County Exec Working on Plan B, or C
By Robin Jovanovich
Up to until late February, Westchester County’s fortunes were looking up. The Board of Legislators passed a $2.1 billion budget for 2020 that increased spending by $200 million, reduced the property tax levy slightly, and increased the funding for nonprofits.
The County budgeted $570,000 in revenues from sales tax based on a buoyant economy in the last quarter of 2019 and the fact that the 1-percentage point increase in sales tax that took effect last August showed no signs of discouraging shoppers.
Revenue from sales tax was ahead of schedule before the economy here as elsewhere went into freefall.
“Not only are we going to fall well short on sales tax revenue but also mortgage recording tax, hotel tax revenue, rental fees at the County Center, and bus fares,” said County Executive George Latimer in a candid phone conversation.
“All we can do now, as we wait for Governor Cuomo to reopen the economy, is adjust spending as we can,” he continued. “We can’t stop funding social services, our biggest department, close down the jail, or shut off the sewers. We
are running a June 1 fiscal model and a September 1 model and trying to secure additional funds from the Federal government.”
Latimer said assuredly that he will keep the Playland Boardwalk and Beach open. “And as Read Sanctuary and the Marshlands are passive parks, there are no plans to close them either, but the public pools aren’t likely to open and the ethnic festivals at Kensico aren’t likely to occur.” As far as Playland, which had a good year last year, owing to fine weather and a new ride for the first time in years, Latimer reported, the earliest the amusement park could open is Memorial Day weekend.