RE: Release of the County Executives FY10 Executive Budget

11/16/2009 11:55:47 AM



The County Executive has delivered to the Board of Legislators his proposed County budget for fiscal year 2010.  Considering the weak economy, more and more residents relying on County programs and services for basic needs, the reduction of sales tax and other revenue to the County, and taxpayers asking for property tax relief, this could not have been an easy budget to put together.  I appreciate his efforts and those of the Budget Department. 


The Legislature’s analysis of the County Executive’s proposed budget begins today and as we work through this process with the Administration we must look for the best opportunities to streamline, cut costs and improve the organization of our county government operation.  We must make our best effort to do more with less. 


The time has come for government to work smarter, become more efficient and less expensive.  This needs to be the objective of government at every level: federal, state, county and local, and every form: general purpose, school districts, authorities and special districts.  Westchester County government should immediately accept this challenge and be a model for other units of government to follow.  If others are reluctant, Westchester County should lead by example. 


County government should help our localities streamline and reduce costs by consolidating functions and programs, centralizing operations and delivering services regionally as needed.  If the Westchester community with all of its taxing jurisdictions is going to be in the national headlines each year, let it not be for having the highest combined property tax bill in America, but let it be for real progress and innovation in service delivery and cost containment. 


I know that property taxes are too high in Westchester.  In these tough economic times, we can’t afford to pay more taxes.  Overburdened taxpayers look at their tax bills for schools, local and county government, and plead for property tax relief.  I also know that the law requires the county to care for people most in need.  Our budget decisions cannot place an unfair burden on those who have the least and we cannot balance the budget on the backs of our working families.  We must do a better job balancing the delivery of essential services with the need to cut costs.  We look forward to working with the Administration on a budget that will preserve the core services that are critically important to many Westchester residents.


Over a year ago, the bottom fell out of the national economy with the financial and banking sector hardest hit.   Wall Street’s woes became Main Street’s problem.  Westchester County government, the administrative arm of the State for service delivery, has worked through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and we have remained financially strong and stable.  But, the financial crisis has forced all of us in government to assess our priorities.  The Board of Legislators takes seriously the importance of doing so at this critical point in time.