It’s been a very long time since Democratic and Republican legislators joined with the County Executive in a bipartisan manner to pass the County budget on time.
By Robin Jovanovich
It’s been a very long time since Democratic and Republican legislators joined with the County Executive in a bipartisan manner to pass the County budget on time. On December 7, they did just that. The 2013 budget calls for $1.7 billion in spending and no increase in taxes.
Equally as important, the budget does not “raid”, using County Executive’s Rob Astorino’s terminology, emergency reserves. In previous years, the County has used reserves for operating expenses, which impelled Moody’s Investor Service to warn the County it would lower its AAA rating if the practice continued.
However, getting to a bipartisan vote was a wild and crazy affair. When it was apparent that the Democratic Chairman of the County Legislature, Ken Jenkins, didn’t have the votes to pass his version of the budget (which used $11 million in emergency reserves), he and most of the Democrats walked out of the chamber. It gets worse. Jenkins shut off the chamber lights and microphones, and activated an annoying buzzer heard throughout the building.
In the din and darkness, two Democratic legislators, Virginia Perez of Yonkers and Michael Kaplowitz of Somers, joined with the seven Republican legislators to forge a compromise that keeps 28 jobs cut in Astorino’s original proposal, takes no money from the County’s reserves, and keeps taxes flat.
Jenkins has threatened to sue the County, a regular exercise of late, over the budget. As of press time, no legal action as yet has been taken by the Democratic Chairman.