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.
- Reducing spending for parks and recreation by 5 percent, to $48 million. This means staffing would be eliminated and building will be closed at the Cranberry Lake Preserve, Croton Point Nature Center, Read Wildlife Sanctuary, Lenoir Preserve, Marshlands Conservancy and Trailside Nature Museum. Rye Playland will remain open and golf fees will increase $2, with the exception of the Hudson Hills Golf Course. Funding for ethnic festivals, concerts at Lasdon Park, the Battle of the Bands and the Fourth of July Fireworks would also be cut.
- 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.