2021 OPERATING, CAPTIAL & SPECIAL DISTRICT BUDGETS PASSED
Operating Budge Reduces Tax Levy & Overall Spending; Preserves & Increases Human Services
WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER From the County Board of Legislators. December 14, 2020:
On Monday, the Board of Legislators 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.
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 $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.
WPCNR Budget Note: The 2020 budget was described by County Executive George Latimer today as being a blueprint for 2020, but dependent on how much funds are cut by Governor Andrew Cuomo to balance the state deficit and depending on the passage of an aid-to-the-states package by congress in Washington. Mr. Latimer is expected to sign the budget Wednesday
The budget also balances the $80 Million shortfall in revenues experienced by the County in 2019 due to a wildly optimistic sales tax projection (a 27% increase which fell way short) diverting $80 Million in Federal Covid Aid into the County’s Fund Reserve and taking $80 million currently existing in that Fund Reserve to plug the deficit hole.
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.