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County legislators recommit budget

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The Board of Legislators decided not to vote on the 2013 budget today, recommitting the budget back into the Budgets and Appropriation Committee.

The Democrat-controlled legislator had harshly criticized County Executive Rob Astorino’s (D-Mt. Pleasant) budget, which does not increase property taxes and lays off 126 employees. Astorino’s budget also calls for bonding to pay off tax certiorari settlements. The budget also calls for cuts to child care subsidies and health facilities.

Legislators must approve a budget by Dec. 27, or the county’s spending plan will reflect the 2012 budget ,which also did not carry a tax increase.

“The county executive’s budget was completely unacceptable,” Legislator Peter Harckham (D-Katonah) said. “We want more study and more negotiating.”

To pay off the tax certioraris, the Democrats had called for using $13 million in fund balance, which has drawn criticism from Astorino and two business groups, The Business Council of Westchester and the Westchester County Association, who fear that it will impact the county’s AAA bond rating from Moody’s.

“Nothing jeopardizes our AAA bond rating more than borrowing for expenses,” Harckham said. “If you have money in savings, you don’t put it on a credit card.”

Harckham said that auditors look for fund balances to be five percent of the budget, and that the county’s reserves would be at seven percent. Harckham said he had no clue when the legislators might vote on a budget.

“The ball is back in Astorino’s court,” Harckham said.

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