Rockland County Budget Veto Override Vote Fails

Real Estate In-Depth | December 2016

Massachusetts-based National Development Acquisition LLC has twice offered to acquire the property for $4.5 million and tear down the six-story Sain Building and replace it with a senior assisted living facility.

NEW CITY—Earlier this week the Rockland County Legislature failed to secure the necessary two-thirds majority to override Rockland County Executive Ed Day’s vetoes in Rockland County’s 2017 budget.

The Legislature voted 11-5 to override the vetoes, but fell short of the mandated 12 votes necessary to achieve the two-thirds majority. According to the Journal News, the $704.5-million fiscal plan includes a 1.2% hike in county taxes; nine layoffs; and does not include any revenues from the possible sale of the county-owned Sain Building in New City. The published report also states the budget does not earmark any funding for deficit reduction and provides no funding for more than 30 non-profits, which the Legislature had proposed to fund. The Legislature’s amended budget called for a tax decrease—the first since 2007.

With the failure of the veto overrides, the 2017 budget reverts back to mainly County Executive Day’s original budget proposal. The Legislature had passed numerous budget amendments, but Day vetoed all but four of those amendments. Those four amendments involve restoring one position each in the departments of Highway, Consumer Protection, Sheriff and the District Attorney.

Rockland County Executive Ed Day
Rockland County Executive Ed Day

“While I respect the Legislature’s input, I cannot in good conscience allow amendments from the Democratic majority, which are funded by phantom revenue, to go forward,” Day said in his veto message. “We have worked too hard to climb out of a fiscal hole to travel down the same road that led this county to a staggering $138-million deficit and near insolvency.”

One of a number of areas of contention between the executive and legislative branches was the proposed sale of the county-owned Sain Building in New City. Day vetoed an amendment that would have allowed the $4.5 million in expected revenue to be counted in the 2017 budget. This cautious approach is necessary because some in the Legislative majority have been blocking the sale of the Sain Building for 14 months, Day stated.

Once the building is sold, the County Executive stated that he would work with the Legislature to see if that revenue can be used to fund some non-profit agencies that are not now being funded. The County Executive will also explore the potential of using some revenue from the sale of the Sain Building for funding contract settlements, primarily if back pay is awarded.

Revenue from the sale will go primarily toward deficit reduction, he added. Massachusetts-based National Development Acquisition LLC has twice offered to acquire the property for $4.5 million and tear down the six-story Sain Building and replace it with a senior assisted living facility. However, the transaction has been a political football between the County Executive and the Legislature and the transaction has not closed and at press time appears in limbo.

Democratic legislators released statements critical of the Day budget after the veto overrides failed. “In short, due to the refusal of six members of the Legislative Minority to support an override of the County Executive’s vetoes, we now have a budget that falls short on numerous fronts and unnecessarily cuts into the very heart of what helps make our county such a wonderful place to live,” Legislature Chairman Alden H. Wolfe said.

Legislator Michael Grant, chairman of the Budget & Finance Committee, added the failure of the veto overrides means that the budget now reverts almost entirely to the County Executive’s original version.

“The version we are left with is plagued with issues and leaves us vulnerable to criticism from the state Comptroller’s Office,” Grant said.

The 2017 budget takes effect on Jan. 1, 2017.