The State of the County
The state of Rockland is strong and becoming more robust; with great progress being made over the five years I have been in office, despite significant challenges. I am required by the Rockland County Charter to update the Legislature once every year on the State of the County. This year, for the first time ever I gave this year’s address outside of the chambers of the County Legislature.
This was not in any way a slight against my partners in government but rather an effort to make government more open and accessible to the people of Rockland. The event was held on Level One of the Palisades Center near Macy’s.
Coming to the Palisades Center was not done by accident. Critical to the success of this county is that we continue to focus on economic development and this shopping and entertainment center is one of the keys to that success.
The Palisades Center generated $21.4 million in property taxes during 2018 and $23.5 million in sales tax revenue. They also collaborated with 75 not-for-profits to hold over 560 events. Everything from tabling for fundraising and awareness campaigns to trainings in the community rooms and large events like the State of the County Address.
The Palisades Center is proposing an internal enhancement, the use of space that already exists and adding parking to remain competitive. The improvements would bring more money in property taxes to Clarkstown and more sales tax revenue to the County.
The benefits to building out the existing space on the 3rd and 4th floors are significant. 700 construction jobs, 500 new permanent retail, entertainment and food service jobs, more ways to attract visitors to Rockland and an estimated $5 million in taxes generated for Clarkstown and the County.
I encourage Clarkstown and the Palisades Center to find common ground on this possible internal expansion because the benefits of doing this far outweigh any perceived issues.
Critical to this is a proactive approach, not a drawn-out legal battle. We have seen this play out once before with Mirant and don’t want a repeat of the $275 million settlement that is still crippling North Rockland.
During my first term, we managed to bring back $5 billion in ratables and during 2018 that growth has continued. Another $2.5 billion in the last year alone. A remarkable achievement that was brought about through the hard work of many people.
I want to mention Lucy Redzeposki my Director of Economic Growth and Tourism, Jeremy Schulman, Director of the Rockland Economic Development Corporation, Al Samuels, President of the RBA and Steve Porath, Rockland County Industrial Development Agency, just a few of many who have and continue to work very closely to bring new businesses into the county and help current businesses expand.
A number of businesses are expanding or in the process of opening across Rockland including; RK Pharma in Pearl River, Caribbean Food Delights in Tappan, the GARNER Historic District in West Haverstraw, Java Love Coffee in Suffern, the NYC Football Club in Orangeburg and the Valley Rock Inn in Sloatsburg.
This volume and variety of rightsized development across Rockland is exactly what will place us on the map and bring great wealth to our County, wealth that will ensure stability in our tax base for years to come. A cautionary note to our citizens however as this strategy works only if politicians do something often difficult for too many; not to spend that added revenue. We here in County government have not and will not travel that path.