Board & Committee Meeting Preview: Items for Discussion

12/11/2009 4:52:52 PM

 

 

Please note: Latest Board and committee meeting agendas (including “TBA” agendas) posted at www.westchesterlegislators.com/calendar

 

Monday, December 14, 2009

 

10:00 AM

 

Regular Meeting of the County BOARD OF LEGISLATORS Streamed Live

 

  • Distinguished Service Awards – honoring Legislators Lois Bronz and George Oros 
  • Public Hearing: Housing Opportunity Commission Law, to extend the term of the Westchester County Opportunity Commission from December 31, 2009 to June 30, 2010 

 

 

2:00 PM

 

Special Meeting of the County BOARD OF LEGISLATORS  

 

  • Vote on the 2010 County Operating Budget 
  • Vote on the Determination of County & Special District Taxes: Act fixing and determining the amounts of the County and Special District Taxes for 2010

 

 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

 

3:30 PM

 

Septic Sub-committee (Env.)—Hon. Pete Harckham, Chair; Contact: Wendy Wild (995-2883)

 

  •  Agenda TBA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12/14/2009 1:38:19 PM

 

 

Legislator George Oros, flanked by Board of Legislators Chairman William Ryan and Minority Whip Jim Maisano, received the Board of Legislators Award for Distinguished Service at the December 14 meeting. Oros, the Minority Leader who was first elected to the board in 1995, was praised by Maisano as “an incredibly principled guy” and “a gentleman.” “George, you are all about the good things about politics,” Maisano said. “He worked 24 hours a day for his district. He gave everything he had.” Oros said it had been a blesing to serve as a legislator for 15 years.

 

 

 

 

 

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please note: Votes were unanimous (17-0) unless otherwise indicated.

12/15/2009 12:13:45 PM

 

 

10:00 AM Regular Meeting of the Board of Legislators

 

Legislators George Oros and Lois Bronz Honored
Legislators unanimously approved resolutions conferring the Westchester County Board of Legislators Award for Distinguished Service the Honorable Lois Bronz and the Honorable George Oros for their years of service on the Board. Please check the Board of Legislators Web site for photos of the Board’s tribute to Legislators Bronz and Oros. 

 

APPROVED: Housing Opportunity Commission Law
Following a public hearing held on the item, legislators approved a Local Law to extend the term of the Westchester County Housing Opportunity Commission from December 31, 2009 to June 30, 2010. 

 

PUBLIC HEARING SET: Flowers Park (New Rochelle)
Public Hearing on a Local Law authorizing the County of Westchester to enter into an intermunicipal agreement with the City of New Rochelle whereby the County will lease property from the City and will contribute funds toward the design and construction of improvements thereon, to be operated and maintained by the City and accessible to all County residents, has been set for Monday, December 21, 2009 at 6:00 PM.

 

APPROVED: Name Change—Grodensky Law Group
Act authorizing the County of Westchester to amend a retainer agreement to recognize the change in name, organizational status and address of the law firm retained by the County to provide legal collection services to Westchester Community College, from Le Schack & Grodensky, P.C., New York, New York, to Grodensky Law Group, PLLC, Port Washington, New York. 

 

APPROVED: Payment of Mortgage Tax Receipts
Act to authorize the Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Finance to pay Mortgage Tax Receipts to Westchester Cities, Towns and Villages. 

 

APPROVED: Bond Act Amendment for Yonkers Recreation Enhancements
Amended Bond Act authorizing the issuance of $7,225,000 in bonds to finance Capital Project RYON4: Yonkers Recreation Enhancements.

 

APPROVED: Refunding Bond Act
Act authorizing the County of Westchester to advance refund all, or a portion of the outstanding 1998-B Bonds, 2000-C Bonds, 2110-F Bonds, 2002-E Bonds, 2002-F Bond, 2003-B Bonds, 2004-C Bonds, 2005-C Bonds, 2006-C Bonds, 2007-A Bonds and 2007-B Bonds and would authorize the issuance of up to $315,000,000 in Serial Bonds. 

 

APPROVED: 4th Street Playground (Mount Vernon)
Act authorizing the County of Westchester to enter into an intermunicipal agreement with the City of Mount Vernon whereby the County will lease property from the City and will contribute funds toward the design of improvements thereon, to be operated and maintained by Mount Vernon, and accessible to all County residents. Also approved, $250,000 in bonds to cover the County’s share of the design for this playground/parkland project. 

 

APPROVED: Personnel Amendment
Resolution to revise, eliminate and/or amend certain staff titles and pay ranges in order to improve the efficiency of the Board of Legislators. 

 

 

 

2:00 PM Special Meeting of the Board of Legislators 

 

APPROVED: Adoption of County Budget — FY2010
Act adopting the Westchester County Budget and making appropriations for the conduct of County government for the year 2010. The approved $1.8 billion dollar budget includes a tax increase of 2.9%, 3.3% estimate of sales tax growth in 2010, eliminates a combination of twelve filled and vacant staff positions and takes a vacancy factor in almost all county departments for added savings. More information on the final budget vote can be accessed by clicking on the following link: http://www.westchesterlegislators.com/MediaCenter/articleDetail.asp?artid=1167 

 

APPROVED: Determination of County & Special District Taxes
Act fixing and determining the amounts of the County and Special District Taxes for 2010 and levying such amounts upon the real property liable therefore. This information will be available on the County Board’s Web site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12/16/2009 9:00:11 AM

 

 

 

Dear Neighbor,

 

On Monday, I voted against Westchester County’s $1.8 billion 2010 budget, which was narrowly approved 9-8 by the Board of Legislators. The budget includes a 2.9% tax levy increase.

 

While the approved budget is $11 million less than originally proposed, I do not believe the cuts went far enough toward my goal of reducing spending and, in turn, the burden on taxpayers. 

 

I also believe that the budget’s revenue projections were too optimistic in these tough economic times. I could not in good conscience vote for a proposal that relies on unknowns like increased revenue from Playland and the Westchester Medical Center.

 

I’d like to reassure you, especially those who spoke out on these issues, that I was pleased that the budget retained funding for the arts, children’s programs and important environmental protection initiatives. But, overall, I believe we could have retained that funding and imposed greater spending reductions in other areas.

 

With a 2.62% spending increase, the budget approved Monday is $48 million larger than the county’s 2009 budget.  This was driven largely by increased costs in areas over which the county has no control, including social services and children with special needs programs, state retirement contributions and employee health insurance. On the revenue side, another factor beyond the county’s control is the economic downturn. County sales tax collections are projected to be $45 million less in 2010.  The infusion of $38 million in federal “stimulus” dollars will certainly help but it is simply not enough to close the the spending/revenue gap that was the starting point for our deliberations over the 2010 budget. 

 

Facing such serious challenges, I felt more strongly than ever that I could not support a budget that asks taxpayers to foot the bill for miscellaneous items, such as $1 million worth of  legislator “earmarks” set aside for “pet projects.” While the county represents just 17% of your property tax bill, I weighed very heavily the impact of any property tax increase on our community.

 

I do believe there are unrealized opportunities to further cut spending through consolidating and streamlining departments– a goal I hope will be achieved with help from our new County Executive. I also sincerely hope that we are on the brink of better times when the county can once again tap sources of revenue other than its residents to preserve and even improve the quality of life we strive to enjoy.  Let’s hope those times await us in the year ahead.

 

Best Regards,