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Suffern Mayor Says ‘He’s Ready’ to Be Rockland County Executive

by Dagan Lacorte

Suffern Mayor Dagan Lacorte (D) is running for Rockland County Executive. First elected as mayor in 2009, Lacorte previously was a village trustee in Suffern. He is a small business owner and a managing partner in at L&L Partners Wealth Management in Suffern, NY.

The end of Scott Vanderhoef’s 20 years in office offers Rockland the opportunity to transform its patronage-infested, outdated and mismanaged government. A $114 million deficit and the county’s worst in the state credit rating are an outrageous embarrassment.  We need a bold, independent and credible executive who will stop the business as usual politics and unite the talents of our community to make Rockland proud again.  I am ready.

As Suffern’s mayor, I passed a budget below Governor Cuomo’s tax cap, despite facing a state mandated 30% increase in pension costs since 2010.  Our debt service is lower, our full-time payroll leaner and our services better. Our bipartisan board invested in our infrastructure and our downtown business district.  We’ve expanded programs for seniors, built a new playground at no cost to taxpayers and modernized our sewer plant to reduce utility costs by 15% in two years.  My proposed budget for 2013-14 will be below the tax cap again.

Rocklanders will never doubt where I stand on the critical issues facing our region, our state and our nation.  I am a proud progressive, for choice and marriage equality.  I support President Obama’s DREAM Act, Governor Cuomo’s stop and frisk reform, regulating decriminalized marijuana and raising the minimum wage.

I will speak out for social justice across our county-‘€”most urgently in East Ramapo, where public education is under siege and poor and minority children face devastating budget cuts.  And I will call out ethnically and religiously divisive political rhetoric that targets any group in our county.

Our next executive must lead with an understanding Rockland’s diversity and complexity.  I will.

As the county’s messy budget process concludes, it’s clear we need, bold leadership and real solutions.  The incumbents have raised taxes more than Rocklanders can bear, threatening vital services.  Rockland’s county government is broke and broken.  I will work with legislators of both parties to modernize Rockland’s government so it works for all of us, for a change.  Here’s my plan:

  1. Consolidate Rockland’s sprawling government, reducing its patronage-ridden 60 boards, commissions and departments by 25 percent. The existence of all agencies not required by the County Charter must be evaluated. I will cut the millions wasted on outside contractors, and flatten the bloated management structure. The county should not be paying private landlords rent for services that can be housed in public buildings.No more no contracts without merit selection for politically-favored groups.
  2. The county’s fiscal malpractice goes back a decade as fully detailed in the recent Rockland Business Association White Paper. I strongly endorse the RBA’s recommendations and commend them for a thoughtful and non-partisan analysis.  I dissent from the recommendation to create a new, inevitably political elected comptroller. I’ll repeal the regressive $14 million energy tax. My budget will be below the property tax cap during my first term.
  3. I will fire the county’s auditors and replace every current political appointee with budgetary responsibility. I will hire independent, nonpartisan professionals to identify savings, improve services and sell unneeded assets.
  4. The county hospital must be sold. While the recent budget passed by the legislature excludes the proceeds from any sale from the current budget, the transfer of the hospital to a local development corporation is a one shot insufficient to address the budget’s structural imbalances. I will immediately begin the approval process for the hospital’s sale with the Department of Health and retain an interim operator to reduce its pre-sale losses.
  5. Services are provided best by those closest to the people. I will stop shifting the financial burden for the county’s mismanagement to towns and villages. I will pool resources with other municipalities for legal, engineering and other costly professional services and, over four years, increase sales tax revenue sharing with other local governments. We are all in this together and shifting the burden to make county government appear healthier just makes our towns and villages weaker. I will maintain professional relationships with our town and village officials, independent of party and personality.

Rockland County is a beautiful place to live. Stacy and I are raising our girls here because we treasure the warmth of our neighbors, the dedication of our PTA leaders, the ceaseless service of our vets and the creativity of our sophisticated business community.

We deserve a county executive who works as hard as we do.  A leader with a proven track record of fiscal responsibility and political independence.

I am ready.

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Nyack People & Places, a weekly series that features photos and profiles of citizens and scenes near Nyack, NY, is sponsored by Sun River Health.

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