Alex Gromack Addresses Surcharge, New Highway PT Position

Gromack suggested that the civic association invite Clarkstown Town Assessor Cathy Conklin to their next monthly meeting as a guest speaker


With a few controversial Clarkstown items happening recently and Supervisor Alex Gromack on the list of guest speakers, more than 60 people filled the seats at Thursday’s Nanuet Civic Association meeting.

Many were interested in what Gromack had to say about the on school tax bills and the new Highway Department’s , which pays $75,000 a year. Frank Sparaco, a Rockland County legislator, was hired for this position by Highway Superintendent Wayne Ballard.

Unfortunately there was not enough time left for many questions from the public so Gromack said that he will return for a later civic meeting to answer the public’s questions.

“Orangetown is looking at a 15 percent tax hike … they’re trying to manage as best as they can, but the numbers aren’t working,” said Gromack. “In the town of Clarkstown, we’ve done some things that have structurally changed government. The last three years, we had a 1.6 percent tax hike, 2011 we had 0 (percent tax hike) and 2012, a 0 (percent tax hike). How did we do it? We reduced our workforce by 15 percent, we consolidated offices … we didn’t rehire (people for certain positions) … Just the other day, we consolidated the town garages … over the next six years, that will be a million-dollar savings.”

He added that these tactics have allowed him and the Clarkstown town board to avoid high tax hikes.

“We need to talk about where we are as a town and a county because that is a fundamental. We are being poorly treated by the county executive,” said Gromack, adding that he and the town board are going to fight Vanderhoef’s policies that hurt towns and schools, but the fight comes at a price.

“We’re going to fight it, but there’s going to be some pain in fighting it,” he said. “(Orangetown Supervisor) Andy Stewart is looking at a 15 percent tax hike. I don’t believe we’re going to be anywhere near that …  For this year, we’re getting a $2 million bill from Scott Vanderhoef that we never had to pay before,” such as towns contributing to Rockland Community College and taking over some of the costs of monitoring mosquito trappings, which is a county responsibility.

Gromack said that decisions made by County Executive Scott Vanderhoef are hurting the towns, which led to Clarkstown’s addition of the 1 percent surcharge as a processing fee to collect school taxes.

Gromack said that the town had been able to collect the taxes without charging a fee for many years and were happy to to do so. In comparison, "Ramapo collected a fee for over 20 years, Haverstraw for 15 years, Orangetown did it last year. We never had to do it, but when the county executive gave us a $2 million bill this year … we said, something’s got to give … so yes, we had to do an assessment to help balance the books. The sad part is, if we collect $1.5 million (from the surcharge) … that money’s going to go right back to Scott Vanderhoef.”

Gromack added that Legislators Ed Day and Chris Carey are two that fight for the towns on the legislature. He also suggested that the civic association invite Clarkstown Town Assessor Cathy Conklin to their next monthly meeting as a guest speaker.


The second concern many had at the meeting was Sparaco’s new part-time position. Unfortunately, Ballard was not present due to a scheduling conflict.

Gromack responded that the appointment was something he and the town board had no control over.

“The appointment of the people in the Highway Department under New York State Law is an appointment solely by the superintendent of highways,” he said. “Mr. Ballard said he will come and will explain it.”

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Watchdog September 07, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Full of it, just like a Christmas turkey. Gromack increased your taxes by an additional 1%...anything else is a lie.
Watchdog September 07, 2012 at 04:23 PM
In the end, taxpayers pay up, explanations mean crap.
Watchdog September 07, 2012 at 04:25 PM
If he didn't approve multi year double digit increases for our $200,000 cops we would not get a surcharge. Money is fungible Alex. And you keep taking it from us.
Kim Tran (Editor) September 07, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Thanks, I'll clarify that
Clarkstown life September 07, 2012 at 11:32 PM
You are all class
Michael N. Hull September 08, 2012 at 12:26 AM
We may be 'class' but Shirley you know the Town Board is 'crass' when it was prepared with a 'whimper' to give the highest paid police force in the United States a 13% pay rise over the duration of its present 5 year contract and it is now prepared with a bang to place a 1% ($1.4 million from Clarkstown School District residents and business owners) surcharge on the educational system of Clarkstown's children.  Those are the facts. Also Nimick is correct what the Board has created it can undo. It has created a monstrosity of a position under Ballard and needs to undo that piece of damage it has caused too. Eliminate the position and then we can deal with Ballard if he retains Sparaco. The Town Board is complicit in the appoinment.
Clarkstown life September 08, 2012 at 12:43 AM
You say 'highest paid police force' as if it is a bad thing. Highly educated and well trained from what I can tell......and not many costly lawsuits for inappropriate actions like you read about in other locations.... because they are well trained + well paid = money well spent.
Michael N. Hull September 08, 2012 at 12:45 AM
<<<<“Orangetown is looking at a 15 percent tax hike … they’re trying to manage as best as they can, but the numbers aren’t working,” said Gromack.>>> Sure divert the discussion to Orangetown. Its Board did the same thing yours did - gave the police a 13% pay raise over 5 years.  At least their Supervisor, Andy Stewart, voted 'NO' while you, Mr Gromack, voted 'YES'. <<<<The last three years, we had a 1.6 percent tax hike, 2011 we had 0 (percent tax hike) and 2012, a 0 (percent tax hike). How did we do it? We reduced our workforce by 15 percent, we consolidated offices … we didn’t rehire (people for certain positions) … Just the other day, we consolidated the town garages … over the next six years, that will be a million-dollar savings.”>>>> You ran a deficit budget.  That's how you did it.   Clarkstown has been running at a loss since 2008!  Clarkstown's budget is not in balance! It is using a reserve fund to meet expenses.  In 2009, Clarkstown negotiated the sale of its Solid Waste Transfer Station and established a ‘Tax Stabilization Fund’ with the proceeds which it added to its existing reserve fund of $7 Million.  That fund of $22 Million is being depleted at an alarming rate - $4.4 Million were removed from it last year.  It will be gone in two years if the Palisades Mall wins its case to get it's school taxes reduced. http://newcity.patch.com/blog_posts/looking-through-my-bills
Michael N. Hull September 08, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Shirley you have read the NY Times article entitled 'Crime May Not Pay, but in this Town (Clarkstown), Fighting It Sure Does' where it states: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/03/nyregion/03clarkstown.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all In 2008, Chief Noonan made $332,529.88. He was not even the highest paid: one of his two captains earned $335,676, while working two days a week because of a disability and spending three days a week undergoing physical therapy. The other captain earned $311,369.  The 50 highest-earning Clarkstown employees were all members of the Police Department, with those 50 earning roughly $10 million, or about $200,000 each on average.   Supervisor Gromack called the police salaries "obscene".   The article continued: By comparison, the New York City police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, makes $189,700, and average annual pay for city police officers ranges from $43,062 for a cadet entering the academy to $90,829 for an officer with five and a half years on the job, including overtime and other earnings Since Gromack called the police salaries 'obscene' he has negotiated two further contracts the last one giving 13% more over five years. Those are the facts.  School surcharges are subsidizing "obscene" salaries. http://newcity.patch.com/blog_posts/two-jokes-one-humorous-one-laughable
stephany September 08, 2012 at 01:50 AM
The law on this page states towns MUST collect a 1% fee. http://nanuet.patch.com/articles/nanuet-schools-opposes-clarkstown-s-school-tax-increase#pdf-11194546 It is not an option to not collect it if it is not dispensed with by the town council. It must be collected is the wording I believe. It never was dispensed with so how is it the town employees Gromack, Mele, the town council and the tax collector at the very least did not break this law,for whatever reason, and if they can break the law why not break it with respect to the Sparaco appointment where Gromack states the law says it is solely up to Ballard and they can have no input. If they can't break the law, like us, who resigns first-then gets investigated.Ignorance is no defense. The law is the law. It make no distinction as to the persons or towns motives.It does not say only if you need it. It says you MUST collect it or you are in violation of the law The question to Gromack is what about that law,as it is written, leads you to believe you did not willfully break it. Again:ignorance and motive is no defense I find it very unusual for any politician to not take credit for saving the taxpayers 1%. which leads me to believe 1] they couldn't take credit because they knew they were breaking the law or 2] they were ignorant of it till recently and wanted the money so bad they had to risk it and hope nobody noticed amidst their other shenanigans. I vote 1+2
amy durbin September 08, 2012 at 09:19 AM
You are right Watchdog. Scott sends a bill to Gromack and Gromack is outraged but not outraged enough to do the same thing to the schools. What a joke. And as always, the taxpayer is the punch line.
Watchdog September 08, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Time to consider privatizing the out of control police department.
Mike Hirsch September 08, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Shirely you jest. There is only a minor correlation between the job that people do and their salaries. It is well known in the business world that job performance has more to do with job satisfaction than salary. Another question for you - Ed Day has refused county health coverage. I believe he has done so partly out of principle and partly because as a retired NYC detective he already has coverage. As a retired NY teacher I assume that you have coverage. Are you also covered by Clarkstown, thus having double coverage at taxpayer expense?
Clarkstown life September 08, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Privatizing???? I don't claim to be an expert on how the pd is run but that sounds completely ridiculous. Do tell.....how much would you pay for the 'privatization'......another left field comment from a disgusted!
amy durbin September 08, 2012 at 06:17 PM
how about the consolidation of all police departments in Rockland? Or bring in the State police. They make a lot less.
Clarkstown life September 09, 2012 at 12:01 AM
yea consolidation --- thats just what residents of clarkstown want. as much as you disgusted taxpayers think you represent clarkstown residents - you don't! If i wanted you to represent me for anything, i would've voted for your candidate(s).
INTHEKNOW September 09, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Yes, lets consolidate our Police dept into one county police dept, so Mr. Schoenberger and Ms. Cornell can be in charge (at least on paper.. Twersky will really run the show) and the people of Clarkstown, Stony Point and Orangetown can pay the same to have the cop in their neighborhood relocated to Spring Valley or Haverstraw. The county has done such a great job with things, lets give them law enforcement. I wouldn't trust the county of Rockland to run a countywide garbage collection effort. And Amy Durbin.. do you have any idea what troopers make? Do you ever check your facts before posting... ???
Michael N. Hull September 09, 2012 at 04:19 AM
Clarkstown Life: You are woefully ill-informed.  I could give you two dozen references to municipalities outsourcing or consolidating police services.  You can start with these if you care .... http://townofossining.com/info/reports/police_options.htm http://princeton.patch.com/articles/residents-debate-pros-and-cons-of-consolidation http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-north/fourteen-towns-discuss-police-consolidation-616183/?p=0 http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2010/11/17/westchester-begins-takeover-of-ossining-police-dept/ Your dislike of the Clarkstown Taxpayers is unbecoming as are your comments regarding the Bardonia QC.  We are not affected by your use of the word 'disgusted' but we do feel a sense of sadness that a person of your ability feels so threatened about us. It doesn't speak well for your self-esteem or sense of self-worth.   Take some time after one of the Town Board meetings to address your concerns with me personally.  You might find that we have a lot more in common than you know. I have had a lot of respect for you in the past but it is diminishing.
Clarkstown life September 09, 2012 at 11:46 AM
Mr.. Hull.....firstly, congrats for not referencing yourself for a change when presenting facts. Secondly, get off your soapbox....it may work with your group but not everyone likes a 'know it all'. .....and boy, is there anything you and your group doesn't know? By the way, your group absolutely WAS affected by 'disgusted' or else you wouldn't have tried to legitimize yourselves with the change to 'clarkstown'. Any positive ideas your group has is lost in the delivery. Lastly, thanks for the self help tips......but you don't know me.....and I think that a quick check would be wonderful in bardonia.
Michael N. Hull September 09, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Dear Clarkstown life <<<Mr.. Hull.....firstly, congrats for not referencing yourself for a change when presenting facts.>>> 1) Congrats for recognizing that I do present 'facts'.  ;-) <<<thanks for the self help tips......but you don't know me...>>> 2) Sadly you were made known to me some time ago but your secret is safe.   3) Not wanting to appear as a "know-it-all" might I point out, however, that it's a "QuickChek" not a "Quick Check". Shall we leave it there?  I don't want to make you feel any more 'disgusted'.
VinnyfromCongers September 09, 2012 at 06:59 PM
The state police can barely cover the palisades parkway and they close their station overnight. It is NOT an option.
Kim Tran (Editor) September 12, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Hi Dan. I added another video quote from Alex Gromack from this civic meeting to help further clarify that part of his talk that you referred to.
William Smith Jr September 13, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Mike Hirsch September 13, 2012 at 02:12 PM
I don't think that the citizens of our county want a county police force. Replacing the CPD with a state trooper barracks is a viable option and will reduce costs substantially, though that may be difficult to accomplish politically. Current CPD officers would get preference, though at a lower pay scale. The easiest thing to do is to simply cut the CPD budget. We have a very intelligent and highly regarded police chief. I'm sure he'll be able to figure it out. Augment the auxilliary police and put our highly paid officers on the street instead of the office. Also cut OT. It's not brain surgery, just good business.
INTHEKNOW September 13, 2012 at 02:33 PM
No Mike, replacing the CPD with a trooper barracks is not a viable option. The State police hired their first class in four years recently, and can barely cover the roads. The village of Johnson City considered eliminating their department, and having the county sheriff and State police take over. The State Police told them that they would respond to major events, if called, but would not add any personnel to the area,so good luck getting a cop for anything short of a bank robbery or murder. The (Broome) County Sheriff told them he would do the same thing, but if he had to assign people permanently to the village, he would have to create a special tax district to cover the costs.. There is no way the sherrif could assign a disproportionate amount of personnel to one part of the county at the expense of the rest. But then again, you're an expert on everything. You throw out "ideas" and solutions that dont withstand 60 seconds of scrutiny, and pat yourself on the back for being a genious. You constantly state that the CPD could use 50 less officers, when in reality they are even now at least 45 officers fewer than what the FBI and the DOJ say that should be staffed. Sure, just make all the town cops state troopers.. great idea.... no problems at all.. the rest of the state taxpayers will go right along with that. Also, you want to "cut ot, cause its not brain surgery" Well which do you want, less cops, or less OT, can't have both.
Mike Hirsch September 13, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Let's say that replacing the CPD with a state barracks is not a viable option. That leaves cutting the CPD budget as the only way to reduce town expenditures and taxes in this regard. That can be done with a swipe of Alex's pen. I say just do it. Will crime increase in Clarkstown? I doubt it.
INTHEKNOW September 13, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Yep, just call the state police, they will be happy to respond from Tarrytown or Monroe, as the Haverstraw barracks are closed at 11 pm. Aside from you and your band of self important blowhards, most of us have no problem with the CPD. They are a top notch dept. that does more than you will ever know, much more than is reported, and are a well respected dept in the region and beyond.
Mike Hirsch September 13, 2012 at 05:44 PM
I, and I think most of the residents, don't have a problem with the job that the CPD does. They do a good job. The problem that I, and I think most of the residents do have, is that their pay scale and benefit package is out of control and which translates directly to our too high tax burden. Thanks in large part to the work of our group, the CPD operates with 10 fewer officers than it did three years ago. I have not noticed an increase in crime. We have helped save the town $2,000,000/yr on this issue alone. You can thank us for the 0% tax increases that you've seen in your bill for the past three years by sending us a contribution in order that we may continue with our good work. www.clarkstowntaxpayers.com
ELITECZM September 19, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Ya know, every single comment from you, regardless of what the actual article is in reference to somehow has "Brega Transportation" in it. Why is it that you have such a gigantic hard on for this company? Are you just against him running a contract? Are you an employee of one of his competitors trying to slander him? Or is it that you simply believe yourself to be a Transit god (judging by yet more comments.) All I have seen you do is sling Richard Brega's name and business into the mud. Seems like you have a personal agenda against the guy....grow up "william smith". And to answer your rebuttal - no, I am not a "Supporter" of Brega. I just think it is disgusting that you sit here and polute other people with your distastefull, slanderous, childish, and most importantly immature badgering of a Rockland Business man, who by all means seems to be trying to save the county some money.
ELITECZM September 20, 2012 at 01:47 PM
You can drop the caps lock, its not going to do anything but affirm what i mentioned before - immature behavior. I think you missed my entire point - What does Brega have to do with the appointment of an official? Where does this tie in to School tax (wether owed or not)? Get a grip, stop polluting every single article with your singleminded badgering of someone you obviously have a problem with. Wether that problem exists due to personal or professional reasons is irrelevant. Oh, and by the way....he underbid by 7 million, not 5. Drink your coffee and wake up before you make claims of knowledge that you cannot back. Good day sir.


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