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UPDATED: Vanderhoef Proposes $8.8 Million in Layoffs, New Surcharges to Fix Rockland Finances

Tentative plan would bring in money to fix the 2012 $21 million budget gap

 

Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef unveiled Thursday a comprehensive plan aimed at closing the $21.1 million gap in the county's 2012 budget.

The plan bundles tentative cuts with possible new forms of revenue, all which would not require state legislation to enact. Vanderhoef said work on "Plan B" has been underway for about a month and has included meetings with legislative leaders.  The decision to move forward was based on expectations that the county's Home Rule request for an increased sales tax and other measures would not get state approval. 

"We are taking quick and decisive action to get Rockland County back on solid financial footing," Vanderhoef said Thursday afternoon. "The leadership of the county legislature has been briefed on our plan and will consider the proposals in the next few weeks."

Vanderhoef said the financial shortfall developed over a five year period.

"The county isn't bankrupt," he added. "We're facing a budget gap."

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Vanderhoef noted the $21 million hole and financial drain caused by the Summit Park Hospital & Nursing Home was responsible for Moody's downgrading Rockland's bond rating last week.

The plan calls for $8.8 million in salary savings, or the elimination of about 150 employees. However, that amount would be offset by the $2.1 million the county would have to pay in unemployment benefits, an average of $405 per week. 

"We'll do this by department," Vanderhoef said, noting department leaders will determine which jobs can be cut by determining which ones are mandated and which are non mandated. All county services–from cleaning to potholes to foodstamps—could suffer as a result, he added.

"Most positions have been identified but we are not ready to release it," he said. "This goes to the heart of services in Rockland County. We need to make up $8.8 million so we need to take people who are working hard and remove them."  

Further, Vanderhoef expects the sale of two county buildings—Chase on New Hempstead Road, and a Spring Valley structure—to bring in an additional $2.5 million more than the $5 million originally anticipated.

"We have two buildings that are for sale," he said. "The bids are coming in today by coincidence."

Vanderhoef is also looking to stop the Sheriff's Department from reimbursing towns and villages for their Intelligence Unit officers from July to December of this year, which would put $585,000 back in Rockland's pocket.

The plan is equally centered on new forms of revenue—the strategy would enact a four-percent surcharge on energy sources and services for residential dwellings, raising $5.8 million in the remainder of 2012. 

Other fixes include a new motor vehicle fee of $10 or $20 every two years depending upon the type of vehicle and a $300,000 reduction to to funding to contract agencies.

"Of all the things least favored are layoffs and contract agencies," he said. "In every area the county will not be as efficient or speedy in delivering services."

Two of the measures, Vanderhoef said are in place in other counties. The county would end its payment of non-resident tuition reimbursment for residents attending community colleges outside the county. That burden would be shifted to the towns, which have not been notified of this possible additional $1.8 million expense.

Another revenue source would be a Board of Elections chargeback. That would enable the legislature to charge the towns and villages $1.4 million for Board of Elections services.  Vanderhoef noted 38 counties currently charge this fee to their municipalities.  He pointed out the additional revenue figures proposed are for a six month period, if enacted the amounts would double for 2013.  

The county executive said one alternative that was not pursued was reclaiming all the sales tax raised in the county instead of sharing it with the towns. That would need state approval. 

"We feel including legislative leaders feel that is not the right thing to do," he said. 

Within the next few days, each of the proposed measures will be submitted to the county legislature. The legislature has scheduled a special meeting for May 29.

"None of these issues require state approval," he said. "There will certainly be debate about this." 

As a result of the report on Summit Park submitted to the legislature on Tuesday, Vanderhoef said the county will move forward.

"So dual track on Summit Park Hospital to determine what needs to be done," he said.

Summit Park has cost the county $5 to $10 million annually. The report will be sent to the county's state legislators along with a request to sponsor bills to create a Public Benefit Corporation or PBC. The second avenue will be to send out Requests for Proposal for private groups to submit bids to purchase the nursing home hospital. Vanderhoef said those responses will help the county determine whether Summit Park should become a PBC or be sold.

Other possible service cutbacks brought up the press conference were transferring 23 psychiatric beds from Summit Park to Nyack Hospital and shifting the Prentatal Program to Nyack Hospital for a savings of $700,000. 

Check back frequently as Patch updates this story with more information, photos and video.

so at 9 the 99 start to be heard!!!!!!!!
Gadfly May 18, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Many of the comments lead me to believe some of you either hate government or don't understand anything about its operations. The truth is you or your neighbor voted in the very people you now blame for ALL of your ills. The workers negotiated CONTRACTS for their salary and benefits with those government officials. By the way, those workers PAY TAXES also so laying them off also HURTS the local economy. The truth is WE are spoiled kids because we want EVERYTHING for little or no cost. Clean air and water, safe neighborhoods and roads, good schools, are just some of the important things government is charged with providing to the spoiled kids. Let's not forget about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Veteran Affairs, etc. I can go on and on about the many programs some of YOU little piggies use and want but don't want to be reminded of the costs that others may not be using BUT have to pay for. For example, most people OUTLIVE their contributions to Soc. Security by MANY years, requiring the benefits to be picked up by CURRENT workers and taxpayers - should the younger generation call for the cessation of all payments of SS benefits when that happens? It seems that there is too much avarice, jealousy, and (dare I say it) cowardice hidden in some of the above comments.
Gadfly May 18, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Let's screw the government worker BECAUSE I have to pay for something they have (and I want myself) but I never had the courage, smarts or willingness to do myself. Let's cut non-essential services as long as they are not services I use. These mantras are the basis for the race to the bottom. Instead of demanding to cut each others throats, we should look at HOW we got into this mess. The stock market COLLAPSED and WE are still paying for it. It wasn't the cops, teachers, or soldiers who did it.
Cal Mendelsohn May 18, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Wow, Gadfly, blaming the victims really makes sense! We elected our politicians NOT to negotiate untenable financial terms and conditions either with the unions and workers or with private contractors and vendors who sell things to government. We also didn't elect them to mis-represent sources of revenue and overestimate tax revenue coming from sources that were projected to generate ridiculous levels of new funds to help uphold existing programs. We are ALL taxpayers to local government, even municipal workers true enough, but so what? That does't relieve the need for the government officials we elected to be responsible to everyone's interests as muc as possible and to be honest when those needs CAN"T be met. That's the definition of leadership. The nature of local government has been and always will be to fill all those dispareate needs you mention ,. whether or not we use all the services, which of course we don't. And the eed for shared sacrifice goes to everyone,t he workers, the public, andthe politicians who are overpaid clearly in this case.
Pat May 18, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Gadfly. From another thread but applies here also; So we should pay more money for the sole reason of keeping government employees working? What about trimming the fat, doing more with less, eliminating redundancy, giving back some of the enormous benefits still given to public sector employees that are not available in the private sector jand sharing the sacrifice that others endure? Why should government employees be immune from the sacrifices that everyone else is enduring. Please try to answer without calling everyone pigs and cowards. Thanks.
Gadfly May 18, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Cal - your initial premise is wrong. You are not a victim as long as you are represented at the bargaining table. Just because your representative was lousy doesn't make you a victim. Also, your definition of leadership seems to hint that LEADERS can set aside contracts. If that's the case, let government workers go on strike. You can then hire your phantom minimum-wage worker to do these EASY JOBS. You were represented and you are unhappy, I understand that, but blame the right people. Start with the mirror!
Cal Mendelsohn May 18, 2012 at 04:13 PM
No, Gadfly, what I wrote doesn't hint that LEADERS can set aside contracts, it says point blank that they should be honest about what they promise and deliver in terms of negotiations and results and on the cost of programs they negotiate.. Nor am I advocating strikes by governement workers (it's not their fault that our politicians are lousy negotiators either) minimum wage workers, or the usual political fall-backs that you might be accustomed to hearing from those who just happen to disagree with you on these important issues. You seem to have extreme difficulty with the notion of this kind of accountability for a poitiician's actions.. This is not a unique or unusual idea in any way.Looking in the mirror might be good advise for you too,. Also,failing to get that accoutnability violates the public's trust--whether you call that being a victim or not is up to you, but I do.
Tony T May 18, 2012 at 05:45 PM
You watch too many movies....a call will do nothing.
Rob Green May 18, 2012 at 05:46 PM
We have soldiers on the county payroll? That's news to me. (shaking my head). The fact is the piggies are the county and town employees (you must be one of them) who were in bed with the politicians and got exorbitant pay and benefits that we can no longer afford to pay. Do the right thing and contribute towards your benefits and therre will be no need for layoffs. Do we (Clarkstown residents) really need to pay our police officers $110K a year? How many fine NYC cops would be glad to work here for 2/3 of that? When you factor in all the parkland, this county is smaller then NYC and has many overlapping departments that can be combined into one (police, highway, ect). There is no reason for all of this waste. So stop being piggies, share the pain and lets fix this. This has nothing to do with the stock market collapse or soldiers (sheesh).
Rob Green May 18, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Gadfly really does sound like he/she works for the county. I wonder how he/she finds all the time to post comments while working and on county time.
Gadfly May 18, 2012 at 06:07 PM
I have no difficulty in understanding your point about accountability. I just want to understand WHERE you were when the politicians were negotiating contracts. I did not HEAR the outrage then. In fact many people looked down their noses at government work because they were being lied to about the great salaries and 401k's they could have in the private sector. Well the lie has been exposed and all I hear are the cry-babies complaining how they are screwed and now they want to screw others. Cal, you seem like a reasonable person but the other posts seem to be written by the greedy, jealous cowards I referred to before. So excuse me if I'm not polite to them. I now have to call politicians about paying my SS tax for a program that might not exist when I get old.
Gadfly May 18, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Rob - you're an ASS!
Judy Martin May 18, 2012 at 07:33 PM
I have not visited every department of county government. But the departments I HAVE visited seem to have too little work and too many people to do it. For that, I blame not the workers, but whoever ordered the additional jobs without exercising fiscal accountability. Those are the folks we cannot afford to keep.
Gadfly May 18, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Wrong again Robbie! Keep guessing and one day you might actually be right!
Gadfly May 18, 2012 at 09:05 PM
What departments would those be? Did you call Vanderhoef's office and complain? I BET you didn't. I've been to exactly one office in my twenty years in this county. I got the service I wanted but it took a long time and I was frustrated by some incompetence on the part of one employee, but I wasn't ready to call for their heads. I think it would be a lot worse for me if there was no department to go to.
Tony T May 18, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Are you people really that out of it....the jobs are made for us....all the Clarkstown and County jobs are for political hacks, friends realatives of higher up's in the system etc, etc it is all a sham....and now it has caught up it with us not them because we will continue to pay and pay and they will continue to abuse the systme and us.
Brian Goudie May 18, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Amen, Tony. It's a scam. We have been led to believe that we need more and more services and what we get is more and more debt and taxes. Local government has metastasized and is choking life out of each and everyone of us. Scott Vanderhoef is a major part of the problem. No BBs.
Rob Green May 19, 2012 at 03:24 AM
You think soldiers are employed by Rockland County and I'm an ass? lol
Think4urself May 20, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Scott Vanderhoef is the original Vampire Squid-Sucking and Squeezing the life out of every taxpayer in Rockland.
Mike May 20, 2012 at 01:23 PM
To parapharse former POTUS Ford, Our new national nightmare is now just beginning. This state along with almost every other other one and of course the Fed Gov't simply put is broke-there is no money. And there will not be money for a long while. We will see more and more situations like what is now happening in RC. Services will be cut, workers will lose jobs, and taxes will go up. Who knows where it will all lead to? Perhaps with honest, smart, and dedicated leaders who are willing to compromise for the good of the nation, we can come out somewhat intact years down the road. But with the current crop of bumbling, self-centered and unwise NON leaders in charge of our county, state and federal elected offices, I fear the worse.
Brian Goudie May 20, 2012 at 01:34 PM
We also have to be accept fewer services from this clown-government. When we keep asking for services it gives these local politcians an excuse to hire more civil servants. We need to elect people to shrink government, not simply slow its growth.
Gary May 22, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Enough already LAY OFFS are the ONLY way to stop this insanity! So grow a pair and let the process begin just as it does in private industry. Too bad unions and other factions you must take the bullet like the rest of society that has lost jobs due to budget cuts etc! But they always stomp their feet like little babies and cause so much hokus that they force everyone to leave them alone. UNIONS ARE THE PROBLEM IN THE US! Like I said-grow a pair Vanderhoff!
Brian Goudie May 22, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Well said! But the chances of Vanderhoef growing a pair are nil. He cannot see the forest for the trees. I am sorry to say that the whole system looks like it will have to fail before people realize that we cannot tax and spend our way to a good life. As for the unions who thought they could hold a gun to the heads of politcians and the public, their days are numbered. They are no longer needed or wanted and they better get used to living like the rest of us.
Jody May 24, 2012 at 03:48 PM
No one is speaking about the Summit Park mistake and the irresponsible manner that it is being addressed. It is not Smart for a county the size of Rockland to maintain a facility requiring the staffing it needs. No one will want to buy a losing situation . Making it a public benefit corporation only off loads it from the budget. It doesn't reduce the taxpayer liability. See what happened when Nassau tried that. Watch the upcoming liability for Ramapo for Provident Ballpark fiasco, already in debt and growing. You want to get state permission for something . Ask permission to close it if you get no private takers, instead of permission for more taxes and a Public benefit Corporation .
Jody May 24, 2012 at 05:25 PM
The big $$ in taxes. If you want to make Rockland county more affordable , combine all school districts . The administrative costs alone of getting rid of multiple $250,000 plus being able to have magnet school for those wanting AP courses, or emphasis in biological sciences or an inclination for engineering, language. The things we could do for educating children at less cost. To do that, Rockland would need to be a city. We could get rid of the clowns elected to county government . You know, those people working a part time job with a full time salary and benefits package.
Gadfly May 29, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Hey Brian. Why don't you grow a pair? You say unions are no longer needed or wanted BUT you concede they have POWER and now they have to learn to live like you (or people like you. That's the lament of the weak - how about growing a pair and admit that you want to have power to negotiate your wages and benefits with the backing of your fellow workers or are you a corporate robber-baron that steals from shareholders in the dark of night and then claims its for the benefit of the company.
jay May 30, 2012 at 01:03 AM
common sense is not common. those who have long sat at the top of rockland county government have over stayed their welcome, their usefullness and they have lost their way. expecting to be spoon fed information as well as the decisions, apparently unable to think for themselves. while hardworking taxpaying residents, some of whom are county employees are expected to pick up the bill for the disaster that is now a Moodys downgrade to junk bond status; with nothing else left to do, the fat cats who sit in top heavy six figure salary earning positions and the so called leaders want to blame and hurt the old, the sick, and mentally ill vulnerable people who have the misfortune of living in the second highest taxed county in the country, is it any wonder they are being shot in the street, go off bridges, and off the fourth floor of the palisades mall, while commissioners, deputy commissioners, assistants to deputy commmissioners and other so called administrators of rockland county remain in charge and in control of an out of control budget. their plan is to threaten a hundred dedicated lineworkers and county residents with job loss and layoffs, the very people whose job it is to care for the old, sick and mentally ill, while the so called people responsible for the budget crisis remain in power and in charge receiving rich rewards, never once looking in the mirror but try to blame other, this behavior is a clear a case of mismanagement and incompetence at its highest level.
A.Grim October 11, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Clarkstown is broke simply by wasting OUR money. They are in financial crisis but, can go ahead with putting colored decorative concrete, brick, fancy lighting and flowers all along main St.that get watered everyday by 2 guys in a car along with Belgium block curbs and other wasted moniest. NOW THEY WANT TO LAY OFF PEOPLE AND CUT COSTS! They should have put this project on hold off until the town and the economy is in better shape. WHAT A WASTE OF TAXPAYER MONEY DURING THIS TERRIBLE ECONOMY!!!!
Pat Godfrey October 11, 2012 at 04:59 PM
I spoke with Vanderhoef a few times thru this past year. His budget last year according to him was 717 million dollars. Is that crazy? In the last couple of years when we did not have the funds to support such a monstrosity we asked him to make cuts. The best he could do was keep it at present levels. Now we know that is a joke because there is plenty of places he can make cuts in that big a budget. He refused to for a host of reasons. Favors he owes, not having the courage to take on the unions in our county, his belief that government should not take any cuts while the taxpayer needs to sacrifice, who knows what other reasons. I told him that these raises are a big burden to families in the county who are stretching to make ends meet. To people out of work, who take on part time jobs just to have some income, to the elderly on fixed incomes. Do you know what he said? Let them get on welfare, in his mind that was the way to handle it. God forbid he should cut taxes, reduce the size of government, have the unions do some kind of givebacks. We should all get on welfare, I guess that's the answer.
Brian Goudie October 11, 2012 at 06:02 PM
I thought this thread was dead but I see there are still some congenitally angry lefties out there beating their breasts.

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