(WHITE PLAINS, NY) As the Board of Legislators goes through the additions and deletions phase of the budget process, several members of the Board have released a plan to restore services provided by many non-profit agencies, realize millions in energy and electricity savings and continue to operate without raising any taxes.  The estimated restorations totaled slightly over $6 million and were offset by nearly $17 million in additional non-tax-hike revenues.  The $17 million of revenue was comprised of $12.5 million from the sale of a property in Yonkers and over $4 million in savings that can be achieved through energy efficiencies.  Many of these suggestions were voted down during a recent meeting of the Budget Committee.

Legislator Catherine Borgia, (D-Ossining, Majority Leader) said, “There are more efficiencies within the County Budget that have not been explored or executed prior to calling for a tax increase.  The Democratic Caucus will continue to find those revenues and bring them to fruition in order to pay for the valuable services that were slated to be cut by the County Executive.  The taxpayers of Westchester deserve a responsible and strategic budget that preserves our safety, security and quality of life.”

The sale of a site on Austin Avenue in Yonkers is near completion and would generate substantial revenue for the County.  The City of Yonkers and Westchester are currently in dispute over how to split the proceeds of the sale.  The Board of Legislators “coalition-caucus” voted against incorporating this revenue into the budget.

Legislator Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) added, “To not include this revenue in the budget, especially after the County Executive mentioned it during his initial budget presentation, is only going to further tie our hands as we attempt to preserve vital services.  This budget includes revenue projections from other real property sales (375 Executive Blvd in Yonkers) that have not been completed yet as well as money from the stalled Playland deal.  The resulting revenues from the Austin Avenue sale would be no different.  This is a conservative estimate of what the County’s prospective share and would go a long way to preserving services and restoring fund balance.”

As a member of the Budget Committee, Catherine Parker (D-Rye) asked to consider a high level energy audit conducted by Westchester County in 2012, which recommended a list of energy efficiencies that are available to existing county infrastructure.  In several dozen recommendations, this audit found that there are approximately $3.4 million in energy efficiencies that the county can realize.

On top of the recommendations contained in that report, Westchester County oversees several buildings and nearly 160 miles of roadways including the Bronx River Parkway that could be lit with cost-efficient LED lighting, something Legislator Borgia included as a capital project in the 2015 budget and reintroduced it in the 2016 capital budget.  Many municipalities have gone to this lighting technology and have found savings instantly.  Several municipalities including the Cities of New Rochelle and Yonkers and Town of Eastchester (home of BoL Budget Chair Sheila Marcotte) have already switched to these energy efficient lights and seen cost reductions.  New Rochelle and Yonkers have found between $90 and $100 in savings per light fixture since they have begun utilizing energy efficient lighting.  It is ideal that there be approximately 53 streetlights to every mile of road by New York recommendations.  With a conservative calculation of $90 in savings per streetlight, Westchester will save an addition $763,200.

“It is budgeted that we are going to spend nearly $24 million on various utility costs this year and following some of the recommendations outlined in this audit would reduce that number significantly,” stated Legislator Mary Jane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson), who chairs the Board’s Infrastructure Committee.  “Our capital plan for the next few years is anemic and undertaking any number of these projects would yield significant returns on the taxpayer’s investment.”
Legislator Catherine Parker (D-Rye), the Chair of the Board’s Energy and Environment Committee said, “We created a position for an Energy Director who is supposed to help us find these savings.  Once again the administration has failed to direct him to do that.  At this rate, without finding these very easy savings, the position is just another patronage job that falls within Rob Astorino’s already bloated staff.”