Legislators Pass Bipartisan, Zero-Tax-Increase 2017 Budget

img_57387th Year In A Row Without Tax Levy Increase
Increased Public Safety With 6 Westchester County Police Positions Added
Infrastructure Initiatives to Increase With 4 Engineers Added to DPW
Title XX Subsidized Childcare Gets $1 Million Boost

On December 12th, the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) passed the $1.8 Billion 2017 Operating Budget by a vote of 10-7.  The 2017 budget is the 7th consecutive county budget that carries no tax increase.

The budget was supported by all 10 members of the bipartisan coalition of 8 Republicans and 2 Democrats.

In addition to not raising taxes, the 2017 budget contains no reductions to the county work force, in fact the budget adds 6 positions to County Police and 4 engineering positions to the Department of Public Works. 

budget-speech-2016

Minority Leader Testa speaking before budget vote.

Other than a slight reduction in funding to the Cornell Cooperative Extension, other non-profit partners kept the same level of funding as the 2016 budget.  There was an addition of $210,000 for other Community Based Organizations. 

During Budget and Appropriations Committee meetings, The BOL learned that the Title XX subsidized childcare program would not be able to accept new applicants beginning sometime in August 2017 based on current funding levels.  To ensure that low income families are able to access safe and affordable childcare while they are at work, the BOL added $1 million to the Title XX program. 

Prior to the budget vote, the BOL voted unanimously in favor of a resolution requesting the County Executive to undertake an open bidding process for a private operator at the Westchester County Airport.

Following the budget, BOL Chairman Michael Kaplowitz (D) Somers, noted how challenging the 2017 budget process was.  “I thank my Legislative colleagues and staff for their hard work and cooperation in producing this bipartisan, no-tax-increase budget.  The 2017 budget not only protects taxpayers by not raising taxes for a seventh consecutive year, it strengthens social programs that many Westchester County residents rely on as well as adding critical positions to our County police and engineering positions in the Department of Public Works to help address a major backlog of capital projects.”,  Kaplowitz said.  “We will continue to work together with the County Executive to find alternative forms of revenue and savings, in fact we will be issuing a Request for Proposals for a private partner to operate the Westchester County Airport which could unlock as much as $15 million in funds that have accrued from airport operations.”

BOL Minority Leader, Legislator John Testa (R) Peekskill, said the 2017 budget was achieved through a combination of fiscal discipline, bipartisan cooperation and finding alternative sources of funding.  “I am proud of the work that my 9 bipartisan colleagues and I have done to produce a seventh consecutive no-tax-increase budget.  My Republican colleagues and I are committed to protecting taxpayers by eliminating waste in government, constantly searching for more efficient ways to deliver services and finding alternative streams of revenue.”, Testa said.  “In addition to passing the 2017 budget today we also passed a resolution asking County Executive Astorino to issue a Request for Proposals to find a private operator the County Airport.  The County Executive proposed a very promising deal with a private operator for the airport and I am hopeful that following the bidding process we will act quickly to select a partner to help us monetize that important county asset for general county operational costs.”

BOL Vice-Chairman, Legislator Jim Maisano (R) New Rochelle, said. “This is a compromise budget that holds the line on property taxes and protects essential services.  Our County government is facing serious issues as we head into 2017 and we need to keep working together through bipartisan cooperation to ensure that our county is run in a fiscally responsible manner.”

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About Legislator John G. Testa

John G. Testa, a life-long resident of Peekskill, began his first term on the Westchester County Legislature in January 2010. Prior to his successful run for the District 1 Legislative seat, he served 3 terms as Mayor of Peekskill from January 2002 until December 2007. Before becoming mayor he also served a four-year term as a Councilman. From his first days in office Testa worked tirelessly to set the City on the path of economic stability. Peekskill flourished under this plan, increasing the city fund balance to its highest in history. During John’s tenure in office, the NY State Comptroller’s Office named Peekskill one of the most fiscally sound municipalities in the State; independent auditors proclaimed Peekskill as being in its best fiscal condition in over 30 years; and Moody’s Investor Service agreed to upgrade its bond rating, resulting in further savings. The plan he put in place was so successful that it enabled the City of Peekskill to pass three budgets in a row with a 0% tax increase. These fiscal skills will prove valuable to Testa as he works to put the brakes on what has been wildly escalating county spending and unchecked government growth. He has pledged his efforts to work to consolidate services, eliminate wasteful spending and improve efficiency. In addition to the fiscal conservatism that served Peekskill so well, Testa worked to promote the city, attracting investment, jobs and an increased tax base. Over $100 million of private investment came to Peekskill in the forms of new residential construction, retail space, and the redevelopment of historic structures. As Mayor, Testa led a successful battle to stop the unfair and unsafe plan to send sewage to the Peekskill plant from outside the sewage/water district. John’s roots are deep within the soil of Northern Westchester. His father’s family has lived here for more than a century and his mother’s family is nearing that mark. He is proud that he was born in Peekskill and has lived and worked here all his life and, with his wife Nancy raised their two children here.
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