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Astorino Unveils $1.6B Westchester Budget Plan; 210 Layoffs Proposed

Spending cuts would hit parks and other services.

Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino today unveilled a $1.689 billion 2012 budget proposal that will layoff 210 county workers, make various cuts to parks and other services and maintain a zero increase in the tax levy.

But the numbers alone don’t tell the full story of the economic landscape for next year’s budget and the Astorino’s press conference was just one step in active and contentious process.

“This is obviously my second budget and it follows the same principals that I used to govern and we used for our first budget and that is to provide tax relief for essential services as well as for providing economic growth,” Astorino said.

Although the tax levy would remain the same at $548 million, Astorino’s proposal represents a budget-to-budget decrease of $100 million.

Some of the cuts in the proposal include:

  • Layoffs of 210 employees and 367 total job eliminations.
  • The county Health Department’s budget would decrease 3 percent to $160 million. This means the county would end its contracts with the Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Center, Hudson River Healthcare in Peekskill, and the Open Door Family Medical Center in Port Chester for a savings of $1.9 million.
  • The budget would also eliminate the county’s funding for the Cornell Cooperative Extension, which amounts to $990,000, and reduce ArtsWestchester Grant by $750,000, or 50 percent.

The County Board of Westchester has until Dec. 27 to approve a final budget for 2012. 

Donna November 16, 2011 at 02:29 PM
I don't know why people are sooooooo afraid to talk about the school taxes..you're right in that our tax bill is 50 percent school taxes. Although paying the county tax bill is painful when you feel that you get nothing out of it (I'm talking about the middle class not on any entitlement programs), paying school taxes chokes you.
Francis T McVetty November 16, 2011 at 02:31 PM
The longest jounnrey starts with just a single step.
Francis T McVetty November 16, 2011 at 02:33 PM
Yeah Paul, let the county legislators control it, like they control the budget. You see where that got us.
Blue November 16, 2011 at 02:39 PM
I can tell you they feel the pain of paying a percentage of their health care unlike a lot of county workers. Some social programs are "need" to have and some are "nice" to have and thats the bottom line. When things are good these programs can be maintained and expanded but right now they have to be cut
Bob Zahm November 16, 2011 at 03:07 PM
Extremly glad to see that there are cuts. Should there be more? Yes. But this is again a starting point. Surprising to see vested interests complaining about the areas targeted in the proposal? Absolutely not, but instead of saying "It's not fair.", etc., I would challenge the posters to make specific suggestions for alternative cuts that provide equivalent reductions.
Blue November 16, 2011 at 03:10 PM
Greenburgh school taxes are insane. Get your house in order first Paul.
Billy L November 16, 2011 at 04:28 PM
The best of both worlds! Lower taxes, less spending and most importantly Playland will be open next year. Sorry, but that's my signature issue. Playland is a beautiful National Historic Landmark that is part of the fabric of who we are here in Westchester County. It's also a place, if run properly would not be a drain to the taxpayers. It's a great park that people on all socio-economic levels go to and enjoy.
Steve Wilder November 16, 2011 at 05:04 PM
"if run properly would not be a drain to the taxpayers"? If run privately, it would absolutely not be a drain to taxpayers. "It's a great park that people on all socio-economic levels go to and enjoy." And you think that it is low-cost because the govt runs it? That the govt is more efficient at running things than private owners? In what branch of govt is that true? Or is it cheap because I have a gun to my head and am forced to pay for others' entertainment? On what moral grounds do you agree with that?
Billy L November 16, 2011 at 05:11 PM
You missed me totally...I am in favor of privatizing it. the government is NOT running it properly...that's the point. They have failed to properly maintain it and they have run it into the ground.
Nelson S. Davis November 16, 2011 at 05:12 PM
Aintthatascam - you sound like s shill for the power elite/investment class. A lot of money is spent to house, educate, provide healthcare, foodstamps, section 8, and so on, to US citizens - how about providing documentation to back your comments (and please don't point us to FOX or any right wing/neo conservative outlets that are tools of the power elite/investment class). Sounds like in your world, we'd live in a "pay as you go society". If you can't pay for it, you don't get it, ie, healthcare, legal, housing, food, etc. But that's okay. You are probably middle class and have been "turned" to think that none of the problems in this nation are caused by the hugh unequal distribution of wealth, but by all the "illegals" and millions of phantom folks on welfare. Tell me, what are your sources of news and what were the last 5 books you read? Gee, it's time to stop writing, and go down to the range, fire a few rounds from my Yugo SKS and Saiga AK47, then come home, read some stories from "Raw Story.com", and "the American Conservative", make sure my membership to the NRA and ACLU is paid up and take a map.
Nelson S. Davis November 16, 2011 at 05:13 PM
Here, here! Paul, good points.
Billy L November 16, 2011 at 05:14 PM
The point I have always tried to make is that closing the park is not the answer. The majority of Playland's "loss" is interest on debt servicing...something every park has but only Playland's gets talked about. Even though it is said that Playland loses $4.5 million annually, if Playland closed tomorrow it would still cost the county $3.5 million annually for interest on money they borrow to fix the park, parts of which were neglected for 50 years or more. People who say sell it know nothing about how the laws work concerning dedicated parkland. It's just not something that is possible or likely right now, with all the legislative hurdles that would have to be gone through. By and large, regardless of your politics, most people in Westchester love Playland and have many decades of fond memories there that they want to continue.
Nelson S. Davis November 16, 2011 at 05:15 PM
You got it Steve. Cut everything that affects the middle and lower classes. touch nothing that will affect the power elite/investment class, nor their ability to hand out patronage to maintain their power base.
Nelson S. Davis November 16, 2011 at 05:17 PM
"............if run properly". There you go. For how many decades has this park been used to enrich the politically connected? The county should get out of the amuzement part biz. Better yet, someone ought to inspect the books going back 50 years and account for where all the money has gone. Anyway, the entire state seems corrupt. Just look at the MTA.
Steve Wilder November 16, 2011 at 05:30 PM
Nelson, I am the lower/middle class. And yes, I want to cut the programs in which bureaucrats get $200-500,000 salaries to run something horribly when it be run much better and cheaply in the private sector. For example, my enormous school taxes do not exist for the benefit for the underprivileged children in my town, but for the benefit of the army of overpaid administrators and teachers. This is true for EVERY branch of govt, not just the schools. It still amazes me that there are people in the public who still cannot shake that fallacy.
Howard Deixler November 16, 2011 at 05:53 PM
Please put on your seat belts as we plummet down this roller coaster. When times are tough is that a good time to erode your primary asset? If I let my house go to ruin does that increase its value? Depreciating the quality of life here in Westchester will effect us all. Property values will decline (and along with that, tax revenues) and the steady erosion of services will cause people to turn elsewhere to raise their families - even more so if we next turn our attention to cutting school funding. How absurd that I cannot take a walk on Playland Beach. I'm sure that Mr Astorino could if he so desired. How is it a good plan to allow our parks, which have taken years - or even decades- to cultivate, to become spoiled and open to abuse? What a shortsighted, wasteful policy. Also, please realize that there will now be 210 more families with an out of work breadwinner. They will be collecting unemployment (don't forget our abysmal job market) and availing themselves of services which we all pay for. I just can't get behind the idea of throwing people out of a job as a positive thing for us.
Billy L November 16, 2011 at 06:04 PM
You obviously do not know anything about Playland. The park has been languishing for years. Infrastructure has been neglected since the 1970's and 2 new rides have been added in the last 8 years. Being someone who has studied the history of Playland, as well as it's finances for the last ten years I can tell you that progress has been made but the park is still a long way from where it needs to be. The park has NOT been cultivated, but rather its been on a decline, which can be seen in attendance, revenue as well as the overall condition of the park. Kudos to Andy Spano for pushing through the rennovation of the Ice Casino, the boathouse, the bathhouse and the music tower. All of the above mentioned structures have not had any renovations done to them since the 50's. You cannot expect seaside structures to not need any maintenace for that long of a time period. It took a piece of wood flying off the Dragon Coaster in 2005 before the county got serious about painting it.
joe November 16, 2011 at 06:34 PM
Our agacent county, Fairfield, has no county government, and they get along just fine.
Betsy Shaw Weiner November 16, 2011 at 08:45 PM
Fairfield is in Connecticut. Different state, completely different organization of local and municipal governments under its state constitution.
Blue November 16, 2011 at 08:54 PM
People are already turning elsewhere.To Fairfield County and our business' are going with them. People are right now right here saying enough!! Taxes are too high and the asset is still eroding! Gov is too large and it grows itself to maintain itself. The county police should be downsizing and not taking over the duties of smaller towns to expand itself out of self preservation. How are bloated pensions and benefits for county workers making my life better ? If 250 people have to lose their job to wake people up than I am deeply sorry but thousands had to lose their jobs for the auto unions to wake up and see its not sustainable. Why does Greenburgh, the state AND the county all need nature centers and parks. Its too many layers How does playland make my life better if my taxes make up for its losses and I STILL pay to get it?( nevermind the lack of safety which is why I dont go) I am willing to help pay for those who cannot fully afford but now we are subsidizing on the Federal , State and County level. Not to mention when I lived in Greenburgh. Something somewhere has to give.
Blue November 16, 2011 at 08:57 PM
Exactly Joe. Love to know how that magically works?
Bob Zahm November 16, 2011 at 08:58 PM
@Davis - If the park has "enriched" anyone, it has the day laborers who journey "up" from Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, etc. to work in the park.
Billy L November 16, 2011 at 09:14 PM
@Blue what lack of safety at Playland? No one has EVER been injured at Playland as a result of the poor ride safety maintenance or malfunction. The safety of the rides has never been an issue. Sure, people do get killed or hurt when they do not follow the rules and do stupid things (e.g. taking your seatbelt off on the Mind Scrambler or getting out of a boat inside the Old Mill) but the safety of the park has never had an issues and all the independent reports echoed the same. In 2010 Playland cost east WC household $12 to operate for the year. Taxes are high and I HATE it...I am in favor of lower taxes. Closing Playland would save you less than $3 per household. If that's breaking your bank you should not be living in Westchester at all.
Bill November 16, 2011 at 09:14 PM
Blue, I did not realize that the town supervisor had control over school taxes (other than billing them).
tom murphy November 17, 2011 at 01:48 AM
I don't often agree with Supervisor Feiner but on this occasion he hits the mark. If you want to really control spending and cut costs follow the money...the campaign money that is. Campaign contributors should be barred from bidding on county work or campaigns should be barred from accepting or soliciting contributions from contractors. The pay to play that both parties exhibit is shameful. Also allowing both the Democratic and Republican party chairs to be Commissioners of the Board of Elections is a complete joke. Putting these two party hacks as the chief election officials and the arbiters of fair elections is a sham. Is it any wonder that the last two elections have been ineptly run? Nothing will ever really change until the tolerated curruption of contractor campaign contributions and crony appointments is recognized and rebelled against by the voters. Until then the faces will change but the game will remain the same.
Ross Revira November 17, 2011 at 03:42 AM
Paul, before you look at corruption at the county level start with cleaning up Greenburgh's own mess. How much has the court lost $1,000,000? The judges were the primary reason but YOU could have stopped it by cutting their budget. You did not.
Stuy Guy November 17, 2011 at 05:04 AM
Conservative Ideology above all else. If Astorino cut the supply of oxygen to residents, the conservatives would salute him. Anything to advance the anti-government ideology.
Blue November 17, 2011 at 11:56 AM
Ar, Why do you have to end a perfectly legitimate statement with a sarcastic remark? What the reports say and my impression of the people running those rides over the years are different. I saw lack of care everwhere when I used to go nevermind the packs of teens left unchecked. Now to your sarcastic point. How is $3 per household no big deal for Playland but according to Dem. Greenburgh "For Greenberg, raising child-care fees on the working poor even just a few dollars a day could double that cost and force families to utilize other social programs like welfare". How is this possible? Are we all not a bottomless pit of tax money? Apparently every household in the county cannot afford the $3 so your rationalization doesn't hold up. See below my comment on subsidizing everything. I don't use either but I'd rather subsidize child care. If Playland can't sustain itself or be profitable entity ( like county golf) it should be leased out or sold off. IMHO
Billy L November 17, 2011 at 01:14 PM
I hate to have to break it to you but the golf courses are NOT profitable. The reason being is that when the golf course fairways were renovated the county bonded (borrowed money) and STILL pays interest on that debt according to the budget books. But these interest payments are paid for by the park dept general fund whereas Playland's debt servicing is picked up by the park's bottom line itself. EVERY county owned park, golf course, pool, etc...LOSES money. You speak of child care services to the poor. That's not my issue. The county built Playland in 1928 and has owned it since. We can do better to run it, for example the right private company that will restore it and add attractions. Child care services is in my humble opinion FARTHER outside the scope of county government than Playland is. You'll never get me to change my opinion on that.
Francis T McVetty November 17, 2011 at 01:26 PM
Stuy Guy, it is NOT anti-government, it is TOO big government!!! The only oxygen cut off that has happened is to the Weschester county legislators .You can see what a lack of oxygen can do to someone and their decision making.

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