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politics

Ed Day Steers Rockland County Toward Fiscal Health

A one-on-one with Rockland County Executive Ed Day
A one-on-one with Rockland County Executive Ed Day Photo Credit: Tina Traster

ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- The closing of Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center in Pomona will define Rockland County Executive Ed Day’s tenure, no matter how long he serves office. The issue, Day says, was like the proverbial “can being kicked down the road. It was time to make a decision.”

Approaching nearly two years in office, Day’s primary focus has been to put the county’s finances in order. Selling or closing Summit Park were the only two options to suppress a 15- to 20-percent 2016 tax increase.

Trying to maintain the facility would have amounted to a “reckless” fiscal act. When the deal to sell Summit Park to Sympaticare fell through last month, some legislators were still hopeful the sale could be salvaged. Day said it was time to pull the plug.

“When I took office I made a decision not to be in the business (of running Summit Park) in 2016,” he added.

The county executive said he extended several extensions to Sympaticare to close the sale, while losing millions. In the 11th hour, prospective buyer Shalom Braunstein of Monsey sent an amended agreement to the county’s Local Development Corporation, but Day rejected them, and moved forward to file closure documents with the state.

Is there any chance other legislators will override his decision?

“If they want to challenge the budget, hire the employees back, and raise taxes,” he said, with a hint of dismissiveness.

Day, along with everyone else, is shocked and saddened by the failed $32 million sale of the nursing home, which will be emptied by Dec. 31, and converted into county offices. A steady man with a stoic gaze, Day’s face grimaces with pain when he talks about the facility’s residents, their family members, and the 325 personnel and county employees who will lose their jobs.

Day's $723 million 2016 budget shaves $43 million off last year’s through the divestiture of Summit Park, attrition of staff, the $4 million sale of New City’s Sain building, which is being brokered now, and cost controls in running the government. A $4 million surplus also helped reduce the proposed 2016 budget.

Day beams with pride when talking about recent upgrades in financial ratings from Moody’s and Standard & Poors. Last September, the office of the State Comptroller issued a report saying the county had improved its score by 20 percent from 2013 to 2014.

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