WPCNR COUNTY-CLARION LEDGER. From the Westchester County Board of Legislators. December 6, 2022:
On Monday night, Chairwoman Catherine Borgia and the Board of Legislators announced proposed additions to the County’s FY2023 capital and operating budgets. Included in the $2.2 billion budget proposal are critical investments in areas such as childcare, mental health, and criminal justice reform.
Legislators are mandated by the County Charter to review and approve the proposed budgets submitted by the County Executive’s office no later than December 27. Before final approval, Legislators are allowed to suggest additions to the allocations by the first Monday in December, colloquially called “Adds Day”. No new items can be added to the budget after this point. Before final adoption, the Board’s Committee on Budget & Appropriations, chaired by Legislator Vedat Gashi can further review the joint proposal but only to delete items from the appropriations list.
Most notably incorporated in the BOL’s budget proposal additions are:
· Reopening of two mental health clinics previously closed by the former County Executive
· A reduction from 10% to 5% for parent share contributions for families eligible for subsidized childcare
· $500,000 for neighborhood community health centers in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds
· $750,000 in in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for Westchester Connects, a partnership with Westchester County Association to increase internet access to residents
· Funding to establish the Office of Police Accountability (OPA)
· Increases to community-based organizations to help fund services
· $350,000 of additional smoking-cessation funding for education and outreach, and to increase coordination with NYS smoking cessation programs.
The BOL weighed public recommendations on which items to add to the Executive’s proposal through a series of mini-public hearings, with a Charter-mandated public hearing at the Board’s Chamber scheduled for Wednesday, December 7, 2022. After hearing feedback from the public, the Board has firmly committed to working toward the following items for future budgetary consideration:
· Reducing Bee-Line Paratransit fees
· Zero Waste initiatives
· Access to Counsel, a legal services program for tenants fighting eviction
Chairwoman Catherine Borgia stated, “We know that for our communities to thrive, we need more funding for health care, mental health, and social services. We know that a strong investment in early education and childcare are building blocks to a great future for both children and parents. We’re prioritizing items that will set the County on a course toward equity, stability, and prosperity.” She continued, “I thank County Executive George Latimer for his collaborative leadership in developing a robust budget centered around shared values and principles.”