WESTCHESTER – Westchester County Executive George Latimer delivered his fourth State of the County Address in the Legislative Chambers of the Board of Legislators. Latimer acknowledged that COVID-19 has taken a toll on the County, but promised through good government, to restore and rebuild Westchester back better than it was before.
Latimer said, “Look at us – look at us vaccinated and fighting back. We have a long way to go my friends, we still aren’t all the way back, but ladies and gentlemen we are getting there, and we are united to move forward.”
Latimer stressed the importance of keeping his promise to cut County property taxes for the second year in a row, even in the midst of a crippling pandemic. He signed the 2021 budget maintaining all County services, cutting expenditure by $15.7 million dollars, and increasing the County’s fund balance to over $200 million dollars – the largest fund balance in the County’s history.
Latimer said, “I want to be clear – this is how government is supposed to work. This is good government. We have worked every day for you, and I mean that. I know what it is like to struggle, I know what it is like to have mom and dad worried at the kitchen table about bills. I know because I have lived it.”
The address included a series of videos detailing Westchester County’s continuous fight to the other side of the pandemic, including a compilation of public service announcements aimed at achieving greater vaccination numbers, a moving tribute to those who have passed from 9-11 related illness with a new memorial to be unveiled on the 20th anniversary this September, an acknowledgement of Vice Chairwoman and trailblazer Alfreda Williams who is retiring after decades of public service, a recognition of the first ever Women of Westchester (WOW) Awards, and a plan to move Westchester County forward.
The speech also highlighted several initiatives the Latimer Administration accomplished including:
* A 2020 Budget that closed with no layoffs, no furloughs, no service cuts or borrowing for pension costs
* A $16M increase in the County’s General Fund Balance to over $200M by the end of 2021- the largest in the County’s history
* The #SpeakUpWestchester Campaign launched together with District Attorney Mimi Rocah, designed to encourage those who are the victim or witness a hate crime, bias or hate incident to report it
* A strengthening of the Westchester County Human Rights Commission
* The restoration of several Westchester County Youth Bureaus
* The County’s new Compost & Education Center, to compliment Westchester residents recycling at unprecedented rates
* New appointments in leadership to several County departments, to ensure a diverse workforce for a diverse County
* Dozens of completed, in-progress or approved infrastructure projects throughout the County
Latimer commended Dr. Sherlita Amler and the Westchester County Department of Health, the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Emergency Services, who rose to the task from the onset of COVID-19, putting the health and safety of Westchester County’s residents at the forefront of their efforts.
Latimer said, “Here in Westchester County we started vaccinating on January 5, and that day we started with ten Department of Health staff members at our health clinic just down the block from here in White Plains. We were learning and teaching each other how to vaccinate for COVID-19. From that moment it has been non-stop. I also want to thank the nearly one thousand County employees who volunteered their time to work at vaccination clinics – that is the Westchester spirit!”
Latimer closed by reflecting on the many challenges the County has faced, and promising to continue to work, every day, for the good of the people of Westchester.
Latimer concluded, “I am here to tell you tonight the State of our County – Westchester County – is strong and getting stronger. Yes, we have more work to do – but I am here to tell you tonight I am here to do the job at hand, you are here to do the job at hand and together, united – we will do the job at hand. We are the State of our County, and we are united to move forward.”