On Wednesday, I presented my 2013 proposed budget for Westchester. Everywhere I go, whether it is at one of my town halls or informal settings as I travel around the county, people have continued to ask that I fight for tax relief. I am proud to say that, for the third year in a row, I put forward another budget that contains no tax increase.
But preparing a budget that closed an $85 million shortfall while providing tax relief and preserving essential services was not easy. There are crushing cost escalators–such as Medicaid and pensions–that the county faces automatically when the new year begins. Revenues, like sales tax and state and federal aid, once again will see little to no growth.
Facing these challenges, I made the hard choices necessary to balance the budget. My proposed budget continues to provide essential services and maintains a strong safety net for those in need.
It also contains a 4% reduction in the county workforce by eliminating 186 jobs, 126 by layoff. Sadly, these layoffs could have been avoided if the CSEA, the county’s largest union, had followed the lead of three other unions and agreed to pay for a portion of their health care costs–just like everyone else does today. Health care will cost county taxpayers $120 million next year. If union workers won’t help pay for part of their health care, then the financial reality is that we have to have fewer workers. My door remains open to the CSEA to negotiate with me toward an agreement that is fair to taxpayers and will help save jobs.
To learn more details about my 2013 proposed budget, please take a moment to watch Wednesday’s press conference - http://vimeo.com/53601042, view the presentation - http://www3.westchestergov.com/images/stories/pdfs/2013ProposedBudget.pdf or read the budget - http://www3.westchestergov.com/county-budgets in its entirety.
In the coming weeks, the Board of Legislators will be examining my budget. It is my hope that the County Board will approve a budget for next year that contains no property tax increase, protects our AAA rating by not raiding our reserve funds and preserves essential services for the people of Westchester.
As always, thank you for your support.