Top Stories 2012: Westchester County Budget Controversy

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The Daily Voice is heading into the new year by counting down, in no particular order, the Top 10 stories from 2012.

The vote on the 2013 Westchester budget turned controversial when a “bi-partisan coalition” of the seven Republican legislators and two defecting Democrats voted and passed their own version of the budget after Chairman Kenneth Jenkins (D-Yonkers) had tried Dec. 7 to adjourn a special meeting of the Board of Legislators.

Before a vote took place, Judy Myers (D-Larchmont) moved to recommit the budget proposed Nov. 14 by County Executive Rob Astorino, which Democrats had changed to restore job and program cuts. The Democrats said they wanted more time to work out a better budget, failing to come to an agreement on how to pay for tax certioraris. Democrats wanted to use approximately $13 million in fund balance, while Astorino proposed borrowing.

After Jenkins tried to adjourn the meeting, the seven Republicans said there was a quorum because Democratic Legislators Virginia Perez and Michael Kaplowitz remained in the room. Both threw support behind the minority report, the Republicans' version of the 2013 budget, which keeps the tax levy flat and restores 28 of the 126 jobs cut in Astorino's proposed budget.

Astorino signed the coalition’s budget later that day. Democrats contend it was not legally passed, but Republicans say it is law.

A Daily Voice poll showed 80 percent of respondents believe the coalition’s budget was passed legally. 

The coalition’s budget also lowers the parent share of subsidized child care from 35 percent in Astorino’s proposed budget to 27 percent. Democrats had proposed keeping the share at 20 percent. It allocates an additional $200,000 to the Cornell Cooperative Extension and $500,000 more to ArtsWestchester.

Among the 28 positions restored are five engineers from Public Works and three parks curators. Other additions were made for legal services for immigrants ($220,000) and small business loans and technical assistance ($160,000).

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