County Executive's Proposed Budget Cuts Nearly 200 Jobs

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County Executive Robert Astorino released his 2013 budget proposal Wednesday.
County Executive Robert Astorino released his 2013 budget proposal Wednesday. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly
County Executive Robert Astorino's budget proposal does not raise the tax levy, but would cut 189 jobs, which would result in 126 layoffs.
County Executive Robert Astorino's budget proposal does not raise the tax levy, but would cut 189 jobs, which would result in 126 layoffs. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly

Updated, 6:45 p.m.

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – County Executive Robert Astorino unveiled a proposed $1.7 billion Westchester County budget Wednesday that cuts 189 jobs – laying off 126 workers – to help close a budget gap.

Astorino, who revealed his 2013 budget proposal Wednesday afternoon, said some layoffs could have been avoided if the CSEA, the county’s largest union, agreed to begin contributing to health care costs.

Karen Pecora, president of the CSEA, said the union put an offer on the table to pay into health care costs, but that the county asked for it to contribute a higher percentage than any other county union with contracts. She added that Astorino’s budget proposal cuts five CSEA positions and wants a guarantee that no positions will be cut before it will negotiate health care contributions. 

The budget does not raise the tax levy to bridge an approximately $900 million gap between expenses – $1.79 billion – and revenues – $1.7 billion.

Instead Astorino's budget would defer $35 million of the $91 million in county employee pension costs for 2013, and bond $13 million of tax certioraris, which would add $195,000 in interest during the five-year life of the bond.

County Legislators Jim Maisano (R–New Rochelle) and William Ryan (D-White Plains), said deferring, or amortizing, pension costs for 2013 raises red flags and the county legislators will have to take a careful look. Legislators now have until Dec. 27 to produce a final budget.

After taking those two costs off the 2013 budget, Astorino said there was still a $37 million shortfall, which would be made up in 189 job cuts, or 3.8 percent of the workforce, in addition to some programs cuts. He blamed the CSEA for not coming to the table to negotiate.

“The story of this budget is not what is, but what could have been,” Astorino said. “I pleaded with our largest union, the CSEA, to help avoid layoffs. Had they followed the lead of three other unions to start contributing to the cost (of) their health care, we could have saved jobs and programs. But they refused. As a result, layoffs and other cuts are regrettably my only option. It’s sad and ironic that the union leadership charged with protecting the jobs of its members ignored my repeated requests to help save jobs.”

Of the 189 positions eliminated in the proposed budget, 75 are in social services, 22 are in parks and 24 are in public works and transportation. Most county departments would be affected, Astorino said.

Additionally, Astorino would cut all funding, $3 million, for the three neighborhood health centers in Ossining, Peekskill and Mount Vernon, and reduce funding to the Cornell Cooperative Extension from $990,000 to $600,000. The proposed budget would maintain the county’s day care program at $26 million, but parents would pay up to 35 percent of their income above the poverty level. The program is expected to be $3 million over budget.

In 2013, the county’s revenues are projected to increase $12 million, while its expenses are projected to increase $97 million.  Astorino said this is because of unfunded state mandates. Pensions increased $12 million to $91 million and, without anything else, put the county above the 2 percent property tax cap, he said.

Medicaid increased $8 million to $224 million, and employee health care and salaries increased $5 million and $15 million respectively.

“A tax cap without a spending cap is a joke – a cruel one,” Astorino said.

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Comments (4)

And also the professional employees of the county have not received a raise in nine, that's 9, years. Why should anyone want to work for Astorino? He's just like every other Republican -- loyal only to his own.

Sayitsnotso , Karen is only asking what all the other unions have, they have many unions that make way over 6 digits that are guaranteed no layoffs but csea has members making 35,000 and are not guaranteed a secure work place but must pay into their healthcare.

All these years the Csea has settled for small raises as long as they kept their health benefits intact, so what use was that?

Your never going to hear it all... On the media, nurses union and county cops are not paying into their healthcare neither but they aren't being called out.

The president of the CSEA union has said she wants an agreement that has a no layoff clause if they agree to pay a portion of their health plan. NO layoffs, what planet does this woman Pecora live on certainly not here on earth with the rest of us. Who in their right mind thinks she and her union members are entitled to a no lay off contract for agreeing to pay a portion of their health plan? She and they should be so happy to have one, in the real world she would be paying 15 to 25% of it. Next, she will want wording that says they all have lifetime jobs just for working in the public sector. With leadership like she displays no wonder the county is such a mess.

Does the proposed budget only axe union jobs, not, say, his personal staff? See the link for the current job posting for the Executive Assistant to the County Executive:
This is a full-time, six-figure salary with an "excellent benefit package." Couldn't this position be part-time? Apparently, answering his own phone and keeping his own calendar is a sacrifice that Astorino is not willing to make.