Westchester officials work to address budget shortfall

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WHITE PLAINS -

Westchester officials are working to address the county's budget shortfall.

"We are clearly in a budget crisis," says County Executive George Latimer. "One of the hallmarks of the prior administration was not to raise property taxes over seven years -- there is a cost for that."

That cost has amounted to a roughly $32 million deficit. Latimer says the failed county airport plan accounts for about $20 million and closed union contracts add in about $9 million more, along with smaller expenses.

As for the shortfall affecting taxpayers, Latimer says it does not necessarily mean there will be a property tax increase -- at least not yet.

"We're going to try and work through other revenue streams we have," he says.

Ben Boykin, chairman of Westchester County Board of Legislators, says legislators will have to work together to find solutions that protect taxpayers.

"We've been left in a financial mess we did not create," he says.

County leaders are now left to examine ways to increase revenue, like the potential of an internet sales tax and even shared services.

The county aims to come up with a plan to deal with the deficit within the next 60 days.

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