County Executive Ed Day said in a statement that Rockland County has filed its second quarter report to the state Comptroller, and has reduced spending $35.3M from the previous year – this is the largest year over year decrease in Rockland history. Day said that Rockland’s budget deficit dropped from $138M to $19M since he took office two years ago. The county has had three credit rating upgrades in two years of consecutive budget surpluses. However, amid this good financial news the report also shows Rockland is running a $1.2M deficit this year. Rockland Commissioner of Finance Stephen DeGroat said in the report to the Comptroller that, “The main driver of this shortfall is in the revenue category. There is a high possibility of a significant shortfall in the sale of real property of $4M due to the failure of the Legislature to pass the needed authorization to sell the Sain building.” DeGroat informed the Comptroller’s office that the County Executive Day has implemented austerity measures to protect the county’s treasury and assure credit rating agencies that Rockland remains in control of its finances.
The Rockland County Legislature has written a resolution calling on the Clarkstown Town Board to formally dismiss all charges leveled against Chief Sullivan when it meets Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. at 11 Hempstead Road in New City. The resolution states that the charges brought against Sullivan “are highly questionable and political in nature”. Sullivan has publicly stated that he is innocent of all charges. Last week over a thousand residents and law enforcement officers gathered to declare their public support of the 33-year veteran of the force and calling for his reinstatement. The resolution, once approved, will be sent to Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann and the Clarkstown Board and among other officials and law enforcement agencies.
For commuters all seven lanes were officially open this morning on the Tappan Zee Bridge. Then motorists found there were long delays as two tractor-trailers stalled on the bridge and there was debris from another truck. While those obstacles have been removed — drivers are still slowing to see some remnants of the red crane that collapsed over all lanes and closed the bridge last week.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day has announced a Stage 2 water emergency for the county. Stage 2 is a preventative measure. The average rainfall in March and June has had a 36-percent drop. According to Day, “there is not enough water in the Ramapo River right now.” Stage 2 implements water-use cutbacks for homes and businesses including alternate day scheduling for watering of lawns, restaurants will serve water only upon request, and cars may only be commercially washed among other restrictions. These restrictions apply to those who use well water as well. The county Health Department will enforce the restrictions and fines have the ability to reach $2,000 per day. For a full listing of restrictions and Suez water conservation ideas visit RocklandGov.com
If you are heading over the Tappan Zee Bridge this morning the conditions will be similar to yesterday. Three lanes in each direction will continue to be open with one outer southbound heading towards Westchester will remain closed as workers repair damage caused by a construction crane accident Tuesday afternoon. The single lane closure could last a few more days. In the meantime, commuters should expect delays in the morning and evening commute.
A crane has collapsed on the Tappan Zee bridge. The crane is crossing all lanes, in both directions, and has closed the bridge entirely. Avoid Route 287 near the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert have released an Air Quality Health Alert for the Metropolitan New York City region, including Rockland County. Alerts are issued when outdoor pollution exceeds the national air quality standards and may be unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as, children, elderly, people with asthma or lung diseases, and pre-existing heart disease or high blood pressure. It is recommended you limit strenuous outdoor activity during afternoon and early evening when ozone levels highest.
The New York Blood Center, that supplies blood and platelets to numerous area hospitals, has announced a blood shortage and is declaring a blood emergency. Regional Director Andrea Cefarelli told Mid-Hudson news that the Center is “down to a two-day supply of O negative, B negative and A negative.” Typically blood donations decline during this time as people go on vacation and take time off from work and school. Cefarelli said there are two ways you can help, “Number one, find a convenient place to, please, donate blood, or number two, if someone is unable to give blood, they might consider hosting a blood drive, we need additional blood drives in July and August to help replenish the blood supply.” If you would like to donate blood or organize a blood drive call, 1-800-933-2566.
Eight months ago, County Executive Ed Day, submitted the 2016 county budget to the Legislature. The budget included a plan to sell the Sain Building in New City for its appraised value: $4M. The Legislature expressed doubt anyone would purchase the building near that price. In December the Legislature approved the budget with the projected $4M income from the sale of the Sain Building built in, and stamping their approval. A request for proposals for the building was put out and it was advertised for sale. A nationally known real estate company responded and offered $4.51M — $510,000 above the appraised value. Once the offer was on the table the Legislature requested “more information” thus, delaying the sale. Day informed the Legislature that the Sain Building is falling apart and would cost taxpayers at least $10M to bring up to code. He also noted that county employees who have suffered extremely unpleasant working environment in the Sain Building are moving into Building A on the Pomona campus. The Legislature is now questioning why they don’t sell Building A instead of the Sain Building. Day says there are multiple reasons for not selling Building A, most notably vital services are already located there and relocating would not be cost effective. There are utility hook ups, communication systems and liability issues that would make the whole deal financially prohibitive. Day says, “In short, it’s not feasible to sell Building A. We have an offer on the table for $4.5M to sell the Sain Building to a company that wants to build senior housing – something that is vitally needed in Rockland.” He added, “It was bad financial decisions that brought this county to the brink of bankruptcy. Not accepting a $4.5M offer for a county building that’s falling apart would be another one of them. All of us owe it to the taxpayer to take advantage of this offer to sell the Sain Building, make our county government more efficient and leave us with a $500,00 surplus rather than $4M worth of red ink.”
Last night, the bill submitted for a $3M grant for East Ramapo Schools in exchange for greater state oversight was approved. Earlier in the day the Senate had approved the bill. One last step remains for Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to sign the legislation. In a statement, Senator David Carlucci said, “Today’s vote will restore vital programming for the East Ramapo school district and require that effective oversight ensures resources are being spend in the best interest of the students.” Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee who spoke about the bill on The Morning Show Wednesday said, “It has oversight by the commissioner, so there’s strength within the context of the legislation.” The deal is a one-year grant intended to be use for programs like full-day kindergarten, smaller classes and create art and music programs. The state education commissioner will now receive the entire school budget from the school board and have the authority to make changes in the spending plan. School board president, Yehuda Weissmandl said in a statement, “This is a very positive outcome indeed. We will now be able to make a series of investments in academic programs and services. Our students will benefit greatly.”