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Orangetown Council Votes to Charge County for Road Utilities

Maintenance would include streetlights, traffic lights and fire hydrants on county roads

The Orangetown Town Council approved a resolution at Tuesday’s meeting to .

Two weeks ago, the Clarkstown Town Board approved a similar resolution, as all to the county. According to the resolution passed at the Orangetown meeting on Tuesday, a review of the utilities showed that Orangetown was paying for the costs to maintain street lights, traffic lights and fire hydrants along county roads within the town, while the county has a highway department to maintain highway roads.

A discussion about the resolution Tuesday night touched on whether or not it was vindictive of the towns to charge the county for such utilities. Earlier this year, the county shifted the costs for election expenses and community college chargebacks to the towns. Last Wednesday, Rockland County Legislator Ilan Schoenberger strongly criticized the towns' plan.

Ultimately, the resolution passed Tuesday by a vote of 4-1 with Councilman Denis Troy voting against it.

“This is just counterproductive in doing the same thing that they did and I think we’re heading down the wrong path,” Troy said. “I believe what they did was dead wrong, particularly doing it in the middle of the year. It doesn’t make us any more right.”

Councilman Thomas Diviny said he didn’t think the resolution was vindictive or counterproductive.

“You can’t put a budget out there which we rely on and go back and forth, and then change it mid-stream,” Diviny said.

Part of the reason Diviny said he was in favor of the resolution is because the county shifting costs to the towns in the middle of the year hurts the towns’ budgets.

“You can’t expect the towns to make up for your mistakes in the past,” he said. “We are very conservative with our budgets and we had no reason to think the county would do this to us. We can’t budget effectively, especially with the two-percent cap.”

Pearl River resident Michael Mandel was the only person to speak about the issue during public comments. He sided with Diviny and the others who voted in favor of the resolution.

“It’s going to destroy our budgetary process this year, a process that everybody on the board worked very hard on,” Mandel said of the county chargebacks.

Supervisor Andy Stewart had another reason for voting in favor of the resolution, which was simply it makes sense for accountability as the county would be paying for county roads. 

“You often hear the statement that all the taxes come out of the taxpayers’ pocket and what difference does it make which government scale is charging it? It makes a really big difference in terms of accountability if we’re responsible for our budget and they’re responsible for their budget,” Stewart said. “Granted, it’s all going to paid for by the taxpayers in one way or another, but that taxpayer needs to know who to speak with, who to go to to find out exactly how that money is being spent. When you have cost-shifting with the tuitions and the elections and so on, the entity that’s paying for it isn’t the one that really can speak to the program and how that money’s being spent.”

John Roache July 25, 2012 at 03:30 PM
In the Know: There is A LOT more than that, believe me. Where is the Orangetown Legislator John Murphy on all this? Has anyone seen or heard from him? The worst times in Rockland financial history and he goes missing? It seems the only contact he has with the his District taxpayers is every fourth September when he is running for election. Maybe he is tourinng Italy again.
Think4urself July 25, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Touring Italy again? How does one do that on a "public servant's" salary?
John Roache July 25, 2012 at 03:59 PM
He is hardly a "public servant". Seriously, where has he been. I think he is more concerned about what goes on at the Nathan Klien Institute in RPC and is oblivious to the financial conditions of the County and his legislative district. Call the Orangetown Police and file a missing persons report.
Jimmy July 25, 2012 at 04:32 PM
John, Easy does it he is a decorated war veteran. You may not like him but go easy. Maybe you should seek elective office. I am thinking about it.
John Roache July 25, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Jimmy, Good luck to you. We can use some new blood. As for Mr. Murphy, I know he was in the marines. I did not know he was a decorated war veteran. And I know he does a lot for people with mental illness and the people who work with them. He should be commended for that and he often is. But as a taxpayer in his legislative district, I often feel undereepresented as I never see or here from him as all of these new taxes and assessments are tacked on to my tax bill. He has been in office for 40 years as he will let you know. There is a problem on the county government level, a huge problem, and he is my representitive. I would like to know where he stands and what he is doing to protect the interests of his district. Plain and simple. I respect John Murphy as a humanitarian and thank him for his service. As a legislator for the taxpayers in his district, I feel he can be a little more active.

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