WPCNR CAMPAIGN 2015. From the Westchester County Board of Legislators (Edited) September 8, 2015:
Westchester Voters will be asked to decide by referendum whether the County Budget proposal should be presented October 15, instead of November 15, as it is required currently The effect forces the County Executive to give details on his capital budget before election day for voters to determine the administration true budget policy.
Tuesday, the Westchester County Board of Legislators passed just such a resolution to place a referendum item on the ballot for the 2015 general election which takes place on Tuesday, November 3, 2015.
If passed by this year’s voters, the new policy would be in effect in the November 2016 election.
The proposal to be considered by all voters in this year’s general election would amend the Laws of Westchester County, commonly referred to as the County Charter, changing the date that the County Executive is required to submit the Capital Budget to the BOL from November 15th to October 15th each year.
The deadline to submit the annual Operating Budget would be moved up from November 15th to November 10th. The purpose of the proposed changes is to provide more time for the BOL and the public to review the county budget before it is voted on.
The referendum is mandated in section 209.161 of the County Charter which states, “…that said law, which would diminish the powers of an elected official, shall not become effective until submitted at a general election and approved by a majority of votes cast on the question of the approval or disapproval of such law.”
Changing the dates that County Executive is required to submit the Capital and Operating Budgets is considered a diminution of his powers, triggering the need for a public referendum.
The proposed changes are based one of the recommendations from the Charter Revision Commission (CRC). The CRC was established in 2011 to study, review and recommend changes to the Westchester County Charter and Administrative Code.
This was only the second review of the Charter since 1937 and the first in more than 25 years. The CRC spent nearly two years on their review. The current proposal is one of 16 recommendations made by the CRC.
The proposed referendum item was reviewed in the BOL’s Budget and Appropriations Committee which is Chaired by Legislator Sheila Marcotte (R) Eastchester and in the BOL’s Legislation Committee which is Chaired by Legislator Virginia Perez, (D) Yonkers.
Legislator Marcotte said, “This recommendation from the CRC is a prudent one. Producing a sound and responsible budget is the most important job we undertake at the BOL. I favor any measure which will increase transparency for the public and provide more time to the BOL to produce the best budget possible.”
Legislator Virginia Perez said, “It is a rare occasion when we seek to change our County Laws and any such consideration must be deliberative and measured. I think it is wholly appropriate that the very document we are considering changes to, dictates that the final decision regarding these changes lies with the public. I encourage every voter to learn about this proposal and to cast an educated vote in November.”
BOL chairman Michael Kaplowitz (D) Somers, applauded the work of the CRC and the BOL committees who are reviewing and implementing the CRC’s recommendations, “At the BOL, we have been reviewing, discussing and debating the many thoughtful and smart recommendations that came from the CRC. Some deal with utilitarian issues like our budget calendar while others seek to address more esoteric and philosophical questions like ethics reform and whether Legislators should be voting on ethics waivers. All of the proposals from the CRC have merit and serve the collective effort of making our County Charter the most effective and fair document possible to guide us as lawmakers in our current times.”