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Westchester: No Tax Hike

Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino released a proposed $1.7 billion budget for 2013 that does not raise taxes, marking the third consecutive year that the budget has reduced or kept flat the county’s tax levy.

With Westchester County already facing the highest property taxes in the country, Astorino said raising taxes was not an option.

“So many of our homeowners are struggling, especially seniors whose biggest expense is often their property taxes,” he said.

“Our focus has been and remains on preserving essential services — but also bringing down their costs so we can afford to keep our safety net in place for our most needy.”

Officials say the proposed budget aims to protect the county’s triple-A ratings by continuing a bi-partisan pledge made last year with the Board of Legislators not to dip into the county’s rainy day fund to pay for day-to-day operations.

Moody’s Investors Service has a negative outlook on the county’s $1 billion of outstanding debt due to concerns of declining reserves.

Other measures in the proposed budget include reducing the workforce by 189 positions, including 126 layoffs, participating in the state’s pension amortization program, and bonding $13 million of court-ordered tax reductions, known as certioraris.

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