He Says There's "No Wiggle Room if County Revenue Projections Fall Short"
The BLUEPRINT for Advocacy Committee met last week and Mike Kaplowitz (D), chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, was the newly formed committee's first guest. The BLUEPRINT for Advocacy Committee is an outgrowth of the former Call-to-Action Committee. Kaplowitz explained to two dozen attendees how the new budget would work and also provided some behind-the-scenes insight about the County's budget process and 2016 forecast.
Projected Revenues With the way things are going, Kaplowitz is concerned that the county will lose its Triple A credit rating because "there is absolutely no wiggle room if revenues fall short of what the county is projecting," especially in light of the fact that the County Executive will not raise the property tax levy to cover any shortfall that might occur.
Because online consumer purchasing is proving a challenge to traditional walk-in retailers, and because gas prices have fallen, the probability of a shortfall of $10 million to $15 million in revenue, generated by sales tax, is probable.
Kaplowitz spoke briefly about Playland, which is costing the county millions to maintain each year. However, once improvements are made and the property is modernized and operated as planned, it can become a long-term source of revenue.
However, for the time being, with the rise in spending for social services programs and the flat tax levy, things are expected to get tight in 2016. The 2016 budget anticipates a 4 percent increase in sales-tax revenues over last year. But many feel this is optimistic.
One of the proposals to generate income was to sell the county's Austin Avenue property in Yonkers, although there is no contract yet. Should a sale take place, proceeds would be used to pay for back-tax settlements.