Westchester County Executive George Latimer today unveiled the proposed operating budget for 2020. As previously announced by Latimer during a news conference staged on the front lawn of a house in Greenburgh, the budget includes a cut in the property tax levy. Latimer did not disclose the size of the tax cut during his initial announcement. The budget details revealed today show the cut amounts to $1 million.
When originally announced, Latimer characterized the ability to include a tax cut as going beyond his pledge not to increase the property tax levy.
Latimer unveiled details of the budget during an event at the county office building in White Plains attended by county staff, members of the board of legislators, nonprofit leaders, municipal officials and the news media.
“We made a commitment to freeze county property taxes, and now we can go a bit further and cut the county’s property tax levy by $1 million,” Latimer said. “This budget is about the people who live in Westchester County, it is about giving them some property tax relief, and at the same time working to make their county the best it can be – by providing services and programs taxpayers rely on while placing the county back onto solid financial ground.”
Latimer said that the increase in the county sales tax in some communities, which has been shared with local governments, helped make possible the reduction in the property tax levy.
The 2020 budget does not include borrowing to meet operating expenses. All ongoing expenses, including pension obligations and tax certioraris, will be paid through the operating budget.
The budget provides $1.5 million in spending for new housing and community development initiatives. It includes $1 million in new economic development spending for workforce development initiatives and a new economic development plan.
An additional $400,000 is included for new environmental initiatives including storm water gauges and Planting Westchester, a program that will plant trees, greenery and add community gardens for food security and carbon sequestration.
The budget includes $150,000 to help the county make sure the 2020 census is fair and accurate.
Playland’s marketing budget is being increased by $250,000, bringing the total to $1.2 million in 2020.
Nonprofit organizations are to receive a total of 3% more in county funding.
The budget avoids so-called one-shots such as selling assets in order to make ends meet.
The budget received nods of approval from both the Westchester County Association (WCA) and The Business Council of Westchester (BCW). William M. Mooney Jr., president and CEO of the WCA, said, “The strongest message a leader can give is what they put in their budget. County Executive Latimer, in his 2020 budget, has shown the business community that he is focused on business by including a property tax cut, eliminating borrowing for ongoing operating expenses and replenishing the county’s reserve funds.”
Marsha Gordon, president and CEO of the BCW, said, “The county’s investments in economic development translates into job growth, new business stimulation and support, and solid investment in industry clusters that are thriving. This public-private partnership will create exciting and productive new economic opportunities, as these investments in small businesses in high demand sectors result in business growth, job growth and careers which support Westchester’s families.”
The budget has been handed off to the board of legislators, which has until Dec. 27 to adopt a budget as required by the county’s charter.