WHITE PLAINS – Last Tuesday, the Westchester County Board of Legislators passed the 2024 Westchester County Budget.
Chairman Vedat Gashi (D – New Castle, Somers, Yorktown) said, “As a Westchester resident with a family, I recognize that each dollar counts. As Chairman of the County Board of Legislators, I am proud that we have maintained our commitment to keeping the tax burden in mind while making great strides to achieve an upgraded Bond Rating to AAA. We have done this by carefully managing resources to revive medium-term growth for County residents while improving public safety, transforming our mental health care system, protecting our environment, and investing in our children’s future.”
The $ 2.7 billion budget includes additions approved by the Budget & Appropriations Committee. It reflects key priorities and investments in advocacy for youth, domestic violence, mental health, support for community centers and services, arts and culture, and environmental sustainability to make Westchester more affordable, livable, and safer.
The Board weighed public recommendations on which items to add to the Executive’s proposal through a series of public engagement sessions: two public input sessions and one Charter-mandated public hearing at the Board’s Chamber. The Board has committed in the FY2024 Westchester County budget to the following areas of investment:
The Capital Budget reflects $ 510.7 million in new appropriations, including $ 354.7 million for general County purposes for upgrades and improvements in Housing, Environmental Initiatives, Parks, Infrastructure, and Transportation, with $156.0 million for Refuse, Sewer, and Water districts.
The Operating Budget allocates $8.8 million to the many non-profits that provide essential services for Westchester County residents. Areas of focus reflect the priorities of the Budget and Appropriations Committee and include over $4 million for community centers and community-based services, $550,000 for cultural organizations, over $2.5 million for youth programming and services, $620,500 for organizations combatting food insecurity, and over $1 million for domestic violence.
Legislators are mandated by the County Charter to review and approve the proposed budgets submitted by the County Executive’s office no later than December 27. Before final approval, Legislators may propose additions to the allocations by the first Monday in December, colloquially called “Adds Day.” No new items can be added to the budget after this point. Before final adoption, the Board’s Committee on Budget & Appropriations can further review the joint proposal but only to delete items from the appropriations list.
Legislator Jewel Williams Johnson (D – Elmsford, Greenburgh, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown, White Plains), Budget & Appropriations Committee Chair said, “The 2024 County Budget is a sound and balanced budget. It upholds our commitment to programs that meet the needs of Westchester County residents. I am very proud to Chair the Committee on Budget and Appropriations to usher through the approval of this budget today as it continues to emphasize health and mental health services, on the development of affordable housing and on environmental programs. This budget is also a catalyst for creating an even more inclusive economy. I am so glad we’re continuing the child care scholarships and I am very excited about the new initiatives in 2024 including a new Director of Flood Mitigation & Resiliency and funding for United Way’s new Growing Together Westchester Family Resource Tool for new parents.”
Vice-Chair Nancy Barr (D – Port Chester, Rye Brook, and Harrison), said, “As someone who believes that County government should protect the health and welfare of its residents while maintaining sound fiscal management, I am pleased that this year’s budget does precisely that. By taking advantage of unprecedented grant and trust funds that are available for flood mitigation, environmental initiatives, and health and wellness, we can maximize our impact without raising taxes or decreasing fund balance.”
Majority Leader José Alvarado (D – Southwest Yonkers), said, “Bringing our County budget together is a year-long process. It takes strong governance, fiscal prudence, and as Majority Leader, it takes bringing our Board together so we can align on priorities that will best serve the people of Westchester in both the near term and in a sustainable way.”
Majority Whip Tyrae Woodson Samuels (D – Mount Vernon) said, “As we keep taxpayers in mind, we balance that with fiduciary responsibility to ensure the government is solvent and positioned to deliver services to residents in Westchester County. With the recent improvement in Westchester County’s credit rating, the responsibility now lies with the Board of Legislators to continue forward sustainably and equitably.”
Westchester County recently announced its recognition by Fitch Ratings as having achieved the highest possible AAA credit rating. During this time of tighter credit conditions, this rating reflects a positive economic outlook for Westchester County.