Board Chairman Jenkins on Astorino Sick Day Proposal

2/11/2010 6:17:37 PM

Westchester County Board Chairman Ken Jenkins today issued the following statement in response to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s proposal calling for new limits of payouts for unused sick and vacation pay for County employees. 

 

“It’s somewhat strange that the County Executive would craft legislation for a policy that he can implement today through an executive order.  All of the commissioners, department heads and supervisors appointed by the County Executive have ultimate control in managing their agencies and departments as they see fit.  It’s a bit disingenuous that he would make this a matter of legislation, rather than a simple policy change under his Administration.” 

 

“The current policy, which was implemented under County Executive Andrew O’Rourke, encourages exemplary attendance of our full-time employees. The current policy provided an incentive for employees to not use sick time and encourage consistent attendance, by compensating employees half of the amount accrued with a cap on the amount of hours.” 

 

“The County Board would strongly recommend that a policy change of this magnitude should be phased in and implemented immediately for new employees. There are significant productivity issues that the Administration might want to considered.  Again, this is a management issue and we encourage the County Executive to issue an executive order today.”  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2/11/2010 6:20:25 PM

Westchester County Board Chairman Ken Jenkins today issued the following statement in response to the news of the rejection of the County’s implementation plan by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and to the federal monitor overseeing the county’s compliance with last year’s settlement of the fair and affordable housing lawsuit.  The settlement was in response to a lawsuit brought against Westchester County by the Anti-Discrimination Center (ADC), accusing the county of making false statements on federal applications about its efforts to integrate housing. 

“We have received notification regarding the implementation plan.  The federal monitor found some discrepancies in the submitted plan. The monitor identified some items that must be resolved”.  

“We are confident that the Administration will be able to work out these issues.”

(White Plains, NY) – Westchester County Board of Legislators Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) today issued the following statement after learning that Starwood Hotel’s relocation to Connecticut, which was contingent on a $90 million economic incentive package, maybe halted. Starwood, which operates 982 hotels in nearly 100 countries under nine brands, announced in November that it was moving its headquarters in White Plains and 800 jobs in 2012 to Stamford.

 

“Given the new circumstances involving the Starwoods deal, I would call upon government -- at all levels -- and representatives of our business community to work together towards creating an incentive package that would convince Starwoods to remain in Westchester County.”

 

“For many years, Westchester has played a prominent role in job retention and economic development through effective relationships with our state and local leaders, private industry and public partners.  Governor Paterson’s proposed Excelsior Jobs Program, along with his office of Economic Development, may also provide the financial support needed to collaborate on infrastructure and joint development projects, which could end up being far less expensive than playing games with taxpayer dollars.”

 

“We still believe that Westchester County is a more receptive environment for both large firms looking for new space and home-grown small businesses. Westchester County offers the right mix of business resources, financial assistance and economic incentives to help businesses prosper. We look forward to rebuilding our relationship with Starwood and hope that they reconsider their position.”

 

 

 

Westchester County Board Chairman Ken Jenkins today issued the following statement after the Westchester County Association press conference, calling for the Legislature to enact County Executive Astorino’s proposal seeking all non-union/non-represented managers within the County government to make a 15% contribution to their health care costs.  Over the past several weeks, the Board has raised reasonable questions on enacting employee health insurance contributions.  Yesterday, Chairman Jenkins announced the creation of a special committee of the Board to analyze and make recommendations on the fairest and most cost-effective way for the County to provide quality and affordable health care access to its employees at reduced costs.   Today, he vowed to continue working in partnership with his colleagues, citizens and officials in finding real tax savings for residents.

 

“My colleagues and I appreciate the continued advocacy of the Westchester County Association and look forward to their continued partnership in resolving our county’s economic issues. As we face another year of fiscal challenges, we must do everything necessary to immediately achieve optimal savings for the county’s taxpayers.  The Legislature fully supports the concept of employee contributions. However, in the search to pass off much-needed tax relief to residents, the County Board is required to act responsibly by reviewing every possible angle of such a complex issue. The taxpayers in this county want real savings, real innovation, real service improvement, and more value for their tax dollar. Now is the time to think critically about how we spend our money within county government and this Legislature takes that responsibility seriously. It’s the Board’s fiduciary responsibility to conduct the due diligence necessary to deliver real savings to our residents without exposing them to potentially damaging legal concerns.  We have a legitimate opportunity to create a comprehensive and thorough plan and it must be done expeditiously.”

 

“I’ve created this Special Committee on County Health Insurance Contributions, which will have its first meeting on Saturday morning, and they will aggressively be reviewing, analyzing and making final recommendations on the fairest and most economic way that the County can provide taxpayers long-term savings, while continuing to provide its employees with quality health care coverage.  The goal of this committee will be to have a proposal in front of the Board for a full vote by June. The time we are taking now will not impact the proposed timeline of the County Executive’s plan. It is important during these difficult economic times that we consider all viable options, including employee contribution, putting out a request for proposal for additional & less expensive health plans, pre-tax savings accounts, contribution tiers, and incentives for workers to opt out.”

 

“However, we in government can ill afford to work in a vacuum.  We’d like to ask the community to get involved and help with solutions.  The need to find sustainable tax relief is a countywide problem that will require countywide engagement.  That’s why I invite members of the WCA and others throughout the county to join us in developing new strategies on health insurance delivery in our county by visiting our website, www.westchesterlegislators.com, and send us your suggestions.   Now is the time to work together with our partners throughout the broader Westchester community to reduce costs responsibly and provide real relief to our county’s taxpayers.” 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Governor David Paterson delivered his proposed 2010-2011 budget today, and sent a clear message to all New Yokers that we must learn to do more with less.  I applaud the Governor’s efforts to reduce state spending, place a moratorium on unfunded mandates and close the budget gap.  I know this process could not have been an easy one to complete, and I thank the members of his Administration for their stellar work.

In the same breath, however, I must part ways with Governor Paterson on his beverage tax proposal.  The idea that the Governor would resurrect the soda tax, clearly indicates that we are in grave fiscal times and must find revenue to close the budget gap.  However, in a desperate attempt to find revenue, this proposal has been floated without regard for the devastating economic impact of raising more taxes on the food and beverage industry.  A soda tax will drive many of our Fortune 500 businesses throughout Westchester right out of the state and cost Westchester County thousands of jobs. I would sincerely call upon the Governor to reconsider this option.

Simply put, Governor Paterson’s soda tax proposal can result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of New York jobs, and end up costing - not saving - taxpayers millions of dollars.”