Westchester County Adopts $2 Billion Budget that Cuts Taxes
http://thebcw.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/LatimerSignsBudget-scaled.jpgFor the second year in a row, Westchester County Executive George Latimer has cut the Westchester County tax levy by $1 million dollars. Latimer signed the budget flanked by nurses at the Westchester County Health Department Clinic highlighting the unprecedented year that 2020 has been, and the extraordinary work of our healthcare professionals.
Latimer kept his promise to the people of Westchester and signed the 2021 budget not only cutting taxes, but also maintaining all County services, and cutting expenditures by $15.7 million dollars in the $2.091 billion dollar budget.
“2020 has tested us like never before. We have seen things this year that I pray we never see again. However, I knew despite all the economic challenges – the last thing I could do right now is raise taxes. I know many people are hurting, and I want them to know I am fighting for them. I want to thank the people of this County for having faith in your County government,” said Latimer.
The 2021 Budget includes an additional:
• $5 million for Economic Development Programs
• $5 million for Housing Assistance Programs
• $2 million for Food Insecurity
• $1 million for Emergency Services Response / PPE
Before entering 2021, the 2020 budget year is slated to end with no layoffs, no furloughs, no service cuts and no borrowing for pension costs.
Business Council of Westchester President and CEO Dr. Marsha Gordon said: “The BCW congratulates County Executive George Latimer and the Board of Legislators on the passage of the 2021 budget. We are confident in knowing that the 2021 budget is solid and maintains essential services while protecting the County’s AAA bond rating. There are many unknowns in the future – and we stand ready to work with the County Executive and Board of Legislators as they continue to navigate the best fiscal path in these difficult times. At the same time, we must continue to convey that Westchester is economically stable and welcomes business and investment.”
Due to the Latimer Administration’s strong relationship with Westchester’s Federal Delegation in Washington, the County was able to secure direct Federal assistance under both the Families First and CARES Acts. This has allowed the County to fund the additional costs that have arisen due to the pandemic as well as maintain essential County services. However, this 2021 proposed Budget does not assume any additional extraordinary federal assistance, and anticipates a 20% reduction in Westchester County’s state aid. As a result, this Budget must rely on drawing all projected increase in 2020 reserves.
Latimer said: “At the onset of the pandemic our revenue projections were revised downward by nearly $200 million and we took immediate actions to address the financial downturn. We submitted legislation, passed by the County Board of Legislators, allowing the county to borrow for tax certioraris as well as pension payments and we amended the Budget to reverse the $10 million budgeted addition to fund balance. We implemented a voluntary separation incentive that resulted in 226 employees leaving County service effective Aug. 1. We also held vacant a large number of County positions to generate needed savings.”
For 2021, the County has projected that sales tax will grow to $695 million, which is $46 million below the 2020 Budget.
Director of Economic Development Bridget Gibbons said: “Our office is determined to assist Westchester businesses that have faced a deleterious impact from the Covid-19 pandemic. This Budget, with its $5M for expanded economic development programs, gives us the tools to tackle this immense challenge. We are grateful to the Board of Legislators and the County Executive for their support for these initiatives.”
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