Board restores funding for social safety net services and reduces tax increase to low 2.9%

12/15/2009 10:17:01 AM

 

 

(White Plains, NY) ~ After weeks of deliberation, the Westchester County Board of Legislators reached final agreement and, tonight, voted to approve the Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 county operating budget.  The $1.8 billion dollar budget includes 3.3% estimate of sales tax growth in 2010, eliminates a combination of twelve filled and vacant staff positions and took a vacancy factor in almost all county departments for added savings, includes a consolidation of the county’s departments of health and mental health and continues the transfer of non-mandated programs.  The budget protects essential County services and cut the tax increase to a low 2.9%. Westchester County Board Chairman William J. Ryan (D, WFP-White Plains) said “the budget adoption was the result of hundreds of hours of serious discussion where legislators and staff worked to reduce spending and lower the tax rate.”  The Board worked through the nation’s most difficult economic crisis since the Great Depression, exercising great care to protect our residents and keep our triple “A” financial bond ratings at the highest level. This budget includes keeping vital day-care slots available for needy families and preserving programs for our county’s seniors.  “This is one of the toughest budgets our county has faced in decades,” said Chairman Ryan.  “I am proud of the hard and difficult work that my colleagues and our staff did to protect core services such as neighborhood health centers, child care, and legal assistance for the indigent and public safety services among many others that will keep our people safe and secure.” 

 

Highlights of the 2010 proposed budget include: 

 

  • Millions in savings in federal aid from Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP)
  • Transfer of non-mandated programs to local providers
  • Reduction of staff positions countywide (transfer of non-mandated programs & vacancy factors)
  • $13.6 million dollar Capital program for road  and other critical infrastructure projects
  • No raises for Commissioners or Deputy Commissioners
  • Full restoration on proposed countywide furloughs for all employees

Per our Charter mandate, the Board held numerous hearings on the FY10 budget that included over a hundred hours of testimony.  The Board heard from county agencies and well over 150 members of the public during weeks of regional public hearings.  This year’s budget details many of the concerns expressed by agency commissioners, Legislators and average Westchester residents during the FY10 preliminary budget hearings.   “This agreement will balance the operating budget during one of the most tumultuous economic times in recent memory,” said the Board’s Committee on Budget and Appropriations Chairman Jose Alvarado (D-Yonkers).  “This has not been an easy budget to craft, but tonight, I’m gratified that we are able to balance a budget that will protect core county services, and keep residents safe and healthy”.  

 

This budget was accomplished despite a 4% increase of in contractual raises for union employees; millions in additional state and federally mandated social services; and other mandated costs. If these costs were not addressed, it could have resulted in a 4.9% property tax increase.  “This budget takes into consideration the current economic climate, both locally and nationally,” said Chairman Alvarado. “Overall, this budget shows, once again, that this Board can come together for the benefit of all Westchester residents.” 

 

“I want to congratulate Chairmen Ryan and Alvarado, my fellow Legislators and Board staff members for their extraordinary work in negotiating this budget under the tough fiscal circumstances we face currently, as well as uncertainty that exists in Albany at this time,” said Majority Leader Martin Rogowsky (D-Port Chester). “In these most difficult economic times, we are able to protect the most vulnerable residents in restoring budget cuts to the safety net, while remaining fiscally responsible. There were tough choices to be made; however, we have successfully negotiated a budget that will protect working class Westchester residents.” 
Click here to view 2010 Adopted Budget

 

FINAL VOTE TALLY: 

YES (in favor of approval)

 

 

NO (not in favor of approval)

 

 

Rogowsky, Martin (D)

 

 

 Harckham, Peter (D)

 

 

Oros, George (R)

 

 

 Nonna, John (D)

 

 

Ryan, William (D)

 

 

 Kaplowitz, Michael (D)

 

 

Bronz, Lois (D)

 

 

Myers, Judith (D)

 

 

Abinanti, Thomas (D)

 

 

Burton, William (D)

 

 

Williams, Lyndon (D)

 

 

Maisano, James (R)

 

 

Spreckman, Bernice (R)

 

 

Burrows, Gordon (R)

 

 

Jenkins, Kenneth (D)

 

 

Pinto, Vito (D)

 

 

Alvarado, Jose (D)