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Seven Democrats Explain 'No' Votes On Westchester County Budget

Board of Legislators Majority Leader Catherine Borgia was one of seven Democrats to vote against the county budget.
Board of Legislators Majority Leader Catherine Borgia was one of seven Democrats to vote against the county budget. Photo Credit: File

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- The seven Democrats who voted against the 2015 Westchester County budget, which was approved in a bipartisan vote of 10-7 , cited structural imbalances and massive borrowing as reasons for their opposition.

The seven Democratic caucus members voting against the budget were Majority Leader Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining), Majority Whip Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon), Ben Boykin (D-White Plains), Pete Harckham (D-North Salem), Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers), Catherine Parker (D-Rye) and Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh).

Three Democrats, Board Chairman Michael Kaplowitz, (D-Somers), and MaryJane Shimsky, (D-Hastings-on-Hudson), and Virginia Perez, (D-Yonkers), joined the board's seven Republicans in passing the budget.

County Executive Rob Astorino hailed the bi-partisan $1.75 billion spending plan as smart and responsible as it includes no increase to the tax levy and no layoffs.

Democrats, however, see the spending plan differently.

“This budget actually increases taxes in the future, but with interest by pushing the added costs down the road with bonding for too many operational expenses,” Borgia said in a statement. “Fiscal gimmickry may serve the short-term, but it imperils the County’s excellent bond rating, which was downgraded last year because of too much borrowing in the budget and dipping into the fund balance.”

The Citizens Budget Advisory Committee’s (CBAC) presentation to the Bboard's Budget Committee noted that the 2015 budget's operating expenses are not fully funded by operating revenue.

More than $6 million in the restricted fund balance was being used for operating expenses as well; and cumulative borrowing to pay for ongoing operating expenses will be over $100 million, with interest costs of over $20 million, Democrats said.

“All of this borrowing will hamstring future county administrations and legislators from any flexibility in operating budgets because of onerous interest costs,” Boykin said in a statement. “I see that this will cause real problems for our safety net spending in the short-term, and it will end up costing all of our taxpayers more money when the County needs to spend more on bonding for badly needed infrastructure improvements. Plain and simple: a budget with this kind of borrowing is a huge threat to the long-term well-being of our residents and our county’s fiscal health.”

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