State comptroller audits Westchester’s 2018 budget


WHITE PLAINS – When Westchester County Executive George Latimer took office in January, he asked the state comptroller’s office to review the 2018 county budget drafted by then-County Executive Robert Astorino and the former county Board of Legislators.
The review said the county overestimated the projected increase in sales tax revenue by budgeting $544.5 million, a 3.7 percent increase from 2017, or $19.3 million. Auditors estimated total collections to be closer to $538.4 million based on a 2.5 percent increase, which is closer to the actual sales tax collected over the past five years.
Auditors also noted the county budgeted $246.6 million in state aid revenue for 2018. The amount may be overestimated because a five-year trend shows that the total state aid revenue to the county has been less than budgeted, with variances ranging from $5.7 million (2.4 percent) to $18.9 percent (7.8 percent), the review found.
At the time of the review, the county had four expired collective bargaining agreements: CSEA, expired on December 31, 2011; District Attorney’s Investigators PBA (expired December 31, 2015); New York State Nurses Association (expired December 31, 2015); and Corrections Superior Officers (expired December 7, 2017).
The auditors said the county faces a potentially significant increase in sale and wages when new contracts are reached.
The state review found the county budget fell below the state-mandated tax cap of two percent or the rate of inflation.
The auditors recommended that the county executive and legislature monitor sales tax and state aid revenues to make any needed budget amendments if revenues fall short of estimates, and to consider the potential impact of the settlement of expired collective bargaining agreements and to be prepared to provide the necessary funding if that any are settled this year. 

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