Latimer Punts on Westchester Economy

Branda Challenges County Executive Latimer to Invest More in Westchester Capital Projects Westchester County Executive George Latimer’s…

Latimer Punts on Westchester Economy

2020-10-16  •  2

Branda Challenges County Executive Latimer to Invest More in Westchester Capital Projects Westchester County Executive George Latimer’s…

Branda Challenges County Executive Latimer to Invest More in Westchester Capital Projects

Westchester County Executive George Latimer’s proposed 2021 capital budget, released to the public today, cuts next year’s county investment by 34% from last year’s approved plan. According to Dan Branda, the Republican candidate for County Executive, Westchester needs to significantly increase infrastructure spending next year to help rebuild the economy.

“Every $100,000 that the county invests in infrastructure creates a job and puts real money into the community,” Branda said. “Latimer’s budget will lose nearly 700 jobs by cutting planned appropriations by about $70 million. If passed, the lack of investment in this budget will ripple throughout the local economy and squander an opportunity to grow economic activity post-COVID.”

Compared to 2020’s $205 million capital authorization for the county general budget, Latimer is proposing to appropriate just $136 million in capital spending for 2021--including a $38 million reduction for county parks--with only $40 million in new proposed projects.

Branda’s solution starts with moving new capital projects to 2021:

“This Capital Budget adds more than $800 million in new projects to the 5-year plan but only a tiny fraction of that is for next year. Let’s accelerate more of these projects and not punt on the economy,” Branda said. “With a projected $250 million budget gap, the unemployment rate in New York at 10% and the real unemployment number much higher, Westchester needs to reduce its operating costs to protect property taxpayers, conservatively estimate future sales tax revenue, and use its debt capacity to help put people back to work. Instead, we’re moving toward a budget that will borrow for operating costs in order to sustain last year’s reckless spending increases while making deep cuts where it hurts the most.

“Latimer’s lack of capital investment shows that his priorities are misguided and he’s beholden to the wrong interests,” Branda added.

With the airport and special district budgets included, the combined county reduction in capital for 2021 is approximately 23%. The below table shows approved capital appropriations for 2017 and 2020 compared with 2021’s proposed budget. Airport and Special District capital projects can be, but usually are not, paid for with general funds.

Budget 2017 2020 2021
County General Fund $217,324 $205,168 $136,335
Airport $10,755 $19,700 $11,640
Refuse District $0 $6,000 $1,000
Sewer & Water Districts $38,350 $71,980 $84,410
Total $266,429 $302,848 $233,285

Though authorized by the Board of Legislators to spend as much as $302 million on capital projects in 2020, Latimer reported that the county has spent just $155 million to date--a near 50% cut to capital investment.

Reference

2017 Westchester Capital Budget
2020 Westchester Capital Budget
2021 Westchester Capital Budget