ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- Thirty local non-profits will receive funding for the first six months of the year, but Rockland County Executive Ed Day and legislators will have to come to an agreement on the sale of the Sain Building before the rest of the year is funded.
The partial funding comes after Day refused to sign a funding resolution adopted by the Legislature that uses two contingency accounts that held unspent money budgeted for 2016.
Without Day's signature, some $675,000 in alternative funding identified by the Legislature will automatically be used for the organizations to carry on with their work.
Day accuses "certain" legislators of playing politics to prevent the much-needed funding from being dispersed for the entire year.
“We value these agencies and the good work they do,” Day said. “It is not fair to them that their funding has been held up by the actions of certain legislators.”
At issue? Day wants the Legislature to agree to the sale of the Sain Building for $4.5 million to help fund the non-profits for the rest of the year and into the foreseeable future.
“This county’s checking account is still overdrawn,” he said. “Any so-called extra money should be allocated to pay our debt. But my decision to allow this funding to forward is an attempt on my part to stop allowing certain legislators to use these good agencies as a political football.”
His decision will not affect the vast number of not-for-profits that receive $16.3 million in funding through contracts with the county.
Over the past two weeks, Day and members of his administration held meetings with members of the legislative majority, including Chairman Toney Earl and Jay Hood, chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee.
Day said a deal was reached that called for a comprehensive plan to fund all of the non-profits for the foreseeable future and to work to convert most of them to contracts going forward.
In return, for the commitment from the Day administration to fund these agencies, the Legislature would agree to move forward with the sale of the Sain Building.
After the handshake deal was reached, the administration was informed the agreement was off.
Earl (D-Hillcrest) said he was worried about tying the sale of real estate to the funding of the non-profit organizations.
“The Legislature worked very hard to identify alternative funding,” Earl said. “Whether the Sain building is sold or not, it should not impact the funding support. The agencies shouldn’t be used as pawns - sell the Sain or we cut off all money to the organizations. That just doesn’t work.”
Legislator Ilan Schoenberger (D-Wesley Hills) said the two issues were separate and needed to be addressed in such a way.
“It is immoral and unethical to link these two in any way,” Schoenberger said. “Either these agencies provide services that Rockland residents need and deserve or they don’t. If they don’t, they don’t deserve funding. If they do, they must be funded. I believe they should be funded.:
Day said he doesn't understand the resistance and believes it's politics at play: “We do not understand the reason for the resistance from some members of the Legislature other than pure partisan politics. “Day said. “Everyone in Rockland County will suffer because of their political petulance.”
The building has been put up for sale twice with only one potential buyer expressing interest both times.
“There is obviously some secret agenda among some in the Legislature that we do not understand,” he said adding “The only thing they are going to cause is a fire sale to a buyer with yet-to-be-identified intentions and a loss of millions in taxpayer dollars.”
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