Rockland County unveils $729 million budget for 2020

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Rockland County officials revealed the details of the county's new $729 million budget for 2020 at Hi Tor Animal Shelter in Pomona Wednesday.

The unusual setting for the news conference was because the new budget includes $5.7 million to build a brand-new shelter.

County Executive Ed Day says the county took out a bond to pay for shelter improvements, which are expected to start next year.

He says a new shelter will actually save taxpayers money because it’s a shared service for the area, meaning individual towns won’t have to build their own shelters and pass a bigger bill onto residents.

Officials say the bottom line on the 2020 budget is that it's $20 million more than this year's budget, but taxpayers will only see an average of a $3 per month bump on their county tax bill.

That's under the state tax cap.

Coming up with a budget was tricky to do, Day says, because the state rolled down $4.5 million in mandates onto the county's shoulders to pay for things such as universal pre-K and justice reform. “If you're going to pass legislation, state-wide legislation, come up with funding streams. Don't come up with these wonderful ideas, and I use that in quotations, and not have funding for them. Don't cut back on taking care of children with special needs, because you know we're going to pick up the cost - we're human here. But it's just not right to hear how wonderful things are in Albany and then we get the bill,” says Day.

All in all, county officials say Rockland still has a big surplus in the bank or close to $32 million. That's up $26 million from last year and up significantly from 2014 when the county faced a $138 million budget deficit.

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