Westchester County Executive George Latimer Cuts County Property Tax Levy By $7,000,000
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WHITE PLAINS, NY – November 9, 2021 — Westchester County Executive George Latimer has released his 2022 proposed Operating Budget announcing a $7 million dollar cut to the County property tax levy. This is the third County property tax cut in a row for Latimer, and the largest cut in over a decade.
Latimer said: “This budget is about you, the Westchester County resident, and your finances. This is the largest tax cut in recent memory. I am proud of this budget and proud that through smart and innovative budgeting, we have been able to cut taxes responsibly again, find new revenue sources, save and provide needed services to County residents. We are committed to doing right by the people of Westchester County – and that is exactly what we have done.”
Latimer’s 2022 Proposed County Operating Budget totals $2.2 billion all while restoring fiscal stability. The County is closing 2021 with a $64 million operating surplus.
Latimer said: “My 2022 Proposed County Operating Budget funds necessary and critical programs all while cutting real property taxes for the third year in a row. There are no financial gimmicks, no one-shots, no borrowings for operating expenditures, and no use of reserves of any kind in my proposal. Additionally, my 2022 proposal doesn’t require any short term cash flow borrowing, a first since 2009.”
2022 NON-TRADITIONAL REVENUES AND SAVINGS MEASURES
· Demand Response Contract –$200k per year
· Airbnb –$300k per year
· 2020 Voluntary Separation Incentive –$11.4 million of savings in 2021
The Latimer Administration has made significant progress toward improving the County’s Credit Ratings while continuing to invest in our infrastructure. Fitch Ratings recently removed the negative outlook (current rating AA+ Stable) on the County’s general obligation bonds, citing the County’s strong underlying revenue growth potential and significant ability to implement policy decisions that would close budget gaps and maintain very high financial resilience. Further, it was stated that the revision from negative to stable reflects their expectations that the County will maintain its improved financial resilience over time based on recent operating results that have bolstered general fund reserves.
THE $2.2 BILLION DOLLAR PROPOSED OPERATING BUDGET MAINTAINS ALL COUNTY SERVICES AND INCLUDES:
JOBS AND BUSINESS
• Economic Development – $25 million
• NFP & Religious Institution Grants & Tech. Assist. – $17 million
• Workforce Training – $3 million
• Tourism & Hospitality – $3 million
• Entrepreneurship – $2 million
Additionally, under the 2022 proposed Capital Budget, over 2,000 permanent jobs will continue to be supported by the County. Latimer said none of these strides would be possible without our partners in the construction industry.
Director of Economic Development Bridget Gibbons said: “Thank you to County Executive Latimer for allocating funds and making economic development a priority in the proposed 2022 budget. These funds will help build and retain a skilled workforce, continue to support the investment in our entrepreneurship programs, and assist in pursuing creative and innovative ideas to help the County grow. We are committed to reaching out to everyone in the community, regardless of socioeconomic status, so they too, can thrive.”
• Project Alliance – $6.4 million
Department of Community Mental Health Commissioner Michael Orth said: “For nearly 20 years, the Department of Community Mental Health has partnered with law enforcement around
Westchester to help address behavioral health emergencies when they arise. Through the foresight of County Executive Latimer, and the collaboration of our department and colleague departments,
as well as our various partners in the community, Project Alliance will create a first-of-its-kind seamless system of crisis response. Through Project Alliance, our community members, law enforcement, personnel and service providers will become safer and better connected.”
The Department of Public Safety total budget is $52.8 million – the largest in County history. The proposed budget will add eight Spanish-speaking patrol officers, a result of the County administering a police officer exam for Spanish speaking officers in March 2021.
County Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Gleason said: “This budget reflects the priorities of an administration that prioritizes public safety. It fully funds our County Police with the 15 vacancies filled – some of which are Spanish speaking. This budget also solidifies the game changing ‘Project Alliance’ – a direct recommendation of the Police Reform and Reimagining Task Force – that provides a vital mental health component to the tools we use to protect the public each day.”
The proposed budget funds the County’s ever-popular Household Recycling Day. Four HRD days are planned for 2022. Pre-COVID, DEF hosted two HRD events and residents delivered nearly 275,000 pounds of household waste, and approximately 37,000 pounds of documents for shredding. The upcoming HRD Event in Rye on Saturday, November 13 is the fourth event of 2021.
Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Facilities Vinny Kopicki said: “Under County Executive George Latimer’s leadership, we are looking forward to continuing our successful Household Recycling Days next year, while also working to modernize and strengthen all of our facilities, finding needed energy efficiencies for our shared future.”
Additionally, major improvements are planned for the Mamaroneck and Yonkers wastewater recovery facilities in 2022. $37.5 million is included for Mamaroneck for a variety of improvements including nitrogen and phosphorus removal to protect the Long Island Sound, emergency power systems and odor control. At Yonkers, $22.6 million is included primarily for additional odor control measures and the completion of the methane recapture project that will allow the facility to generate approximately 70 percent of its energy needs.
ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION / TRANSPORTATION
Long committed to environmental conservation efforts, the County Executive has earmarked:
· $31.9 million in appropriations for the purchase of electric hybrid buses for the County’s Bee-Line Bus System;
· $4.3 million to begin the process of electrifying the County’s two bus garages;
· $1 million for the installation of EV charging stations at County facilities; and
· $1.1 million for improvements at Hilltop Hanover Environmental Center.
• Healthcare Equity & Access – $6 million
• FQHC Support – $4M
• Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby Program – $1M
• Telehealth Program – $1M
• Six additional positions: epidemiologists, biostatisticians and medical data analysts – $550k
Commissioner of Health Dr. Sherlita Amler said: “I want to thank County Executive George Latimer for continuing to put the health and safety of Westchester County’s residents at the forefront. Improving public health takes creativity, commitment and collaboration, and our County Executive has proven his dedication to ensuring all of our residents have fair and equitable access to healthcare. With this additional funding in the budget, we can continue to fulfill the Health Department’s mission of promoting and protecting public health in Westchester.”
• Childcare Subsidy Expansion – $5.6 million
Director of Policy and Programs, Childcare/Education Rosie Finizio said: “We know Westchester County has not forgotten childcare and we thank County Executive George Latimer for turning his attention to this vital issue. It is critical for working families to feel assured their children are taken care of, while they continue to help sustain our workforce here in the County. Our children are the future generation and focusing on their care and giving parents peace of mind, allows them to continue to be successful.”
• Small Landlord Rehab – $1M
Westchester County Commissioner of Planning Norma Drummond said: “Creating a pool of assistance to help our small landlords with housing rehabilitation is essential and will help the County leverage other state and federal resources that address issues like lead-based paint and accessibility needs.”
Additionally, as in prior years, affordable housing is once again a top priority with a combined $50 million included in the Capital Budget for land acquisition and infrastructure improvements to support the development of affordable housing within the County. If approved by the County Board of Legislators, the 2022 Capital Budget would represent the largest single year commitment to affordable housing in County history.
• Volunteer Firefighter & EMT Training Reimbursement – $500k
Department of Emergency Services Commissioner Richard Wishnie said: “County Executive Latimer is providing a tremendous opportunity to address a growing crisis among the emergency responder community– a lack of volunteers. These funds will offer incentives for individuals to volunteer in the EMS/fire community by volunteering for a set period of time, while getting tuition assistance to attend college.”
• Youth Upliftment – $500k
Executive Director of the Westchester County Youth Bureau DaMia Harris-Madden said: “The Youth Upliftment Initiative was carefully curated with the aim to empower and challenge children and youth to develop agency and realize the future they deserve. The cross-system collaboration between the Youth Bureau, Parks, and the Department of Social Services will yield a relevant, inclusive, responsive and sustainable framework that will guide programming for children ages 9-12. Research suggests that the earlier the intervention the better, and we are grateful for the administration’s support to seed novel programming that may change the trajectory for children who have promise, but need real connection to all the opportunities that exist within our County.”
· Telehealth Intervention Program – $1million
Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services Mae Carpenter said: “Westchester County’s TIPS program – or Telehealth Intervention Program for Seniors – is a vital program that encourages our seniors to stay on top of their health vitals. We have an aging population here in Westchester, and because of the pandemic, we are experiencing a shortage of home healthcare workers. Our TIPS program is an early warning program that allows us to save lives, and helps our seniors get out in front of what is going on with their health. We are grateful that we can continue this crucial program here in Westchester.”
· Hilltop Hanover Farm for staff and educational programs – $300k
Westchester County Parks Commissioner Kathleen O’Connor said: “Coming out of the pandemic, the Westchester County Parks Department has truly become naturally essential. We look forward to working with the Latimer administration and this healthy 2022 budget to once again open up programming and reimagine the large scale events that we provide for residents and guests of Westchester County, while we continue to introduce the population to our 50 facilities and 18,000 acres of lush park land.”
Additionally, Westchester County Parks saw unprecedented demand during the pandemic and the County Executive has continued his commitment to improve and enhance this vital County resource. The County Executive’s proposed capital budget also includes $4 million to begin the process of re-imagining the Westchester County Center. The County Center has not had a major improvement since the 1980’s, and an examination of the entertainment space is needed especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Within the Westchester County Parks System, a combined $45 million has been allocated for structural improvements to the Ice Casino at Playland and Playland Amusement Park.
FIXING THINGS THAT ARE BROKEN
Latimer said: “I am proud to present to you my fourth budget as Executive of our great County. Over the past four years, we have accomplished so much together. We have: banned the gun show on County property; banned conversion therapy for minors; transitioned our bus fleet from all diesel to now over 50 percent hybrid; restored the Miller House; made significant progress on Memorial Field; restored Sprain Ridge Pool; reduced the backlog of capital projects by $400 million; invested in Playland Park; created a County-wide food waste recovery program; and fought the COVID-19 pandemic on both an economic and public health front. We have done all of this and more – all while cutting taxes for three years – and we will continue to fight to do what is best for the people of Westchester County.”
PROPOSED CAPITAL BUDGET
In October, the County Executive released his 2022 Proposed Capital Budget. The fourth proposed Capital Budget of his administration emphasizes investments in affordable housing, hybrid and electric vehicles, and recreational facilities such as Playland, Memorial Field, and the completion of a continuous Bronx River Pathway from New York City to Kensico Dam Plaza. The proposed Capital Budget requested $476.4 million in new appropriations on an all funds basis for 2022:
· $291.9 million for general County purposes;
- $152.4 million for the sewer and water districts;
- $4.1 million for the refuse district; and
- $28.0 million for Westchester County Airport.
SOURCE: Carolyn Fortino | Deputy Communications Director | Office of Westchester County Executive George Latimer
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About Westchester County
Westchester County, located in the heart of the historic Hudson Valley, covers 500 square miles and has a population of just over one million. Originally home to Native Americans, who were members of the Lenape tribe, it is today a rich mix of many cultures and landscapes. The County is a blend of bustling cities, quaint villages and picturesque towns as well as open spaces and a network of beautiful parks. Westchester is made up of 6 cities, 19 towns and 20 villages. Westchester County is known for top-notch public schools, and a high quality of life. The County is also an intellectual capital, boasting a highly educated workforce, competitive colleges and universities, Fortune 500 companies, world changing non-profits, and cutting-edge research centers. Westchester is led by County Executive George Latimer, who took office in January 2018 as the ninth County Executive. Using inclusion and openness as a foreground, Latimer is fighting to make Westchester a destination for all people to live, work and enjoy. Learn more about Westchester County by visiting www.westchestergov.com