(WHITE PLAINS, NY) The Westchester County Board of Legislators adopted the 2016 budget today stretches Westchester County’s operations to the thinnest of all time and remains structurally unbalanced according to numerous independent opinions as a result of accounting gimmicks, one shot revenues and suspect revenue projections.  The budget most significantly relies on an aggressive assumption for sales tax revenues with a 4% growth rate. The Citizens Budget Advisory Committee (CBAC) and the County’s independent auditors stated that the sales tax revenues are too aggressive and cited that Nassau and Suffolk Counties and many of our local municipalities budget for roughly 1 – 2 % growth in sales tax revenues. CBAC recommends that the 2016 budget for sales tax be reduced by $10 to $15 million.  The Democratic Caucus had proposed an alternative that involved the proceeds from the sale of the Austin Avenue building and over $4 million in energy efficiencies that are still available.  

“While I’m happy to see that there were some service restorations, I cannot endorse a budget that spends money based on fictitious revenues,” said Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining).  “I believe that we are going to have to revisit this budget in the coming months because of the indefensible budget practices of this administration.”

Legislator Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon) stated, “By setting this budget in motion without a plan for sustainable revenues, we are placing the county in a tenuous fiscal position if unforeseen circumstances to occur in 2016.”

"This budget fails every metric of good accounting," stated Legislator Ben Boykin (D-White Plains), MBA/CPA. “While we have the appearance of a balanced operating budget with no tax increase, the 2016 budget is structurally imbalanced and will create significant financial challenges for the County and taxpayers in the future.”

Legislator Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) warned that this budget proposal could trigger another credit rating downgrade that would cost taxpayers more as it attempts to catch up on $1.3 billion backlog 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 bridge repairs.  This budget compounds those failures by relying on accounting gimmicks to fill the humongous budget deficit we are really facing.”

Legislator Catherine Parker (D-Rye) said, “Approving this budget is akin to doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.  When every independent opinion says that these budgeting practices are suspect, it is time to try a different strategy.  The budget continues to rely on revenues that we have been cautioned against using to balance the budget and yet we still continue to ignore that advice.”

Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson) explained, “This year’s budget takes back cost saving measures approved by the Board of Legislators, on a bipartisan basis, in last year’s budget—measures needed to keep our infrastructure in working order.  Of most concern to me is the large scale borrowing to fund routine, short term costs like patching our roads; and the deterioration of our infrastructure due to having insufficient engineers to advance our $1.3 billion capital project backlog.  Such moves will cost taxpayers many times more money in future years.”

Legislator Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh) stated, “I am concerned that many of our non-profits who provide critical, often mandated human services in an efficient and cost saving manner for the present and future, are not going to be funded at sustainable levels.  We have been facing this problem for several years and failed to adopt efficiencies that would help pay for these things in a responsible manner.”