Board of Legislators Bids to Increase Social Spending

WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. From the Westchester County Board of Legislators, December 3, 2013:

The Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL), nearing the end of its review of County Executive Robert P. Astorino’s Proposed 2014 County Budget, formally approved Monday a $2.5 million increase of funding support for the Title XX child care program, as well as the restoration of two professional positions, as additions to the final spending plan.

The BOL approval was made during a meeting of the Budget & Appropriations Committee, chaired by Legislator Judy Myers (D-Larchmont). The total spending increase would be paid for through expected revenue from a forthcoming operations deal at Playland, offset savings found in another child care program and a reduction in staff spending already proposed in the budget.

“It’s important that the 2014 County Budget provide a crucial umbrella of protection for the lives of Westchester residents and our natural resources,” said BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers). “We have focused on balancing the needs of our residents and making decisions that are fiscally responsible in these budget additions. I’m confident that they’ll be part of the final budget negotiations with the Administration.”

Enrollment in the Title XX child care program has been frozen since 2010. The BOL’s spending addition will increase program enrollment to approximately 400 slots, which many residents and child care advocates stated at the last two public budget hearings as being necessary to meet community needs.

“This is simply a matter of the Board responding to the concerns we’ve heard at the budget hearings over the past few years,” said Myers.

The two professional positions the BOL is seeking to restore are the Director of Water Agency and Environmental Project Director, both of which are involved with the County’s responsibility in complying with Federal law requiring the maintenance of a safe public drinking water system.

“These two staff members have a great deal of experience and institutional knowledge,” said BOL Majority Leader Pete Harckham (D-North Salem). “Right now, the County is in a sensitive situation regarding environmental protection, and letting these two veteran professionals go at this point seems like a bad idea.”

Two groups of additions are being made for the sake of greater budget transparency. First, a number of Department of Social Services staff positions are being moved out of trust accounts and into the operating budget. (These are positions are fully paid for by Medicaid administration and have no affect on the tax levy.) Second, program funding is being broken out of the Community Based Initiative line in the Proposed Budget’s Miscellaneous budget and placed in the proper Department budgets.

The BOL Budget & Appropriations Committee will consider deletions to the Proposed 2014 Budget on Friday, December 6. A special meeting of the BOL will be held on Monday, December 9 at 10:30 AM in the BOL Chambers to consider an Act adopting the 2014 County Budget.



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