RE: Proposed housing settlement with federal government

9/4/2009 10:56:52 AM



This week, the Board of Legislators continued its full consideration and thorough review of the proposed affordable housing settlement with the federal government and the bonding needed to fund the costs related to the settlement.


Our legislative review process began more than two weeks ago with the work of the Board’s Budget and Appropriations Committee on the settlement Act and Bond Act.  Our Committee discussion proved to be a productive first step in our process.  We made specific inquiries into the history of the fair housing lawsuit and the chief issues and concerns raised by this matter.  We obtained needed information from the Administration and our attorneys.  The Committee reported the settlement Act and bond Act to the full Board for appropriate action.


As the Budget and Appropriations Committee was approving the settlement and bonding, I pledged to the members of the legislature the continuation of our process of full consideration and thorough review.  We would continue to meet with relevant parties to get all the information we deem necessary for the full Board to make the correct decision on this matter. I called a series of Committee of the Whole meetings for this purpose.


This week, in two lengthy Committee of the Whole meetings involving our outside attorneys and County Attorney, representatives of the Spano Administration, bond counsel, and State agency heads, the full Board continued its due diligence.


The time spent thus far in deliberations, gathering important information and gaining additional understanding of the county’s obligations and responsibilities in this proposed settlement agreement, has been invaluable.  More time, however, is needed by the Board to continue its necessary work.


Although the settlement Act and Bond Act, reported out of Committee, will be live on the agenda of the Board’s September 8 regular meeting, I will not call for a vote on these items at that meeting.   Rather, I am directing our review process forward and I will continue to use the Committee of the Whole for our work sessions.  In this way, all Board members will have the opportunity to participate and our proceedings will continue to be open and transparent to the public.  I will be consulting with Board leadership over this weekend and will release on Tuesday a schedule for our work sessions.


All issues and questions considered, this may well be the most complex matter to ever come before the Board of Legislators and our decision here may be the most important decision any legislative body has had to make in the history of this county.  This will be a defining action for this Legislature.


I commend all members of the Board for the time and effort they have put into this review.  Their work has been outstanding.  And that work will continue to ensure that we are fully informed and prepared to make the correct decision for all of the people and taxpayers of Westchester County.