Westchester County Legislators

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2017 County Budget Continues County Executive’s Fiscal Mismanagement

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(WHITE PLAINS, NY) The Westchester County Board of Legislators adopted a budget today for the 2017 year that stretches Westchester County’s operations to the thinnest of all time and remains structurally imbalanced according to numerous independent opinions, including the League of Women Voters and the Citizen Budget Advisory Committee. Once again the County Executive has relied on accounting gimmicks, one-shot revenues and suspect revenue projections, including income from a proposed public-private partnership at the Westchester Airport. At a meeting earlier today, the BOL unanimously passed a resolution asserting a legislative leadership role in issuing an RFP to solicit other possible opportunities to increase revenue because of widespread dissatisfaction about the way the County Executive’s initial proposal was solicited and presented to the board. Democratic Caucus members of the Board of Legislators voted against the budget because of the continuing long-standing structural imbalance and fiscal irresponsibility.


“Westchester taxpayers are being faced with the reality that this County Executive has put the County’s financial future at risk through seven years of structurally unsound and unsustainable budgets that will cost taxpayers greatly in future years,” Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining, Majority Leader) stated. “We are pleased that we were able to compromise with our Republican colleagues to add vital services that will wind up saving taxpayers money, such as money to community-based organizations and an increase in child care funding. However, we realize that the County is charting a dangerous course by continuing to rely on on-shot revenues, especially ones that might not come to fruition during the calendar year for which they are budgeted.”


The final budget agreement is “balanced” on the inclusion of $15 million of revenue related to the County Executive’s airport modification proposal and a commitment to utilize $15 million of fund balance if no airport deal is reached in the coming year. As we have seen in surrounding counties, this practice can have very serious fiscal ramifications detrimental to the County’s long-term fiscal health.


“This is the worst accounting gimmick this County has ever taken part in and will undoubtedly have negative impacts as we reduce our fund balance and risk yet another bond rating downgrade,” stated Legislator Ben Boykin (D-White Plains), an MBA, CPA.


Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson) is grateful to her Board colleagues for including new engineers in the budget to deal with the nearly $1.5 billion capital project backlog, however she doubts whether the new hires, and the needed work, will actually be accomplished. “The Board of Legislators has taken steps in previous budgets to insure that the Department of Public Works had the resources it needed to function properly; but only a small percentage of the funds was actually spent for the intended purpose. As a result, our roads, bridges and other infrastructure are suffering; and with increased deterioration and rising interest rates on the horizon, our crumbling infrastructure will result in a serious fiscal reckoning in the coming years.”

 

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