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Latimer Says County Faces 'Fiscal Mess' Due To $32 Million Budget Deficit

Westchester County Executive George Latimer says his administration inherited a "fiscal mess" due to $32 million operating budget deficit.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer says his administration inherited a "fiscal mess" due to $32 million operating budget deficit. Photo Credit: File photo

This story has been updated.

County Executive George Latimer said that as anticipated, Westchester's operating budget has a deficit of more than $32 million.

Latimer, a Democrat from Rye, said on Tuesday, June 26 that he inherited shaky financial conditions former County Executive Rob Astorino of Mount Pleasant.

Latimer said: "Our Administration took office on Jan. 1, 2018; we have inherited this 2017 deficit from the prior Administration, and it negatively impacts our current 2018 budget, and projections for the 2019 budget which will be in preparation beginning this summer."

William O'Reilly, a spokesman for the former county executive said, “The Astorino Administration inherited a $166 million deficit from a Democratic administration that had been massively raising county property taxes for years, with one excuse after another."

Latimer said that the Astorino Administration budgeted $15 million dollars in projected revenue tied to the expected sale of Westchester County  Airport. But the proposed airport sale was rejected by the county Board of Legislators.

The Astorino Administration also negotiated and closed contract settlements, the costs of which were not fully budgeted, with the Westchester County Police Officers Benevolent Association, Westchester County Police Officers Benevolent Association Superior Officers Unit, Westchester County Corrections Officers Benevolent Association and the Westchester County Corrections Department Superior Officers Association, according to Latimer.

"These four contracts, settled in late December 2017, failed to cover retroactive costs in 2017 and cost in the 2018 budget," Latimer said.  "This is a huge expense to the County with no provision in the 2018 Budget."

"These policies and decisions have created a fiscal mess for Westchester County," Latimer said in a news statement.

O'Reilly reacted: "Mr. Astorino never once raised the tax levy, managed the budget responsibly each year by making tough decisions, and left the Latimer Administration with a $1.2 billion revenue source (a smart public-private airport partnership that they still have time to approve). Here again we are seeing Westchester Democrats setting the table for an unnecessary tax increase that Westchester families can't afford. What's needed in county government isn't more tax hikes, it's fiscal discipline and common sense," O'Reilly said.

Latimer said that over the next 60 days, the county will develop a game plan to address the budget shortfall for 2017 and 2018.

"We will be reaching out to meet directly to the bond rating agencies to deliver a plan for addressing the elements of the current situation," Latimer said and will speak with Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New Castle and the State Legislature "to outline the assistance we need from their authority to get us through this period."

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