Dear Friends and Neighbors:
Thanks for granting me the honor to serve as your County Legislator. Here’s my 2016 end-of-year update:
Vice Chair in Bipartisan Leadership Team:
I’m happy to report that we are completing our third consecutive year with a bipartisan leadership team running the Westchester Board of Legislators, where I serve as Vice Chair as a Republican with Chair Mike Kaplowitz, a Democrat. As most of the country continues to demonstrate too much partisanship, you can be proud that our county’s legislature is innovative, collegial, professional and bipartisan.
2017 Westchester County Budget:
On December 12, the Board of Legislators passed the $1.8 billion 2017 County Budget – this budget is our 7th consecutive budget that carries no tax increase while preserving essential services. While it’s not a perfect budget, we did our best to put together a bipartisan compromise budget plan, which was signed by the County Executive.
In addition to not raising taxes, the 2017 County Budget contains no layoffs of county employees. During the budget negotiations, I was involved in adding six positions to the County Police and four engineering positions to the Department of Public Works. I worked diligently to ensure that our non-profit partners, which provide important services including legal services for the poor, seniors, homeless and veterans, domestic violence prevention, arts programs and small business initiatives, kept the same level of funding as in 2016. We also added $1 million to the budget to ensure that low-income families are able to access safe and affordable childcare.
I remain concerned about the long-term projections for our county’s finances because our three main revenue sources – property taxes, sales taxes and federal and state aid – have all been flat or decreased over the past seven years. We have significantly reduced county spending to hold the line on taxes, and further cuts will negatively impact our delivery of essential services. The County Executive and Board of Legislators will have to manage our County’s finances very closely in 2017.
You may have heard about the County Executive’s proposal to enter into a public-private partnership to operate the County Airport with a company that believes it can deliver $140 million in additional funds to the County over the next 40 years with a more innovative and thoughtful plan for the airport’s operations. While this is an interesting proposal that deserves a full review, the Board of Legislators was not willing to support the plan based on only one proposal and without competitive bidding. Therefore, prior to the budget vote, the Board of Legislators voted unanimously in favor of a resolution requiring that the County Executive undertake a request for proposals (RFP) for a new operator at the County Airport to fully open up the review process and possibly identify even better proposals.
My Annual Toys for Tots Drive:
The Maisano Family ran another successful Toys for Tots event at Dudley’s in New Rochelle on December 10, 2016. We are so thankful for the hundreds of toys, gift cards and checks that were donated (we raised over $3,500), which will be distributed to kids in need in Westchester area by the Westchester Marine Corps League. Here’s a link to photos on Flickr from the event: https://flic.kr/s/aHskJrb7Cm
Keep in Touch in 2017:
My office remains the most accessible and open legislative office in the county. Please call or email me anytime. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn or my WVOX radio show discussing the issues facing our county. Happy New Year – have a great 2017!