According to officials a house fire in Monsey on Friday night led to the displacement of five children, their mother and father, and grandmother. Firefighters from the Hillcrest, Spring Valley, Monsey, and Thiells Departments responded to the home on Tauber Terrace around 5:00 PM to find flames on the first level of the two story home. Officials stated that the fire started from a lit Menorah on a wooden table and the family attempted to put out the flames before escaping the house all unharmed. The home was completely destroyed and one firefighter was treated for burns on the scene.
According to Rockland County Legislator Aron Wieder, a threatening photo was sent to him at his county office. Wieder stated to the Journal News that he opened the letter on Monday night during the Legislature’s session and brought it to Sheriff Louis Falco, who was also there at the time. The photo shows Wieder’s face edited onto a man in an orange outfit kneeling before another manin all black, much like the recent ISIS prisoner beheadings, with the ISIS flag in the background and Wieder’s name and Arabic writing across the bottom. The sheriff stated that the department will be working with the law enforcement and the FBI to find out who sent the letter and why.
On Wednesday evening, a panel at the Gaming Facilities Location Board released the locations where casinos will be built in New York. The Board rejected six proposals for Orange County which included New Windsor, Newburgh, Montgomery, Blooming Grove and two close to Rockland in Woodbury and Tuxedo. According to the Board, the Catskills Hudson Valley Region is too close to New York City and the casinos are meant to improve the economies of areas of upstate New York. The three locations that were approved were Sullivan, Seneca, and Schenectady Counties. Now that the decision has been made, developers will be awarded licenses after environmental studies and background checks are completed.
At the Rockland County Legislature meeting on Monday night members voted 15-2 to override County Executive Ed Day’s decision to veto the adopted 2015 budget vote. Last week the Legislature voted to approve a revised version of Day’s $772 million proposal, amending the Deficit Reduction Act to allow payback of $4 million towards the county debt rather than $10 million. By amending the law the Legislature provided money to save 36 positions within the Sheriff’s Patrol Units and funding for the nonprofit organizations. On Friday Day vetoed parts of the plan, cutting funding for ten nonprofits, as well as the mounted patrol unit and the position of captain in the Sheriff’s Office. Joseph Meyers and Chris Carey both voted no on the override with the other 15 members voting yes. Day stated on Monday night, “My original proposal made the hard decisions on spending while following the law. But, the Democratic-controlled Legislature voted to amend it’s own Deficit Financing Act to continue the status quo and avoid the same hard decisions I faced.” The adopted budget will raise taxes for Rockland residents by $20 a year.
According to a report done by the Empire Center for New York Policy on the budget for 2015 for the Thruway Authority, the tolls for the new Tappan Zee Bridge could reach as high as $15. The toll is currently $5 and the new bridge is being built for $3.9 billion. The completed study shows that the organization is already facing a $305 million deficit with less access to federal funding than expected, which could lead to a much higher toll cost for drivers. Officials with the Thruway Authority and New York State have yet to announce the actual cost and Governor Andrew Cuomo stated that there will most likely be subsidies given by the state to lower costs though it is too early to clearly say how high tolls will be.
According to County Executive Ed Day the County Legislature is planning to vote on the 2015 budget proposal, and have discussed various options that may save county jobs. One proposal is to amend the Deficit Reduction Act so that instead of paying back $10 million a year, the county would repay a lower amount of $4 million. Day’s $772 million budget proposal calls for 111 job cuts, as well as cutting funding for nonprofit organizations, and though he has begun working with the Legislature to save jobs he stated on WRCR anout the decision to lower the reduction law “If we free up $6 million out of the 10 million, on an item that has been focused on in a key piece of our fiscal recovery, all that’s gonna tell the markets is one simple thing, when faced with the tough decisions Rockland County ran, Rockland changed the rules of the game to accommodate an approach that would not force those decisions.” Recently the New York State Comptroller’s Office approved the proposal, calling it good for the county’s bond rating. According to Day the county has the potential to have a rating upgrade in the spring as well, and not paying back a large amount of the deficit could hurt the county’s chances. The other approach was proposed by Legislator Cris Carey, and according to Day, would save 23 positions in the Sheriff’s Department and bring the county layoffs below 100, by lowering the Deficit Reduction Act to $7 million a year. Carey stated that the plan would also give nonprofits 75% of their funding and according to Day would allow county property taxes to remain under the 2% tax cap for the year. There will be a Budget and Finance meeting on Tuesday at 7:00 PM and a vote will be held on Thursday at 7:00 PM, both at the County Office Buildings in New City.
The case against an Orange County man who shot and killed Norris Acosta-Sanchez, who was accused of raping a girl in Ramapo, will go before a new grand jury in Westchester. The indictment on charges of second-degree murder, first and second-degree manslaughter, as well as criminally negligent homicide was dismissed earlier this month, the judge ruling that statements made by David Carlson defending himself in the 2013 shooting were withheld from the original grand jury, and so compromised their opinions. Westchester prosecutors stated that they will be choosing a new grand jury instead.
According to County Executive Ed Day on November 13 the County Finance Department auctioned multiple county owned properties that had failed to pay taxes. Day stated that the auction last week was the first the county has held since 2011 and the sale of the 75 properties brought in $2.5 million owed on the buildings’ taxes, as well as $2.1 million in revenue. In the County Executive’s report he also listed savings of $727,000 managed by the Purchasing Department through a contract with Resolution Energy Group, as well as discussing is budget proposal, which will raise property taxes by two percent, but will cut 111 county-held positions including 37 within the Sheriff’s Office, that has created controversy among supporters of the Department including several town officials, and supporters of Day’s budget.
Rockland officials stated last week that a program implemented to detect fraud in the county has saved more than $1.5 million by screening welfare applicants more thoroughly than in the past. Reports from the Journal News and statements made by County executive Ed Day have released information that the Department of Social Services saved money by not paying day care costs, financial assistance, and foodstamp and medical benefits for families who did not meet requirements. In the all, 111 applicants were denied this year and the County’s Special Investigations Unit has regained nearly $300,000 that the DSS overpaid to members of assistance programs.
According to sources compiled by the Journal News the environmental group River Keeper and Healthy Schools Network released a report on Thursday registering that over 100 tanks of oil being carried by freight trains more than 30 times a week pass by 101 school locations from Rockland County to Albany. The report shows that the schools are often within a mile of the CSX rail line, which carries oil for companies from the Midwest in cars that have been deemed unsafe for transport by federal officials. Officials such as New York Senator Charles Schumer and County Legislator Harriet Cornell, and local parents are calling for new rules to be put in place to protect students from the highly volatile crude oil. Some safety regulations have been put into place in Rockland including a reduction of the speed limit. Parents are asking that the limit be reduced further in school areas and better evacuation plans be put in place for students.