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Rockland Legislature will issue notes to pay bills

Undated file photo of the Rockland County legislature.

Undated file photo of the Rockland County legislature. Photo Credit: News12

Rockland County's Legislature voted unanimously Tuesday night to issue $100 million in short term notes to cover the county's cash flow needs, a measure that will end up costing the county at least $1.5 million in interest amid a long term struggle to cope with deep-rooted budget problems.

All of the legislators -- with the exception of Legis. Edwin Day (R-New City) and Legis. Patrick Moroney (R-Pearl River), who were absent -- voted in favor of short term financial fix. There was discussion of the financing plan in last week's Budget and Finance Committee meeting, but legislators went straight to the vote Tuesday night, with little discussion.

"It's just to cover our cash flow," Legis. Ilan Schoenberger (D-Ramapo) said after last night's meeting.

The one-year notes -- $45 million in revenue anticipation and $55 million in tax anticipation notes -- are expected to sell at a "competitive" interest rate of about 1.35 percent. Essentially, the notes allow the county to spend expected revenues before they are received. When the revenue comes in, the purchasers of the notes will be paid off.

The Legislature also voted -- 14 to 1 -- to take the next steps toward issuance of bonds as a means of managing the county's debt longer term. Legis. Christopher Carey (R-Bardonia) was the only one to vote against the bond measure.

The bond strategy remains under discussion.

"I don't think we're sending the right message to both the state or the rating agencies that we're changing or addressing our behaviors that got us into this problem in the first place," Carey said to the Legislature.

Earlier in the meeting, which kicked off at 7 p.m. at the Allison-Parris County Office Building in New City, more than 200 people packed the legislative chambers to talk about gun control.

After three hours of heated debate on the state's Safe Act -- one of the toughest gun control laws in the country -- the Legislature passed a resolution submitted by Legis. Frank Sparaco (R-Valley Cottage) asking the state to repeal certain sections of the act, which was signed into law by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last month.

The Safe Act has banned certain semiautomatic weapons and limited the size of ammunition magazines to seven rounds. It also enacts stricter mental health regulations in regard to weaons possession.

A resolution supporting the Safe Act, submitted by chairwoman Harriet Cornell (D-Nyack), died by a vote of 8 to 7. The Legislature requires 9 votes to pass an item.

Sparaco's resolution asks the state to hold public hearings to address gun violence and to allow law enforcement officials to carry appropriate amounts of ammunition.

In a 10-5 vote, Legis. Jay Hood Jr. (D-Haverstraw), Alden Wolfe (D-Montebello), Nancy Low-Hogan (D-Orangeburg), Michael Grant (D-Pomona) and Cornell dissented.

Nearly two dozen area residents spoke before the Legislature, each giving a personal story as to how gun control affects their lives.

Charlotte Swift, a gun owner and domestic violence victim who frequently speaks out against gun control, was loudly applauded by the crowd after her plea.

"It was so insulting for this governor to pass a law which tells me what I may use in order to protect myself from my abuser or anyone else that comes into my house," Swift said. "I have to register? I guarantee you that my abuser hasn't registered anything, any more than anyone else has who is a criminal."

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