County Executive Rob Astorino (R-Mount Pleasant) unveiled his $1.7 billion 2013 budget, featuring no increase on property taxes and 126 layoffs.
Astorino blamed the layoffs on the Civil Service Employees Union’s (CSEA) refusal to contribute more to its health care plan. The budget also calls for deferring $35 million of a $91 million pension bill and bonding $13 million tax certiorari payments.
“The story of this budget is not what is but what could have been,” Astorino said in a statement. “I pleaded with our largest union, the CSEA, to help avoid layoffs. Had they followed the lead of three other unions to start contributing to the cost their health care, we could have saved jobs and programs. But they refused.”
Astorino said that unfunded mandates from Albany made up 85 percent of the county’s tax levy, and called the two-percent cap on the tax levy a cruel joke.
“One state mandate – pensions – puts the county over the tax cap. The bottom line is that for every dollar the county sends to Albany, it only gets 45 cents back,” Astorino said. This kind of Albany math is crushing us.”
Social services (75 jobs), parks (22 jobs) and public works and transportation (24 jobs) are the departments suffering the most layoffs. Through attrition, 63 other positions will not be filled. Almost four percent of the county’s workforce is being reduced through the budget.
The Democrats on the Board of Legislators said they reacted with “guarded optimism and concern” over Astorino’s budget, promising to go line by line. Their chief concerns were Astorino’s plan to defer $35 million of the $91 million pension bill and bonding to pay for tax certioraris.
“Westchester County has never bonded for tax certioraris, and the practice has caused great problems for places likeNassauCounty,” Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) said. “The budget, as proposed, will be closely reviewed and prioritized to do what is right for Westchester. We’ll undoubtedly find areas of agreement and places where we’d like to see some changes.”
Editor’s note: Updated Nov. 14 at 5 p.m.