Operating Budge Reduces Tax Levy & Overall Spending; Preserves & Increases Human Services
WHITE PLAINS, NY — December 14, 2020 — The Westchester County Board of Legislators today unanimously approved the 2021 operating budget for Westchester that reduces the County tax levy and lowers overall spending while preserving essential services. The Board also unanimously adopted 2021 County capital and special district budgets.
The $2.09 billion operating budget is $15.7 million lower than the 2020 budget. The budget reduces the county property tax levy by $1.0 million.
The adopted operating budget builds on the work the Board did last year, adding further support for community-based nonprofit organizations that provide cost-effective help to the County’s most vulnerable residents in dealing with hunger, domestic violence, eviction and educational support, among other areas.
In addition, during budget negotiations, the Board and County Executive Latimer reached an agreement to reduce the share of childcare costs paid by parents who are income-eligible for help from 25% to 23%. This was a top Board priority. Under the arrangement, the County will commit a portion of the childcare money it receives from the federal government to lowering the out-of-pocket cost of childcare programs to parents who qualify for the help.
On Monday, legislators also approved a capital budget for 2021 that takes advantage of historically low interest rates to invest millions in improving roads, bridges, parks, transportation, environmental facilities and recycling and sanitation programs. The County’s capital program supports 2,000 permanent jobs in Westchester.
Budget and Appropriations Chair Catherine Borgia (D – Briarcliff Manor, Cortlandt, Croton-on-Hudson, Ossining, Peekskill) said, “In a profoundly difficult budget year, I’m proud of the hard work, compromise, and ingenuity shown by the members of the Board of Legislators, County Executive George Latimer and his staff, and our County Budget Department. Working together, we responded to the economic challenges of the COVID-19 by making necessary adjustments during 2020, and now, we’ve been able to craft a budget for 2021 that cuts overall spending yet protects — and in many cases expands — essential support for working families and for our most vulnerable residents at a time when they need it most.”
Borgia added, “I’m especially happy that we’ve worked with the County Executive’s office to reduce the parents’ share of childcare costs for those who qualify for financial help. Access to affordable childcare is always crucial, but it is especially needed during the pandemic to help working families get back to jobs or hold on to them.”
Majority Leader MaryJane Shimsky (D -Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Edgemont, Hartsdale, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington) said, “The 2021 Westchester County operating budget is meant to work for all of our people — from County taxpayers to families struggling with the impacts of the pandemic. It reflects the hard work and creativity of the County Executive’s team and the County Budget Department, as well as the Board of Legislators and our team. The funding we commit in this budget — to deal with issues including hunger, housing, remote access and childcare — is a bridge to carry Westchester residents to a post-pandemic future. The capital budget we passed today is just as important to that future. The County’s capital program supports more than 2,000 jobs, and the investments we make today (with interest rates at historic lows) on roads, bridges, parks, energy efficient transportation, sanitation and recycling, will build a platform for our renewal.”
Board Chair Ben Boykin (D-White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison) said, “Building back from this once-in-a-century pandemic is going to be a multi-year process. COVID-19 left an economic crater in the budgets of every County across this nation. Those kinds of holes don’t get filled in a single budget. At the same time, people are hurting. Businesses are hurting. They are turning to us for help, and we cannot and will not fail them. The 2021 operating is tough, with a reduction in county headcount through vacancies and last year’s voluntary separation package. But it puts in the forefront the human services that residents need. We’re providing millions of additional dollars for economic development, millions more for the social safety net, millions to deal with food insecurity and housing insecurity — programs the people of this County need to weather the storm of COVID-19 and strengthen our ability to rebuild as vaccines arrive in the new year.”
The adopted budgets now go to County Executive George Latimer for his signature.
You can see the Board’s budget media event at: https://bit.ly/37jbx7s
For documents related to the 2021 budgets and budget process see the Budget Dashboard section of our website: https://www.westchesterlegislators.com/fy2021-budget-dashboard
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SOURCE: Jason Chervokas | Director of Communications | Westchester County Board of Legislators