WHITE PLAINS, NY — Today, the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) passed the $1.8 Billion 2017 Operating Budget by a vote of 10-7. The 2017 budget is the 7th consecutive county budget that carries no tax increase.
The budget was supported by all 10 members of the bipartisan coalition of 8 Republicans and 2 Democrats.
In addition to not raising taxes, the 2017 budget contains no reductions to the county work force, in fact the budget adds 6 positions to County Police and 4 engineering positions to the Department of Public Works.
Other than a slight reduction in funding to the Cornell Cooperative Extension, other non-profit partners kept the same level of funding as the 2016 budget. There was an addition of $210,000 for other Community Based Organizations.
During Budget and Appropriations Committee meetings, The BOL learned that the Title XX subsidized childcare program would not be able to accept new applicants beginning sometime in August 2017 based on current funding levels. To ensure that low income families are able to access safe and affordable childcare while they are at work, the BOL added $1 million to the Title XX program.
Prior to the budget vote, the BOL voted unanimously in favor of a resolution requesting the County Executive to undertake an open bidding process for a private operator at the Westchester County Airport.
Following the budget, BOL Chairman Michael Kaplowitz (D) Somers, noted how challenging the 2017 budget process was. “I thank my Legislative colleagues and staff for their hard work and cooperation in producing this bipartisan, no-tax-increase budget. The 2017 budget not only protects taxpayers by not raising taxes for a seventh consecutive year, it strengthens social programs that many Westchester County residents rely on as well as adding critical positions to our County police and engineering positions in the Department of Public Works to help address a major backlog of capital projects.”, Kaplowitz said. “We will continue to work together with the County Executive to find alternative forms of revenue and savings, in fact we will be issuing a Request for Proposals for a private partner to operate the Westchester County Airport which could unlock as much as $15 million in funds that have accrued from airport operations.”
BOL Minority Leader, Legislator John Testa (R) Peekskill, said the 2017 budget was achieved through a combination of fiscal discipline, bipartisan cooperation and finding alternative sources of funding. “I am proud of the work that my 9 bipartisan colleagues and I have done to produce a seventh consecutive no-tax-increase budget. My Republican colleagues and I are committed to protecting taxpayers by eliminating waste in government, constantly searching for more efficient ways to deliver services and finding alternative streams of revenue.”, Testa said. “In addition to passing the 2017 budget today we also passed a resolution asking County Executive Astorino to issue a Request for Proposals to find a private operator the County Airport. The County Executive proposed a very promising deal with a private operator for the airport and I am hopeful that following the bidding process we will act quickly to select a partner to help us monetize that important county asset for general county operational costs.”
BOL Vice-Chairman, Legislator Jim Maisano (R) New Rochelle, said. “This is a compromise budget that holds the line on property taxes and protects essential services. Our County government is facing serious issues as we head into 2017 and we need to keep working together through bipartisan cooperation to ensure that our county is run in a fiscally responsible manner.”