June 26, 2018 -- “As anticipated, the 2017 Westchester County Financial Statements - the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), has been finalized for 2017, showing an operating deficit of $32,178,097 in the County’s general fund.

Our Administration took office on January 1, 2018; we have inherited this 2017 deficit from the prior Administration, and it negatively impacts our current 2018 budget, and projections for the 2019 budget which will be in preparation beginning this summer.  This deficit has been presumed for the last few months: the prior County Administration budgeted $15 million dollars in revenue tied to the long-term sale of the airport, a policy which was rejected in consecutive years by the Board of Legislators.  The prior County Administration negotiated and closed contract settlements, the costs of which were not fully budgeted, with the Westchester County Police Officers Benevolent Association, Westchester County Police Officers Benevolent Association Superior Officers Unit, Westchester County Corrections Officers Benevolent Association and the Westchester County Corrections Department Superior Officers Association. These four contracts, settled in late December 2017, failed to cover retroactive costs in 2017 and cost in the 2018 budget. At the same time, the prior Administration failed to come to agreement with the Civil Service Employees Association, which covers the vast majority of County employees, extending their period without a contract to seven years. This is a huge expense to the County with no provision in the 2018 Budget.  

Promises made under the past Administration included: a commitment to freezing property taxes for nearly a decade; failing to fund agreed upon labor contracts for some employees, while allowing the labor contracts for other employees to languish and a future obligation to grow exponentially: closing budget gaps with one-shot actions or proposed monetization of public assets without a public discussion or agreement upon the policy impacts of such proposals; decimating the workforce with dramatic reductions in force, placing reliance on outside consultants and contractors.

These policies and decisions have created a fiscal mess for Westchester County.

This new Administration will deal with this crisis in the way we have worked over our first six months in office: with openness and transparency; with a cooperative spirit to County Legislators and all our colleagues in State and local governments; with a willingness to make tough decisions in order to secure long-term fiscal health. 

We will be developing, over the next sixty (60) days, a game plan to address the current shortfall for 2017 and 2018, even as we plan the 2019 budget. We will be reaching out to meet directly to the bond rating agencies to deliver a plan for addressing the elements of the current situation. We will speak with the Governor and the State Legislature to outline the assistance we need from their authority to get us through this period. We will meet with the press to answer questions about where we are, how we got there, and where we go from here. The people of Westchester County need to know that we did not get into this situation overnight, and it will take time to chart us on the responsible path that will get us out of this crisis. I have faith and confidence that the people of this County will be able to discern rhetoric from reality.” 

George Latimer

Westchester County Executive