The Road We’ve Traveled

The Road We’ve Traveled

We have come far. In 2014 we faced a $138 million budget deficit that I inherited when first taking office which nearly brought about the fiscal collapse of county government. By the end of 2020, we had completely reversed our fortunes building a $92 million fund balance or surplus in our general fund.

We made the hard choices and faced challenges that no one had dreamed of. In 2018 and 2019, we faced a nearly year-long measles outbreak. In March of 2020, COVID-19 arrived bringing devastating health and economic consequences with it that included a projected $108 million two-year deficit.

But we acted immediately to mitigate the financial impacts by implementing austerity measures, instituting a hiring freeze, applying for FEMA disaster assistance, and reducing our capital borrowing. This was a whole government approach, and in a bi-partisan fashion, Rockland closed ranks to protect our residents, our businesses, and your tax dollars.

Those steps coupled with a rebounding economy helped protect your tax dollars. We took a $40 million hit in revenues but were successful in controlling expenses, underspending by $65 million and adding an additional $25 million to our surplus.

Through it all we have battled on. We asked our dedicated and hardworking employees to make do with less while finding new and innovative ways to get the job done. We focused on conservative budgeting and shepherding responsible economic growth to right Rockland’s fiscal ship. I am incredibly proud of what our team in county government and our partners in the private sector have accomplished under these difficult circumstances.

These efforts are being noticed and rewarded. Standard & Poor’s (S&P) Global Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service both gave Rockland double credit rating upgrades this summer. These increases marked well over a dozen credit rating upgrades after years of downgrades and a near-junk bond credit rating when I took office.

In a real-world example of how these rating increases help, we saved $2.5 million on our 2021 Capital Borrowing cost which includes the construction of our new highway garage and other infrastructure improvement projects. These rating upgrades also allowed us to refinance three of our old bonds this year to save more of your money, to the tune of nearly $4 million saved over the remaining life of these bonds.

Our hard work is paying off. The 2022 Proposed County Budget which I submitted to the Legislature October 1st does not include a property tax increase. That’s right, the County of Rockland Budget calls for NO INCREASE to your property taxes.

There is no sale of any property or one-shot revenue in the proposed budget. There are no layoffs of program cuts in the proposed budget. There are no gimmicks, just the payoff of all our years of effort and budgeting.

We have never forgotten that this is your money. We will not stop working to protect it while investing in a bright and sustainable future.

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