The White Plains Examiner

CE Latimer Seeks Property Tax Cut in 2020 Budget

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Westchester County Executive George Latimer said on Oct. 30 his 2020 operating budget would include a property tax cut.

Latimer made his announcement at press conference previewing his spending plan for next year at the Greenburgh home of Monica and Matthew Marone. Matthew owns and operates Westchester Milk, a small business that delivers milk and other food items, based in White Plains.

Latimer is scheduled to formally release his proposed operating budget on Nov. 8 and the ledger will be distributed to the Board of Legislators. “We’re still working on final details on a number of different things,” he said.

Latimer said he wanted to make his announcement about the tax cut because residents want information about their property taxes.

The size of the tax cut has not been finalized because his administration is still working on the spending side of his proposed budget, Latimer said.

Latimer noted that he previously said he would freeze county property taxes for 2020 and 2021.

In addition, Latimer said he would fulfill his commitment to provide $10 million into the reserve fund. In the middle of 2018 the reserve fund was down to $64 million, which was about 3.5 percent of the total budget, he noted. “That’s well below the percentage that we should be at,” he said, adding the percentage should be about 12 percent. The current reserve fund is $69 million.

“This budget will be balanced without any one-shot revenues,” Latimer said. “This budget will not borrow for any ongoing expenses.”

Increasing the sales tax was critical to next year’s budget, Latimer said. A portion of the sales tax is provided to municipalities and school districts, he said. Most county spending, 65 to 75 percent, is mandated by the state, he said.

The fiscal policies included in his proposed 2020 budget could help increase the county’s bond rating, which is currently AA1, Latimer said. Historically, the county’s bond rating was AAA, he said. The better the bond rating the lower the borrowing costs for capital projects, he said.

The Board of Legislators can make changes to his proposed budget, Latimer said, adding he can veto all or portions of the budget. He said he wanted to work with the legislators to avoid vetoes and he would listen to all 17 legislators.

“Everybody talks about how high the property taxes are in Westchester County and they are,” Latimer said. Two-thirds of property taxes in Westchester come from schools and 20 percent of property taxes are levied by the county, he said.

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