County Legislators Democratic Caucus Calls for 30% Tax Increase “Over Time” to Cover a $120 – $155 Million Increase in Spending to Fix Gaps in Astorino Budget. Rejects Airport Deal. Calls for Increased Wages, Increased Spending for Social Services, Infrastructure.

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 WPCNR WESTCHESTER COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. From the Westchester County Board of Legislators Democratic Caucus. (Edited) November 29, 2017:

After a thorough review of the Astorino Administration’s proposed 2018 Operating Budget, Westchester Democrats have discovered a potential budget gap in the range of roughly $120M-$155M. A gap of this size will take time to fix – with the fiscal impact being an Astorino tax increase of nearly 30%.

(WPCNR Editor’s Note: if the legislature decides to raise property taxes in the county the full 30%  they say is needed, the White Plains median priced home assessed at $650,000 value  which paid  $2,400 to the County in property taxes in 2017, would find the county property tax to that White Plains going up about $700 to over $3,000. If the tax increase is spread out over several years it would be less. It should be noted that the  Democrat controlled County Legislature passed all of Mr. Astorino’s budgets the last eight years.)

“The current administration didn’t prioritize needed repairs to our roads, didn’t prioritize funding vital social programs like those aimed to combat domestic violence and child abuse, and has used years of accounting gimmicks to support a budget ideology at the expense of taxpayers,” said Majority Leader Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining). “This year, there are no more rabbits to pull out of the hat – this legislature must roll up our sleeves and get to work for the people who sent us here.”

“A large portion of this enormous gap is due to the Astorino Administration’s insistence of balancing this budget on the backs of Westchester’s workers,” said Majority Whip Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh). “It’s likely that any contract settlements with our unions will include retroactive back pay. The proposed 2018 budget, as it stands, makes no attempt to allocate funds for this huge necessary expense.”

“County policy states that our budget must maintain a fund balance of not less than 6% of net operating expenditures,” said Legislator Ben Boykin (D-White Plains), Vice-Chair, Committee on Budget & Appropriations. “This proposed budget puts us at 7.85% – which is just too close for comfort. This is exactly why the State Comptroller ranked us 53 out of 57 when it comes to fiscally stressed counties.”

“Before we even account for the cuts to needed staff or funding for community based organizations that make up for the vital services that County departments once did, this budget begins with a $30M hole due to the inclusion of an irresponsible airport deal that voters have rejected and under the best situation is impossible to have fully approved in time for inclusion,” said Legislator Catherine Parker (D-Rye). “The same deal we put a bi-partisan stop to when it was only $15M of fictional revenue.”

“The nearly $155M budget hole is evident when considering the many unfunded vital programs and services in the proposed budget as well as the speculative revenue projections. The elimination of programs and services like parks curators and child care funding diminishes the quality of life for families in Westchester County” said Legislator Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon). “Westchester families rely on these vital programs and it’s the County’s responsibility to provide them.”

“We have a massive backlog of capital projects in our County – our roads and bridges are crumbling,” said Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson). “This is, in part, due to the reckless depletion of our Department of Public Works, a depletion that continues under this budget with cuts to 12 engineer positions. This is just blatant irresponsible government at its worst.”

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