Dems Call GOP Vote On Westchester Budget A 'Circus'

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The budget process is not over, according to Kenneth Jenkins (D- Yonkers), chair of the Westchester County Board of Legislators.

During a special meeting Friday to vote on the $1.7 billion county budget for 2013, Legislator Judy Myers (D-Larchmont) moved to recommit the budget (back to the Budget and Appropriations Committee, which she chairs). Jenkins then adjourned the meeting.

As all but two Democrats had left the chambers, Minority Leader Jim Maisano (R-New Rochelle) claimed Jenkins did not adjourn the meeting properly by voting on it. Believing the meeting was still in session, the seven Republicans and two Democrats who had earlier formed a “bi-partisan coalition” to draft a new budget continued the meeting.

Thomas Staudter, spokesperson for the Democratic legislators, said the meeting was adjourned properly.

Maisano later said Myers did not have the authority to recommit the budget because the board had voted unanimously to suspend certain procedural rules.  Staudter said she did retain that authority and that Democratic legislators would not have agreed to suspend those rules if it meant Myers would lose that authority as chair of the Budget and Appropriations Committee.

Republicans then formed a quorum, the minimum amount of legislators needed to conduct a meeting. After voting to appoint a new county clerk and Maisano as the new chair of the Board of Legislators, the remaining nine legislators voted to adopt the “bi-partisan” budget they drafted as the 2013 Westchester County budget.

Jenkins called their actions "a circus" and said the board still needs to enact a 2013 budget legally.

“The sooner we get back to business on this budget, the better,” Jenkins said in a statement.

The Democratic caucus will meet Monday afternoon to talk about how to move forward with the budget and avoid legal action.

The Republican’s version of the budget would keep the tax levy flat and restore 26 of 126 jobs cut in County Executive Robert Astorino’s proposed budget. It would also lower the parent share of subsidized childcare from 35 percent in the proposed budget to 27 percent.

Astorino signed the “bi-partisan coalition’s” budget Friday afternoon.

“County Executive Astorino has demonstrated that he will not follow the laws of Westchester, and legislators are naïve, as it will take three months before the rate can be changed to a twenty-seven percent family share,” Jenkins said.

Democrats proposed keeping the parent share at the current 20 percent.

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