11/4/2009 10:12:45 AM



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Legislator Jenkins sponsors resolution to implement tax saving measures

11/13/2009 10:11:43 AM



In heeding the call from county residents to reduce the tax burden, Westchester County lawmakers are considering the passage of a resolution to create a business advisory committee to the Board, to assist the Board on developing policy for implementing recommendations for streamlining and consolidating county government.  This comes on the heels of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s recent local government consolidation law (signed into law in June), giving voters the legal authority to eliminate duplication of services. Cuomo’s proposal was based on the work of the Lundine Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competititiveness, which reviewed ways that the State’s over 4,200 local governments can save taxpayer dollars and become more efficient by sharing services and undertaking regional collaboration.  This resolution was introduced in September by Legislator Ken Jenkins (D, I, WF – Yonkers), Chairman of the Committee on Government Operations.  The Business Advisory Committee (“Committee”) will provide recommendations for policy changes that the County Board could enact that will enable savings to taxpayers estimated to save $1 billion dollars statewide through municipal modernization, shared services and consolidation.


The 2010 County budget will be presented by the County Executive Monday, November 16th.  Several municipal budgets have been presented with proposed tax increases that exceed increases in the cost of living.  It is essential that these tax saving measures be implemented to provide the necessary relief to all taxpayers.  Through the actions of the County Board, the tax levy’s proposed have averaged less than the CPI increases over the last 5 years.  “We do not need more studies, we need action to control spending, provide tax relief and save money,” said Legislator Jenkins.  “This Committee will be tap into the vast intellectual intelligence of Westchester’s business community to use best practices that will save taxes. “ The Committee -- as proposed-- will be similar to the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee reporting to Government Operations of the County Board.  The Committee as envisioned will include, but is not limited to members from the Westchester County Association and the Business Council of Westchester who can share best practices from the private sector.


“The formation of this Committee is another important cog in the County Board’s Charter responsibility to set policy that result in tax fairness and cost containment,” said Legislator Jenkins.  The Government Operations Committee is deliberating the resolution and plans to have the item before the full County Board before this legislative term ends.










State Senate Scheduled To Vote on Low Sulfur Heating Oil Bill At Special Session This Week

11/14/2009 11:04:26 AM



Westchester County Legislator Tom Abinanti (D- Greenburgh), is calling on the New York State Senate to pass a measure that would reduce the permissible sulfur level for home heating oil. The Senate is scheduled to consider the legislation when it convenes in a Special Session called by the Governor for Monday and Tuesday, November 16-17, 2009. The Assembly has already passed the bill.


The legislation (S. 1145-A) reduces the maximum sulfur level in No. 2 home heating oil to less than 15 parts per million. Today’s No. 2 heating oil, the most widely used, contains 2600 parts per million of sulfur. The proposed level is the same as the maximum that federal government currently allows for diesel oil in on-road vehicles across the United States.


“The legislation would greatly improve Westchester’s air quality and protect the health of the region’s residents,” said Abinanti, chair of the Westchester Legislature’s Committee on the Environment & Energy.


The current home heating oil releases dangerous pollution into the air, including ozone and fine particles called PM 2.5. Much of downstate New York, including Westchester and New York City, exceeds federal standards for PM 2.5 and for ozone. These particles are linked to increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing, difficulty breathing, decreased lung function, aggravated asthma, development of chronic bronchitis and irregular heartbeat. The increased cost of ultra-low sulfur No. 2 heating oil over today’s No. 2 heating oil is minimal.


Abinanti has proposed similar legislation for Westchester. Abinanti’s measure was the result of a yearlong, intensive review of Westchester’s air quality by the “Healthy Air Task Force” which Abinanti created in 2004 to suggest ways to reduce particulate matter and other harmful carcinogens that are polluting Westchester’s air. The Healthy Air Task Force consisted of members of Westchester’s environment and health communities.


“More and more children are suffering from asthma and other respiratory diseases,” said the Greenburgh lawmaker.  “It’s our air, we have to protect it.”











RE: Release of the County Executives FY10 Executive Budget

11/16/2009 11:55:47 AM



The County Executive has delivered to the Board of Legislators his proposed County budget for fiscal year 2010.  Considering the weak economy, more and more residents relying on County programs and services for basic needs, the reduction of sales tax and other revenue to the County, and taxpayers asking for property tax relief, this could not have been an easy budget to put together.  I appreciate his efforts and those of the Budget Department. 


The Legislature’s analysis of the County Executive’s proposed budget begins today and as we work through this process with the Administration we must look for the best opportunities to streamline, cut costs and improve the organization of our county government operation.  We must make our best effort to do more with less. 


The time has come for government to work smarter, become more efficient and less expensive.  This needs to be the objective of government at every level: federal, state, county and local, and every form: general purpose, school districts, authorities and special districts.  Westchester County government should immediately accept this challenge and be a model for other units of government to follow.  If others are reluctant, Westchester County should lead by example. 


County government should help our localities streamline and reduce costs by consolidating functions and programs, centralizing operations and delivering services regionally as needed.  If the Westchester community with all of its taxing jurisdictions is going to be in the national headlines each year, let it not be for having the highest combined property tax bill in America, but let it be for real progress and innovation in service delivery and cost containment. 


I know that property taxes are too high in Westchester.  In these tough economic times, we can’t afford to pay more taxes.  Overburdened taxpayers look at their tax bills for schools, local and county government, and plead for property tax relief.  I also know that the law requires the county to care for people most in need.  Our budget decisions cannot place an unfair burden on those who have the least and we cannot balance the budget on the backs of our working families.  We must do a better job balancing the delivery of essential services with the need to cut costs.  We look forward to working with the Administration on a budget that will preserve the core services that are critically important to many Westchester residents.


Over a year ago, the bottom fell out of the national economy with the financial and banking sector hardest hit.   Wall Street’s woes became Main Street’s problem.  Westchester County government, the administrative arm of the State for service delivery, has worked through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and we have remained financially strong and stable.  But, the financial crisis has forced all of us in government to assess our priorities.  The Board of Legislators takes seriously the importance of doing so at this critical point in time.










RE: Release of the County Executives FY10 Executive Budget

11/16/2009 12:01:00 PM



We are looking forward to a cooperative working relationship between the Legislature and the Administration. In this climate of cost saving and economic cautiousness, nothing is off the table. The County must – and will – continue to look for creative ideas for service delivery and additional savings. 


The financial crisis has forced all of us in government to assess our priorities, so that going forward we can continue to minimize the impact that cuts will have on essential services.  Through this series of oversight meetings, we are demonstrating both how serious this process is and how committed the Board of Legislators is in helping shape the important decisions that will be made over the coming weeks. 


It’s imperative that we take a responsible approach to balancing our budget.  We must make sure we protect the county’s quality of life, and ensure that we continue to move in the right direction.