Rockland County Exec. Looks to Cut Costs Over Delayed Building Sale
John Jordan | June 21, 2016
NEW CITY—Rockland County Executive Ed Day announced on June 20th a series of emergency financial measures, including a hiring freeze, that will be put in place to address a potential $4-million budget shortfall caused by the County Legislature’s failure to move forward with the sale of the Sain Building here.
“We are facing a $4-million hole in our budget, not because of poor planning or economic circumstances beyond our control,” Day said as he stood outside the county-owned Sain Building on New Hempstead Road at a press conference. “We are facing a $4-million deficit because of senseless political posturing.”
The deficit equals an approximate 4% county property tax increase. “We will make some very painful cuts in programs and services in an attempt to recoup as much of that $4-million shortfall as possible,” Day said. “This will be a deficit—and tax increase—created solely by the Legislature.”
To counter the potential shortfall, Day ordered the following steps effective immediately:
- a hiring freeze – including all temps and relief positions.
- curtailed overtime – payments will require prior authorization from the county executive
- review of all scheduled highway work, with delays or stoppages as appropriate
- purchasing orders will be canceled or delayed.
- all mass mailings are suspended
Other measures that could be implemented by July 1:
Departments will return 20% of county vehicles to the fleet garage, with the exception of fully marked law enforcement vehicles.
- Hours could be cut at all county parks.
- Review of all consulting contracts, with some stopped as needed, including, among other actions, cancellation of this year’s police academy class.
- Contract agencies that have migrated to oversight by county departments under the administration’s new rules will be unaffected. However, Day said that the county would be forced to stop payment to other community-based organizations that receive payments via the legislature without similar, appropriate oversight.
Day pointed out that he proposed as part of the budget in October his intention to sell the Sain Building to offset the one-tome costs associated with the closure of the Summit Park nursing home to ensure a balanced budget.
The Legislature approved a budget that called for $4 million from the sale of the Sain building. By vote, each legislator affirmed the sale.
However since then, the legislature has refused to move on the sale even though a well-financed, nationally known company responded to a request for proposals and advertisements and offered to pay $4.51 million – $510,000 above the appraised value for the six-story office building, Day said. According to published reports, Massachusetts-based National Development Acquisition LLC would acquire the property and tear down the six-story Sain Building and replace it with a senior assisted living facility.
“Now the Legislature, for no lucid reason, is refusing to bring the sale to a vote,” Day said. “We cannot even make our case because the chairman refuses to simply place the matter on an agenda.”
Aiden Wolfe, chairman of the Rockland County Legislature told the Journal News that he did not support the building’s sale to National Development until other options were studied, including selling the county-owned Building A in Ramapo. He said a request for proposals issued early this year to help determine Building A’s worth had been canceled.
Wolfe also said the county should look into knocking down the Sain Building and building a new county office building at the site.
Photo Caption: Rockland County Executive Ed Day