Rockland County Sheriff Opposes 2015 Budget Cuts

At a demonstration held in front of the Rockland County Office Building in New City, officers from the Sheriff’s Department including Sheriff Lou Falco, and members of the Rockland PBA expressed their opposition to County Executive Ed Day’s proposed budget that would cut 37 patrol officers. The proposal calls for 111 county positions to be cut, saving 6.8 million dollars, while only raising property taxes by 1.67 percent for the average homeowner. Falco stated at the conference, held on Friday afternoon, that cutting patrol officers would risk public safety, especially at a time when the county has seen an increase in drug overdoses and crimes. According to Falco the cuts would be to specialized patrol units, such as mounted, marine, and street patrols. Speakers and officials asked attendees on Friday to write to the County Executive and Legislators opposing to the position cuts.

2015 County Budget Proposal Released

County Executive Ed Day released the proposed budget for 2015 on Thursday, presenting major cuts in jobs and funding. The $772 million budget proposal will remove 111 jobs from county payroll, by cutting all 37 positions of the Sheriff’s Department Mounted and Street Patrol, as well as positions within other departments and the outsourcing of 33 jobs currently covered by the county. This will save the county $6.8 million. Day’s budget also proposes to cut funding for various contract agencies and non-profits, which will result in about $3.3 million in savings. Day’s plan is to continue paying off the county’s deficit, using an increase in property taxes of $1.67 per month for the average homeowner, to lower it by $10 million next year. The county has seen double digit tax increases of 10,18, and 30 percent in the last three years and can expect just a two percent increase for 2015. According to Day the budget is not political stating “We are making the tough decisions to thoughtfully reduce the size of this organization while maintaining essential services.” He will be holding public forums to further discuss the budget on October 22 at 7:00 PM at Fieldstone Middle School and November 20 at 7:00 PM at the Suffern Free Library.

Lacey Spears Appears in Court

The Chestnut Ridge woman who is accused of killing her five-year old son by poisoning him with salt was seen in court in White Plains on Wednesday. According to Judge Robert Neary’s ruling the case is ready to move forward to trial after ordering that the evidence against Lacey Spears was obtained legally and can be used in the case. Spears became an interest to police in January, when health care workers at Westchester Medical Center reported that five-year old Garnett Spears died because of high levels of sodium in his system. According to investigators part of their evidence is a feeding bag that Lacey used to help the often sick Garnett receive nutrients through a tube. The bag was brought forward by a neighbor who stated the young mom asked her to dispose of it, and investigators found high levels of sodium inside, leading them to believe that Spears was purposely poisoning her son and may have suffered from Munchausen By Proxy causing those who suffer from it to harm their child for attention. Judge Neary ruled that the trial will begin on October 23.

State Officials Plan Tappan Zee Bridge Tolls

Senator David Carlucci announced a plan at a press conference in Tarrytown on Tuesday that would give residents of Rockland and Westchester Counties a discount for crossing the new Tappan Zee Bridge, stating, “If we can’t afford to cross the bridge it will be devastating to our economy.” In the past year the Senator has made clear his plans for new laws that will fight toll evaders as well. New York state loses about $30 million a year to people who do not pay for passing through tolls. According to Carlucci, he is working with lawmakers in Albany to create a plan, in which residents would receive a $250 tax credit for those who file as a single tax payer and $500 for those who file jointly. The plan will also allow residents of both counties to receive a discount on the toll, which according to speculation, could be as high as $15.

Partial Deconstruction of Tappan Zee Bridge Begins

According to spokeswoman for Tappan Zee Constructors, Carla Julian, the company has started the process of removing part of the current bridge. Julian stated that crews have begun removing 500 feet of the Westchester side of the bridge to make room for the new landing, as well as a colum and footing, and the section can be safely removed without harming the structure. According to officials the column is being removed to make room for the foundation of the new Northbound lanes and the work will be completed by crane at night. The I Lift New York super crane arrived last week and will assist in the dismantling of the current bridge, which project officials stated will mostly take place in 2017.

Weekend Accidents; Bear Killed, Building Hit

Orangetown Police responded to a call on Sunday afternoon for an accident in Blauvelt. According to officers just after 12:00 PM a car crashed into a building at the intersection of Route 303 and Route 340. The driver was treated for minor injuries and remains unidentified and the cause has not been reported, though investigators were at the scene. An unrelated accident was also reported in Ramapo over the weekend. On Friday evening police arrived at the scene of an accident in Wesley Hills to find a young black bear had been hit and killed by a car. Police stated the 200 pound bear was crossing Route 202 when it was hit and survived the crash, but died before police responded. Both the driver and passenger in the car were uninjured and the car sustained minor damage.

Tappan Zee Constructors Fined for Violations

According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, Tappan Zee Constructors, the company building the $3.9 billion new bridge across the Hudson, has been fined for permit violations. According to state reports the constructors began working on building large portions of the bridge at a site north of the project, where they are leasing land and will later ferry the pieces South to the actual construction site. Officials for the group Riverkeeper stated in August they observed the company improperly dredging areas of the Hudson near the Albany site and alerted the DEC of possible violations. Director or Riverkeeper’s Hudson River Program Phillip Musegaas stated that dredging should be continuous movements between the river and barge where materials are dumped, so water and sediment doesn’t drain from the river, but dredging cranes allegedly paused in the process, harming the environment. The company was fined $10,000 for violations and must pay $55,000 to a project for the environment. TZC officials stated that work will continue on schedule, despite the fines.

No Legislature Vote to Override CE Day’s Bus Company Veto

The County Legislature appears to have agreed not to override County Executive Ed Day’s veto of the proposal to pay Brega Transport Corp. $300,000 to have the bus fleet washed daily. Members of the Legislature were set to vote Tuesday on whether or not to override Day’s decision, but before the meeting the issue was pulled from the agenda by Legislature Chairman Alden Wolfe. Day stated on his Facebook page, “Vetoes do not get pulled as a rule unless the support to override is not there.” and went on to say that he thanks the unknown members who reviews the information provided with his veto. The $70 million contract with Brega requires that the buses be washed a minimum of once a week, and the County Executive stated in his argument that this means the operator would cover the costs of extra washing and maintenance, not tax payers. According to Day’s statements on the social media site, the proposal has been defeated, unless the Legislature holds a special meeting within the next week, which is unlikely.

Ramapo Ward Referendum Votes Thrown Out

On Tuesday State Supreme Court Justice Margaret Garvey made a ruling on the chaotic Ramapo ward vote that was held last week. Garvey ordered that a new vote is to be held stating that Ramapo Town Clerk Christian Sampson created confusion for residents by not clearly notifying polling centers who was eligible to vote as well as creating problems with absentee ballots. In Garvey’s 14-page ruling she stated the state law requires that absentee ballots be counted as long as they are recevied by 5:00 PM on the election day, though the town released information that absentee votes will count if they were postmarked by September 28 and received up to a week after the election. The judge impounded votes after last Tuesday’s election, when activists Michael Parietti and Robert Romanowski filed a petition which brought up the possible improper actions in the polling centers. According to Parietti the town misled voters and went around Garvey’s original orders by not clearly announcing voting regulations. Judge Garvey did not order a new date for the election but stated that the votes will be preserved and the Town Board held a meeting at 8:30 this morning, voting unanimously to appeal the decision to invalidate the results.

Student Threatens Massacre at St. Thomas Aquinas Campus

According to Orangetown Police a foreign exchange student attending school at St. Thomas Aquinas College was arrested at 11:00 on Monday morning after police received reports from college security on Sunday that the 20-year old Spanish student was threatening a massacre on campus. Detective Lt. James Brown stated that Inigo Aldecoa-Tapia allegedly made the threats via a social media site and the Rockland Sheriff’s Department Comupter Crimes Task Force and Bomb Squad were brought in to assist in the investigation. Brown stated that Aldecoa-Tapia did not have any weapons in his possession, and the student was charged with a felony count of making a terroristic threat, and misdemeanor count of second-degree aggravated harassment and taken to Rockland County Jail on $10,000 bail. The college opened again at 8:00 AM on Monday, after a three-hour search of the campus by authorities.