NEW CITY – County Executive Ed Day highlighted the incredible work of Rockland County Government employees and the continued growth of Rockland’s economy last Wednesday evening in the 2023 State of the County Address. The County Executive spoke from the chambers of the Rockland County Legislature to Commissioners, Department Heads, employees, elected officials, and residents of Rockland.
“When I was first elected as your County Executive in 2014, we were the most fiscally stressed County in all of New York with a $138-million deficit,” said County Executive Ed Day. “We’ve literally transformed this County from worst to first, ranking us one of New York’s seven fiscally strongest counties.”
Recent Rockland County accomplishments include:
* Increased funding to non-profits.
* Continuing to waive bus fare for riders (since early in the pandemic).
* Distribute $3 million to agencies providing services to seniors.
* Infrastructure improvements (Demarest Dam Rehabilitation Project & revitalization of our Pomona Health complex).
* Equipping school buses with stop-arm cameras.
* No property tax increase two years in a row.
* Repealed the energy tax, equivalent to an 8.4% County Property Tax cut, saving families $12 million annually.
* Opted into New York State bills to expand property tax deductions for seniors and give volunteer first responders property tax deductions.
“All while keeping our staffing 16% lower than where it stood when I first took office,” said County Executive Day.
Below are some of the major highlights presented by County Executive Day Wednesday evening:
* Administered nearly 18,000 polio vaccinations.
Veterans Service Agency:
* Assisted +60% increase in claims.
Economic Development and Tourism Office:
* Awarded $278,000 in Tourism Grants to 29 organizations.
Department of Mental Health:
* Expanding the Children’s Community Assistance, Response, and Engagement Team (CARE Team).
* Overseeing Intensive Crisis Stabilization Center.
* Distributed $2 million to businesses, restaurants, and food pantries.
* Distributed $7 million to municipalities and non-profits for parks, playgrounds, and gardens.
Rockland Codes Investigations Unit (RCI):
* Responded to +1500 complaints, issued 53,000 violations, and collected $130,000 in fines.
Office of Buildings and Codes (OBC):
* Conducted +800 inspections, issued +7,000 violations, levied $250,000 in fines.
* Investigated 685 complaints, a 50% increase.
* 142 prosecutions and $88,000 returned to homeowners, up 80% from 2021.
The County Executive concluded the speech by discussing one of the most-pressing challenges being seen in Rockland – responsible development.
“This is not an easy problem to solve; in fact, it’ll be one of the toughest. But I’ve never been one to back down from a difficult challenge,” said County Executive Day. “If we can rescue this County from the brink of bankruptcy, we can find a way to make it affordable for all – and when I say all I’m referring to our essential workers, our teachers, our first responders; all of whom are having a hard time affording a home in this County.”
The Rockland County Office of Community Development is partnering with Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress to conduct the County’s first-ever comprehensive community and affordable housing needs assessment. This study of the County’s housing needs and challenges will help be utilized to determine what funding is available and the best path forward to develop affordable workforce housing.
The County of Rockland is also hosting the first-ever Housing Forum on April 21st with major stakeholders including developers, lenders, DSS, HUD, and more to strategize how to overcome Rockland’s housing challenges.
“This is an issue close to my heart because I firmly believe safe and affordable housing is a human right; one that should not be limited to those at the highest income brackets. I call on my partners in government and our County legislators to work with me and my administration to knock down these financial barriers for our families once and for all.”