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2011 Rock Co Budget Passes, 12-5

by Cliff Weathers

The Rockland County Legislature voted 12-5 to pass an amended version of County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef’s budget. Two Democrats, Joe Meyers and Connie Coker joined three Republicans, Ed Day, Frank Sparaco, and Doug Jobson voted against the budget.

The amended budget reduces County expenses by 1.2 million and will be sent to Vanderhoef, who can sign it or veto it.

The typical Rockland household can expect to pay about $612 in county property taxes in 2011, an increase of about $12. Vanderhoef had proposed a $24 increase. However, the new budget doesn’t deal with the county’s deficit problems: there will be a $46 million deficit by the end of this year and to $77 million deficit by the end of next year, according to auditors hired by the legislature.

Coker was not shy about her reasons for rejecting the budget. “I just really feel the budget should be sent back to the county executive,” Coker said after the vote. “What really needs to happen is a reorganization of how county government is operated.”

Still unresolved is a controversial proposal to sell Summit Park, the county’s nursing facility to a yet unnamed public benefit corporation. According to Vanderhoef, this would bring in $18 million in revenues to the county, filling a gap in the buget. A public benefit corporation would continue to take in revenue from Medicare, but would not be directly accountable to taxpayers. Legislators indicated that they needed more time and information to make a decision on this plan.

Public benefit corporations have boards of directors appointed by elected officials and are exempt from many state and local regulations, which makes them risky partners for municipal governments. While they operate much like government agencies, they are not directly accountable to taxpayers. PBC’s can issue their own debt and there’s little oversight or transparency in how they operate.

This story first appeared on the Left Of The Hudson blog.

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