Man signs document at podium with people wearing masks looking on

You may also go to YouTube to watch the full press conference.

The 2021 budget reduces the Westchester County tax levy by $1 million for the second year in a row. Latimer was joined by Department of Health workers who have battled to keep Westchester safe during this unprecedented pandemic.

Additionally, you may watch a video of private sector and nonprofit leaders sharing their thoughts on the 2021 budget.

For the second year in a row, Westchester County Executive George Latimer has cut the Westchester County tax levy by $1 million dollars.  Latimer signed the budget flanked by nurses at the Westchester County Health Department Clinic highlighting the unprecedented year that 2020 has been, and the extraordinary work of our healthcare professionals.

In the midst of a crippling pandemic and an economic downturn, Latimer kept his promise to the people of Westchester and signed the 2021 budget not only cutting taxes, but also maintaining all County services, and cutting expenditures by $15.7 million dollars in the $2.091 billion dollar budget.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: “2020 has tested us like never before.  We have seen things this year that I pray we never see again.  However, I knew despite all the economic challenges – the last thing I could do right now is raise taxes.  I know many people are hurting, and I want them to know I am fighting for them. I want to thank the people of this County for having faith in your County government.”

The 2021 Budget includes an additional:

  • $5 million for Economic Development Programs
  • $5 million for Housing Assistance Programs
  • $2 million for Food Insecurity
  • $1 million for Emergency Services Response / PPE

Before entering 2021, the 2020 budget year is slated to end with no layoffs, no furloughs, no service cuts and no borrowing for pension costs.

Business Council of Westchester President and CEO Dr. Marsha Gordon said: “The BCW congratulates County Executive George Latimer and the Board of Legislators on the passage of the 2021 budget. We are confident in knowing that the 2021 budget is solid and maintains essential services while protecting the County’s AAA bond rating. There are many unknowns in the future - and we stand ready to work with the County Executive and Board of Legislators as they continue to navigate the best fiscal path in these difficult times. At the same time, we must continue to convey that Westchester is economically stable and welcomes business and investment.”

Westchester County Association President and CEO Michael Romita said: “In the midst of so much uncertainty, the County has passed a responsible and thoughtful budget. The tax levy is decreased and we continue to invest in infrastructure, small businesses and the nonprofit community. The WCA stands for smart growth and a fair economy that strives to work for all. County Executive Latimer, his team and the entire County Legislature should be applauded for their work under difficult circumstances. There are no gimmicks here, just an honest appraisal of where we are and what we need to do to move forward.”

The parent portion of childcare costs has also dropped from 25 to 23 percent, Child Care Council of Westchester, Inc. Executive Director Kathy Halas said: “There will be no economic recovery without childcare. The County Executive and the Board of Legislators responded to this need by raising the subsidy reimbursement rate to help childcare businesses meet rising operating costs and reducing the parent contribution to put more money in the households of hard working, often essential, workers. Westchester County has long been a leader on child care, and the support for child care in this budget, adopted under the most challenging of conditions, is further evidence.”

Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Originations Officer and Member of Housing Opportunity Commission Lindsey Carden said: “With the loss of employment for many individuals, housing is going to be effected. To see funds set aside to assist those experiencing this is tremendous. The County is going under a change - and to see these needs being addressed by our County Executive is so important.”

Nonprofit Westchester Executive Director Jan Fisher said: “Like other businesses, our organizations have been stretched financially and in need of government investments to meet the ever-growing demands on our services. A budget reflects the values of its community - and the 2021 budget brought forth by County Executive Latimer demonstrates both the value he places on the people and communities served by the nonprofit sector and an understanding of the overwhelming needs our agencies are uniquely and expertly addressing.”

Feeding Westchester President and CEO Karen C. Erren said: “On behalf of all of us at Feeding Westchester, we say thank you to County Executive Latimer and the team at the County. For the past 9 months, you have all stood at the forefront fighting for our neighbors in need in Westchester County. We appreciate you so much for your support and focus on food insecurity and hunger relief. Together, we are Feeding Westchester.”

Due to the Latimer Administration’s strong relationship with Westchester’s Federal Delegation in Washington, the County was able to secure direct Federal assistance under both the Families First and CARES Acts. This has allowed the County to fund the additional costs that have arisen due to the pandemic as well as maintain essential County services.  However, this 2021 proposed Budget does not assume any additional extraordinary federal assistance, and anticipates a 20% reduction in Westchester County’s state aid. As a result, this Budget must rely on drawing all projected increase in 2020 reserves. 

Latimer said: “At the onset of the pandemic our revenue projections were revised downward by nearly $200 million and we took immediate actions to address the financial downturn. We submitted legislation, passed by the County Board of Legislators, allowing the county to borrow for tax certioraris as well as pension payments and we amended the Budget to reverse the $10 million budgeted addition to fund balance.  We implemented a voluntary separation incentive that resulted in 226 employees leaving County service effective Aug. 1. We also held vacant a large number of County positions to generate needed savings.”

For 2021, the County has projected that sales tax will grow to $695 million, which is $46 million below the 2020 Budget.

Director of Economic Development Bridget Gibbons said: “Our office is determined to assist Westchester businesses that have faced a deleterious impact from the Covid-19 pandemic. This Budget, with its $5M for expanded economic development programs, gives us the tools to tackle this immense challenge.  We are grateful to the Board of Legislators and the County Executive for their support for these initiatives.”

Social Justice was also a theme in this year’s budget by focusing on:

  • Human Rights Commission fair housing investigations
  • Countywide community dialogue on race relations
  • Department of Correction programs and partnerships 
  • Implementation of implicit bias trainings in Departments of Probation and Correction
  • Implementation of access to justice program with the NYS Unified Court System

The County also anticipates reduced revenues in some of our parks in 2021 as certain facilities are still being utilized for COVID purposes. However, the 2021 Budget fully funds each of our County parks and recreational facilities which have remained open and available to our residents during the pandemic. This Budget does not raise any fees for our parks since it is important that they remain accessible to all residents of Westchester. 

Westchester County Park Commissioner Kathy O’Connor said: “Our parks have been more important than ever for residents’ physical and mental wellbeing.  The ongoing pandemic has made it clear just how essential they have become.  We have seen growth in all activities and are appreciative and excited that we will be able to continue to provide our services to the public at our facilities in 2021 with no fee increases. Naturally essential….Parks!”

The 2021 Budget also prioritizes women by:

  • Enhancing MWBE participation 
  • Increasing funding to WEDC for MWBE through CARES Act
  • Funding specialized domestic violence training for police
  • Office for Women funding for immigrant legal services, Domestic Violence legal assistance, and child care capacity development
  • Creating Economic Development entrepreneurship program for women
  • Creating a women’s mentoring network partnership to assist women in finding employment

Assistant to the County Executive for Community and Immigrant Affairs Martha Lopez said: “Westchester County’s MWBEs will be boosted by the funds set aside in this budget. County Executive Latimer’s commitment to MWBE advancement is more than just a talking point – and this budget proves our commitment. I look forward to working with Westchester’s businesses and the County Executive to advance this goal.”

Westchester County Office for Women Director Robi Schlaff said: “This is a great budget for Westchester women strengthening support for child care, domestic violence prevention, and women-owned business programs. Women in Westchester continue to be supported by County Executive George Latimer and the 2021 budget proves it.  This budget protects women and families, through funding of domestic violence services, child care, economic opportunities and eviction prevention.”

Latimer also submitted a Capital Budget that contained $231.8 million in new appropriations for capital projects. The Capital Budget includes over $112 million for projects that will provide improvements to the environment, including a food scrap recovery facility, 100 Hybrid replacement buses and electric vehicle charging stations. 

Westchester County Director of Energy Conservation and Sustainability Peter McCartt said: “This is a balanced budget with a further commitment to the environment that includes dedicated investment in our infrastructure that saves energy and money while at the same time fighting climate change with big payoffs for the future.  Following science with smart green investment away from fossil fuels is a hallmark of this administration.” 

The County’s Capital Program also supports over 2,000 permanent jobs within the County.

Chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators Ben Boykin said: “Building back from this once-in-a-century pandemic is going to be a multi-year process, but we have taken an important step with this budget.  At a time when the people are turning to government for help, we are proving for people who are hungry, or who may be facing domestic violence or eviction, aiding students who need educational support and strengthening support for childcare to help our working families. We've also added millions for business development to help the Westchester economy recover from the pandemic. At the same time, we've been able to cut overall spending and lower the tax levy on property owners. The County budgets passed unanimously, which is extremely rare, but that's a reflection of the creativity and leadership of the County Executive, our County Budget Department and my fellow legislators all pulling in the same direction in a time of crisis to protect the people of Westchester.

Minority Leader Margaret Cunzio said: “2020 has been a very challenging year and I hope we don’t see another year like it. The 2021 budget addresses the needs of taxpayers and homeowners including no tax increase.  In addition, it addresses the difficulties and challenges of those both directly and indirectly affected by this pandemic by maintaining services and funding to  organizations helping others in need. We must continue to move the County forward.  I am cautiously optimistic that we can soon return to having a ‘sense of normalcy’.”

Vice-Chair Alfreda Williams said: “I am pleased that the Board of Legislators could work with the County Executive to produce a budget that provides the many necessities for the people of Westchester County and can do it with a slight property tax decrease.  I am particularly pleased that we could do that by increasing our contribution to childcare by two percent, thereby decreasing the parents share for those who qualify.  Going forward, I hope the federal government sees fit to provide additional resources to local government so we can continue to provide for our brave and worthy citizens.”

Chairwoman of the Budget & Appropriations Committee Catherine Borgia said: “In 2020, we were reminded again just how important government services are in times of crisis. For 2021, in was imperative to preserve and expand our ability to respond to the needs of those struggling with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing crisis of racism while confront budgetary challenges resulting from lost revenue in 2020. I'm proud that we were able to achieve these goals -- expanding safety net protections, making policy changes that reflect our priorities, and cutting the overall budget and tax levy. I'd especially like to thank County Executive Latimer for joining with the Board to fund a reduction in the share of childcare costs paid by parents who are income-eligible for help -- from 25 to 23 percent.  That's a huge help to families in Westchester, especially those at the lower end of the economic spectrum who may be struggling to hold on to work or get back to work during the pandemic.”

Majority Leader MaryJane Shimsky said: “The 2021 Westchester County operating budget is meant to serve all County residents, from strapped property owners to families struggling with the economic impacts of the pandemic. It reflects the hard work and creativity of the County Executive's team and the County Budget Department, as well as the Board of Legislators and our team. The funding we commit to fight hunger and help provide housing, remote access and childcare will carry our residents to a post-pandemic future. The capital budget we passed today is just as important. Our capital program supports more than 2,000 jobs, and our investments (at historically low interest rates) in roads, bridges, parks, energy efficient transportation, sanitation and recycling, will build a platform for our renewal."

Majority Whip Christopher A. Johnson said: “The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted and deepened the need of many in our County -- from hunger, to the digital divide, to people worried about what will happen when eviction moratoriums expire, to small businesses struggling to keep going, to essential workers facing the challenge of affordable and accessible childcare. The 2021 budget stands up for Westchester residents in need, even in the face of the County's own revenue shortfall.  That we can provide for those in need isn't a miracle; it's the result of the commitment to deliver for a County in a time of crisis on the part of the County Executive, the Board of Legislators, and whole of County government responding to the needs of the people.”