The fourth proposed Capital Budget of the Latimer administration emphasizes investments in affordable housing, hybrid and electric vehicles, and recreational facilities such as Playland and Memorial Field.
Continuing his focus on the maintenance of Westchester County assets and utilizing capital funds to make strategic investments in the County’s future, Westchester County Executive George Latimer released his proposed 2022 Capital Budget.
The fourth proposed Capital Budget of his administration emphasizes investments in affordable housing, hybrid and electric vehicles, and recreational facilities such as Playland, Memorial Field, and the completion of a continuous Bronx River Pathway from New York City to Kensico Dam Plaza.
This budget proposal requests $476.4 million in new appropriations on an all funds basis for 2022. This appropriations request breaks down as follows:
- $291.9 million for general County purposes;
- $152.4 million for the sewer and water districts;
- $4.1 million for the refuse district; and
- $28.0 million for Westchester County Airport.
Latimer said: “Over the past four years we have made significant investments in our County’s infrastructure, while maximizing efficiencies to reduce costs, improved the County’s bond rating and we have done all of this while cutting County property taxes for our residents. We are not here to let things fall apart while spewing rhetoric – we are here to get results and to make life better for the over one million people who call Westchester County home. This is our County, and together we will work to make Westchester County the strongest it can be.”
Year-to-date the County has expended over $119 million on capital improvements. The backlog of capital projects has also been reduced by $400 million since Latimer took office in 2018. Over the past three years, Latimer’s Administration has made great strides to improve the capital program and increase efficiency. The most notable improvement resulted from the approval by the New York State Legislature, at the County’s request, to eliminate the $10 million dollar bond referendum cap, which ultimately saves the County money by eliminating extra costs from breaking up projects unnecessarily into pieces.
County Budget Director Lawrence Soule said: “We have made progress toward improving the County’s Credit Ratings while continuing to invest in our infrastructure. Fitch Ratings recently removed the negative outlook (current rating AA+ Stable) on the County’s general obligation bonds citing the County’s strong underlying revenue growth potential and significant ability to implement policy decisions that would close budget gaps and maintain very high financial resilience. They further state that the revision from negative to stable reflects their expectations that the County will maintain its improved financial resilience over time based on recent operating results that have bolstered general fund reserves. An improved credit rating has the positive effect of lowering the County’s borrowing cost for capital projects.”
As in prior years, affordable housing is once again a top priority with a combined $50 million included for land acquisition and infrastructure improvements to support the development of affordable housing within the County. If approved by the County Board of Legislators, the 2022 Capital Budget would represent the largest single year commitment to affordable housing in County history.
Planning Commissioner Norma Drummond said: “The County’s contribution to affordable housing helps to create strong communities where members of the workforce and community volunteers can live. We need to be able to house those that provide the services that contribute to our great quality of life all across the County.”
Environmental Conservation / Transportation
Long committed to environmental conservation efforts, the County Executive has earmarked:
- $31.9 million in appropriations for the purchase of electric hybrid buses for the County’s Bee-Line Bus System;
- $4.3 million to begin the process of electrifying the County’s two bus garages;
- $1 million for the installation of EV charging stations at County facilities; and
- $1.1 million for improvements at Hilltop Hanover Environmental Center.
Latimer continued: “When it comes to the environment it is important we make changes now, and also set the path for changes to come. I am committed to an electric fleet and I am also committed to educating future generations about the benefits of environmental conservation.”
Department of Public Works and Transportation Commissioner Hugh Greechan said: “This was a historic year for Westchester County with the purchase of our first ever all-electric Bee-Line bus. In addition to procuring six fully electric buses we invested in the charging infrastructure and equipment to facilitate electrification at our Valhalla bus garage. In 2022, we will continue to add to our all-electric and hybrid-electric bus fleet and County vehicle fleet as part of the Capital Budget. The future is in sustainable transportation and the Department is leading the way for other fleet and bus systems across the Country.”
Director of Energy Conservation and Sustainability Peter McCartt said: “As renewable energy such as wind, hydro, geothermal and solar has become more available, Westchester County is positioned to take advantage of it for our transportation and buildings. Electric vehicles are more relevant and adding charging for our fleets, our employees, and our constituents just makes sense. I am particularly pleased to see Hilltop Hanover included here, the Farm and Environmental Center is a real gem for the County and to demonstrate sustainable and organic farming is very innovative and educational for young and old alike.”
Westchester County Parks
Westchester County Parks saw unprecedented demand during the pandemic and the County Executive has continued his commitment to improve and enhance this vital County resource. The County Executive’s proposal also includes $4 million to begin the process of re-imagining the Westchester County Center. The County Center has not had a major improvement since the 1980’s, and an examination of the entertainment space is needed especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Within the Westchester County Parks System, a combined $45 million has been allocated for structural improvements to the Ice Casino at Playland and Playland Amusement Park.
Relating to the dollars earmarked for Memorial Field Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins said: “When County Executive Latimer came into office he made a commitment to the people of Mount Vernon and this County that Memorial Field would return to former glory – and now we are on our way to seeing that become a reality. We are focused on finishing Memorial Field and I look forward to the day it is completed.”
Westchester County Parks Commissioner Kathy O’Connor said: “We are very excited to continue to rebuild and renew our Parks including Playland Amusement Park, and much needed work in the Playland Ice Casino. We will soon begin the process of reinventing the County Center for County residents to enjoy for generations to come.”
Under the 2022 proposed Capital Budget, over 2,000 permanent jobs will continue to be supported in the County. Latimer said none of these strides would be possible without our partners in the construction industry.
Director of Operations Joan McDonald said: “Capital plans are not just about the physical assets to be acquired or improved, but the people that make those improvements happen as well.”
Major improvements are planned for the Mamaroneck and Yonkers wastewater recovery facilities in 2022. $37.5 million is included for Mamaroneck for a variety of improvements including nitrogen and phosphorus removal to protect the Long Island Sound, emergency power systems and odor control. At Yonkers, $22.6 million is included primarily for additional odor control measures and the completion of the methane recapture project that will allow the facility to generate approximately 70 percent of its energy needs.
Commissioner of Environmental Facilities Vincent Kopicki said: “These are important projects that will help our department maintain our mission of protecting, preserving and conserving the water supply and quality of watercourses within or on the borders of Westchester County, providing proper solid waste stream reduction and recycling, and to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. County Executive Latimer is committed to keeping Westchester County environmentally responsive and compliant.”
Westchester County Airport
The Westchester County Airport is also included in the proposed Capital Budget, $28 million in new appropriations for improvements to the potable and fire suppression water systems to ensure the health and safety of all employees and patrons at the facility.
Greechan continued: “This project will provide potable water and additional fire protection to current standards along the west side of the County Airport. This will ensure a safe environment to the traveling public adding redundancy to the water supply throughout the Airport.”
The Westchester County Board of Legislators will receive the proposed Capital Budget and the proposed Operating Budget, and are charged with passing the County Budget by the end of December 2021.
View Full News Conference Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SteNJxpSSjc
View Westchester County 2022 Proposed Capital Budget: https://www.westchestergov.com/county-budgets