WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino kept his promise to residents when he said his goal was to have no increase in the tax levy and he didn't want to raid the state's "rainy day" fund for operational expenses.
Last week, Astorino along with six members of the bi-partisan coalition of 10 legislators held a signing ceremony of his $1.8 billion budget for 2016 that maintains those two goals.
"Nobody has a monopoly of wisdom when it comes to knowing exactly how every dollar of the budget should be spent," said Astorino. "I had priorities and the Republicans and Democrats on the board had their priorities as well. We worked out our differences and came to an agreement that protects taxpayers and preserves essential services in a way that has majority support.
"That's how the process should work. I want to thank all the members of the coalition for their support and Chairman Kaplowtiz, Vice Chairman Maisano, Republican Leader Testa and Budget Chair Marcotte for their leadership."
Kaplowitz said the flexibility of the administration was key to building a coalition, particularly the willingness to address funding for not-for-profit agencies and the assurance that if county property on Austin Avenue in Yonkers is sold next year, proceeds will be used to build up the county's reserves and minimize or eliminate the need to borrow for tax certioraris, the money refunded to property owners who successfully prove their tax bills were too high.
The formal vote, scheduled for today, Monday, Dec. 21, will be Astorino's sixth consecutive budget without an increase in the tax levy. Areas of compromise in the coalition budget include headcount restorations and not-for-profit funding adjustments.
Highlights from the coalition budget include:
- Tax Levy: $548 million – no increase from 2015
- Spending: $1.8 billion – flat to 2015
- Safety Net: $595 million – no decrease from 2015
- Unrestricted Reserves (Rainy Day Fund): $140 million – no decrease from 2015
- Headcount: 4,160 total general fund position count – four layoffs and 64 vacancy eliminations
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