20 Aug 2014
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Legislators Debate Capital Projects Despite Absent Reps

They needed to question representatives who weren't at the meeting as they discussed the future funding of capital projects.

Legislators Debate Capital Projects Despite Absent Reps

The Rockland County Legislature Planning & Public Works and Budget & Finance committees held a joint meeting Tuesday night, part of which was dedicated to going over recommendations from various departments in regards to capital projects included in the 2013 proposed budget.

Some projects were recommended for closure or cancelation, others were recommended for additional funding and some are new projects. Members of the legislature were hoping to learn more about the projects before they vote on the county executive’s proposed 2013 budget at their Dec. 4 meeting.

However, one issue that arose Tuesday night was the lack of representatives in attendance from some of those departments with projects listed.

Legislator Michael Grant, chair of Planning & Public Works, called it “totally unacceptable” and said that too often representatives needed to be at legislature meetings don’t show up.

“They don’t ask to be excused, they don’t offer a replacement, don’t feel compelled in any way, shape or form to be here and represent the administration,” Grant said.

Legislator Ilan Schoenberger, chair of Budget & Finance, said that not only is it too close to the vote to push the meeting back, but since it was a joint meeting Tuesday night, they’d have to reconvene two different committees if they wanted to push the vote back. He added he would like written letters from representatives from those departments that didn’t have anyone at the meeting detailing why their projects were on the list, where the money for them comes from and why it’s being closed, if the project is on that list.

Schoenberger proposed a motion to not delete any projects listed that the legislature did not receive a satisfactory explanation on from administration representatives. It passed in both committees.

There were three projects listed for cancellation. One was to dredge, clear and deepen Lake Suzanne, which was listed for cancelation because it’s not a county stream. The Memorial Pond Drainage project was listed as canceled because there weren’t plans to move forward.

The third project listed for cancelation was Lake Lucille in New City. Legislator Ed Day spoke up in favor of keeping that project open, citing the fact that members of the Lake Lucille community paid for the lake to be fully dredged themselves before running into some issues.

“In a few years, the silting returned,” Day said. “There is no way that happened on its own. Certainly there are external forces there. I think what we can point to most recently was an issue that occurred across the Clarkstown border in Ramapo that affected Lake Lucille.”

Schoenberger said the community faced a similar situation a while back and when they looked into it, it was determined they couldn’t get county money because it’s private property. While Schoenberger said he wasn’t opposed to leaving the project open, he was a bit cautious of doing so.

“I wonder if we’re doing a bit of disservice to those people because we know full well that it’s marked private property that we will not be able to appropriate county money to solve their private property problem,” he said.

Day said he was aware of the issue, and the people in the community were as well. He added he wanted to see the project left open not only for the chance of money, but because the legislature promised members of that community they would look into what they’re up against in terms of nearby streams affecting the lake. Day said he hasn’t seen what was promised to the community.

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