(WHITE PLAINS, NY) On Friday November 13th, County Executive Rob Astorino released his proposed 2016-17 Westchester County Budget.  The budget proposal was released amid third-quarter projections that show the county has a $24.7 million operating shortfall.  Members of the Democratic Caucus believe that this budget is a product of past failures that they’ve opposed in previous years and compounds the problems of the past.     

“County government is supposed to offer efficiencies that save taxpayer dollars by providing regional services and allowing local governments to reduce costs and reliance on property taxes.  Continuing cuts for public safety, healthcare and community services is only going to put additional burdens on the local governments to raise taxes and that’s not something that I can support,” said Legislator Catherine Borgia.

Lyndon Williams stated, “The Board must now exercise its legislative oversight by thoroughly reviewing this budget, assessing its impact on residents particularly the most vulnerable, and listen to residents during budget hearings.  We must make responsible decisions on the budget.”

Legislator Ben Boykin (D-White Plains) said, "The budgeting tactics of excessive borrowing to pay for operating expenses are unsustainable and bad for the people of Westchester County. This practice will surely lead to big tax hikes, which will be paid with interest, in the years to come. Borrowing for operating expenses is like using your credit cards to pay your rent."

Legislator Alan Cole (D-Lewisboro) stated, “This budget proposal clearly needs deeper examination.  There has got to be a better way to balance the needs of the taxpayer with the need for essential services.  Our recent police merger in Mt. Kisco is a good working model of how the county can do more to save money for taxpayers.”

Legislator Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) warned that this budget proposal could trigger another credit rating downgrade that would cost taxpayers $1.3 billion of capital projects.  “The Astorino administration has done nothing to address the downward spiral for Westchester’s credit rating, costing taxpayers more for essential services like roads and bridges.  County Executive Astorino’s budget proposal is fiscally irresponsible.”

Legislator Catherine Parker (D-Rye) said, “Providing support for victims of child abuse and domestic violence should be above economic concerns.  The mentality that nobody in Westchester utilizes these services is a terribly ignorant attitude.  This budget reflects that point of view by slashing these services, negatively impacting so many people.”

Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings) explained, “You cannot have a modern economy or society without safe roads and bridges.  Over time, reductions of key personnel in the Department of Public Works have resulted in massive backlogs of capital projects.  This budget proposal compounds those issues as Westchester’s roads and bridges continue to crumble every day.”

Legislator Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh) stated, “The Astorino administration’s record on child care and other human service issues is abysmal.  By failing to fund proven successful programs, we are inviting bad results and setting up taxpayers to foot the bill in years to come.  The Board of Legislators has put forward reasonable solutions multiple times to fund these programs in a cost-efficient way.”