ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- Dueling funding plans by the Rockland County Legislature and County Executive Ed Day leaves 30 nonprofit agencies without funding unless one of the two blinks first and decides to compromise.
The plans, which were announced Wednesday, would partially fund the organizations that were left hanging when the 2017 budget passed without adequate funds earmarked for struggling agencies that help thousands of Rockland residents.
The Legislature voted 10 to 4 to use $675,000 in surplus monies to fund 32 nonprofits. Most of the funding is coming from two contingency accounts in the 2016 budget. The balance comes from unspent funds in the Legislature’s budget.
“These organizations are being funded with real dollars,” Legislature Chairman Alden H. Wolfe said. “Those who support the funding have made a decision to back local organizations that do tremendous good throughout our county."
The funding will make up almost half of the agencies funding that Day vetoed in the budget and the Legislature was unable to muster enough votes to override the veto.
But before any money leaves the county's coffers, the plan could be vetoed once again by Day and the Legislature’s plan would again need 12 votes to override any veto.
Shortly after the Legislature passed its plan, Day unveiled his own three-point plan to fund the agencies with $591,000.
Day outlined a plan that includes him giving up $50,000 to do his first countywide mailing since he took office. That money will instead be put in an account for the non-profits once the Sain Building is sold, he said.
He asked Legislators to put all but $3,400 of their $34,600 budget for mailing in 2017 into an account for the nonprofits – the same amount he will retain for postage.
"Let that co-equal branch of the government pledge the same amount from its postage budget to fund these nonprofits that they say they care about so much," he said.
Day also proposed making the non-profits formal contract agencies with the county. His long-term goal is to avoid the end of year scramble and enter into contracts with the organizations. That will ensure their funding, take them out of the political arena and set goals and expectations in return for the taxpayer money they are receiving.
"I value the work that these organizations do, as much as I value the work done by the nonprofits that will receive $16.3 million in funding in the 2017 budget," he said.
On the other side, Wolfe pointed to a study by the Institute for Non-Profits, that reports collectively, non-profits in Rockland employ about 9,000 people whose work helps prevents everything from incarceration to hospitalization while also nurturing a rich fabric of arts and history.
“For every dollar, they are funded by the county, many non-profits are able to generate up to $3 in additional funding, including through matching grants,” Wolfe said. “These organizations deliver powerful results.”
Legislator Harriet Cornell (D-West Nyack) said virtually all of the non-profit organizations funded by the county were started by everyday residents to meet a specific need in our community.
“These organizations were born of great need and often few dollars, but the people behind them never lost hope and never gave up in trying to create a response to the many needs of our community,” Cornell said.
Now one of the two sides has to give in before any funding is provided.
"Someone has to be the grown-up in the room and say no, we can't spend money we don't have when we are still in a deficit," Day said. "My plan is both better for the taxpayers, the non-profits and the long-term financial health of Rockland County: Sell the Sain Building."