the would-be buyer of Summit Park Nursing Home once his court appeals are completed. The Legislature’s outside fiscal consultant opined that the funds could be used for budget purposes.
  • The adopted budget cut four proposed new positions, but left in two new jobs included in the County Executive’s proposed budget, both in the County Executive’s office – a Chief of Staff and an Assistant to the County Executive II, costing a total of $190,640. The action was taken based on the understanding that the Executive and Legislative branches historically have not meddled in each other’s offices and personnel needs.
  • The adopted budget also increases the estimate for sale tax revenues by $674,550, slightly more than the Legislature’s outside fiscal consultant’s suggested limit.

The budget vote fell along party lines – 10 Democrats voted to adopt it; six Republicans and one legislator who has no party affiliation voted against it.

The adopted budget next goes to the County Executive, who has line-item veto power. He can accept the entire amended budget, reject some or all of it, or take no action, which is the same as approving it.

The County Legislature has until Dec. 20 to override any vetoes or the amended version with the vetoes becomes the budget. It takes a two-thirds vote per veto item to override a veto. Two-thirds is 12 votes.

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