Latimer offers buyouts to county employees to help plug massive budget gap

The significant loss of revenue that is predicted to be between $180 million and $250 million has forced County Executive George Latimer’s hand. He is offering buyouts to county employees as a way of avoiding layoffs or furloughs.

News 12 Staff

Jul 1, 2020, 12:20 PM

Updated 1,424 days ago

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Millions of dollars in budget cuts are coming to Westchester as the coroanvirus pandemic drained the economy of municipalities across the region. 
The significant loss of revenue that is predicted to be between $180 million and $250 million has forced County Executive George Latimer’s hand. He is offering buyouts to county employees as a way of avoiding layoffs or furloughs.
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Employees who decide to stop working for the county will receive a $1,000 payment for every year of service through the voluntary leave program.
Latimer estimates the move will bring $1 million to $2 million in savings this year, and $6 million to $10 million in 2021.
Certain employees cannot participate, including elected officials, Westchester Community College employees or members of the county police, correction or district attorney investigator unions.
Latimer said this was not a road they anticipated crossing in December when they finalized the budget – but by mid-March they saw the predicted losses on the horizon.
Due to the societal shutdown, the county lost a massive amount in sales taxes, hotel occupancy taxes and other revenues on top of losses in state and federal funding.
“If we lay off a significant number of people in the county government, we are going to add to the economic downturn of this county,” said Latimer. “We are going to exacerbate the problems that you have right now. Less people having money, more people going on unemployment, less people being able to spend money at those stores that open."
Latimer did share some positive news when it comes to finances – he said the county is expecting a boost of nearly $40 million in additional revenue in federal transit aid, enhanced federal Medicaid and increase contributions from the U.S. Marshal Service.
News 12 asked the county executive would layoffs and furloughs be unavoidable if not enough people volunteer. He said that is the worst-case scenario.
County employees who want to take advantage of the voluntary leave program have until July 24 to accept it.
 
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