Good morning. Here’s a glance at today’s opinion offerings:
Rockland budget: Editorial
We comment on the Rockland County Legislature’s Wednesday adoption of a 2012 budget that, among other things, hikes taxes 30 percent. We write:
The Rockland County Legislature has approved a $701.8 million 2012 budget that is almost a mirror opposite of County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef’s spending plan. Both, however, share a common trait: they have key flaws that make it doubtful that deficit-challenged Rockland will soon be able to live within its means.
Where Vanderhoef’s budget plan slashes programs and cuts jobs, the county Legislature’s budget restores much of the funding for both. Incredibly, property taxpayers would see similar increases — for this year, at least — under both plans.
The Legislature hikes taxes 30 percent, but Vanderhoef’s plan included a “one-time surcharge” on property owners that averaged $160, and increased the tax levy to match the state’s 2 percent tax cap. Since the surcharge is roughly equivalent to a 28 percent tax hike, increases in both budgets are comparable. The difference is, the Legislature’s version ups the property tax base upon which next year’s budget will be calculated. The Legislature’s approach — doing away with the surcharge altogether — is not a great solution, but it is a more honest approach to budgeting. It does not, however, solve Rockland’s fiscal problems.
Now, the budget goes back to Vanderhoef, who can sign the Legislature’s version, veto some or all of it, or take no action. Let’s hope that the county executive and legislators take the opportunity to borrow from both budgets. As matters stand, each individual budget misses the mark.
Businesses and the holidays: Community View
Alan G. Badey, managing partner in acounting firm Citrin Cooperman’s White Plains office, offers a Community View in which he encourages businesses to give back to their communities during the holiday season.
Phil Reisman comments on outgoing Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone’s appointment of his chief of staff, Lisa Mrijaj, as head of the city’s Parking Bureau.
Here’s what our colleagues are saying:
State tax deal needs to be aired: Editorial, Poughkeepsie Journal
A new tax plan crafter the old way — in secret: Editorial, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
More cutting needed: Editorial, The Buffalo News