WHITE PLAINS – Westchester County Executive George Latimer has proposed a 2020 county budget of $2.1 billion that includes a $1 million reduction in the property tax levy. This proposal is $200 million more than the current plan.
The drop in the tax levy is the first time in nine years and only the second time in 19 years that the county tax levy will be cut.
“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,” said Latimer. “This budget is about the people who live in Westchester. It is about giving them some property tax relief, and at the same time working to make the their county the best it can be – by providing services and programs taxpayers rely on while placing the county back on solid financial ground.”
The spending plan includes $1.5 million in new housing and community development initiatives focusing on building affordable housing as well as education initiatives to enable more county families to move toward homeownership.
The budget allocates $1 million in economic development for, among other things, a comprehensive long-term strategy and implementation plan; the last one was conducted in 2000.
The spending plan includes an additional $400,000 for environmental initiatives including stormwater gauges and Planting Westchester, a program that will plant trees, greenery and add community gardens for food security and carbon sequestration.
Following the rash of hate crimes in the county, Latimer is refocusing on the county’s Human Rights Commission and is adding the position of hate crime specialist. Money has also been earmarked for anti-bias educational programs for schools and college campuses.
The budget also includes a three percent increase in funding to non-profits and expands the Invest in Kids programs to include pilot programs that will allow innovation and will not be limited to geography or socioeconomic patterns. Latimer’s budget also reduces the parent contribution for county administered daycare programs from 27 percent to 25 percent, eliminates hourly billing and grants a three percent provider increase.
The budget also earmarks money for increasing county customer service initiatives for Bee-Line and Paratransit, streamlining the capital project process, takes a holistic approach to community development and sustainability, and studies fire response and prevention at Valhalla Grasslands Campus.
The county board of legislator will now scrutinize the spending plan and must pass it before December 27, 2019.