County Executive George Latimer
County Executive Latimer Addresses Constituents at Local Summit Meeting
On the morning of December 12, some seventy-five persons gathered at the Westchester Jewish Center in Mamaroneck for a presentation hosted by the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Local Summit to hear Westchester County Executive George Latimer report on the state of the County. The event marked the first in-person meeting of the Local Summit since the onset of the Covid pandemic.
Mr. Latimer addressed a number of issues facing the County and described the $2.4 billion budget that will support County operations in the coming fiscal year. Mr. Latimer advised that no increase in property taxes will be required to meet the costs of the County’s operations in 2024. He noted that the proposed County budget marks the fourth consecutive year without an increase in the County tax levy. He added that increased revenues from sales taxes and strength in the County’s economy had helped to ensure the County’s fiscal strength and reduce pressure on property taxes during 2023.
Mr. Latimer then addressed the issue of affordable housing, conceding that the County suffers from a lack of affordable housing, despite his administration’s efforts to increase the number of available units. The combination of expensive land, growing demand, and high construction costs thwart efforts to ensure the availability of local affordable housing, a matter especially concerning for people of modest means. He noted that $90 million has been set aside in the County budget to assist communities with affordable housing initiatives.
During his administration, 2,500 units of affordable housing have been added, which is three times the number added by his predecessor’s (Rob Astorino’s) administration. Despite this increase, Mr. Latimer noted that the County needs an additional 12,000-14,000 units to really start to address the problem, a challenge that would require Federal commitment to funding.
Turning to the vexing problem flooding presents to the community, Mr. Latimer noted that Hurricane Ida afforded his administration a particularly instructive lesson on the power of hurricanes to destroy and disrupt whole sections of communities in the County. He pointed out, however, that dealing with flooding is a regional challenge since the flow of water shows no respect for artificial boundaries and man-made property lines drawn on a map. The construction of housing, roads, and other structures generally increases run-off and reduces the land’s natural ability to absorb and retain water. Mr. Latimer cautioned against making this an “up-county vs. down-county” issue.
Using the example of one flood mitigation project in Mamaroneck that is receiving $21 million in County aid, Mr. Latimer pointed out the cost required to address flooding issues in the many Westchester communities impacted by flooding is astronomical. As with affordable housing, significant State and Federal assistance is required to address these issues.
Westchester Joint Water Works Filtration Plant
Mr. Latimer discussed how the Westchester Joint Water Works (WJWW) has been ordered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of New York to build a water filtration plant to reduce impurities in the water supply currently provided by WJWW to approximately 100,000 residents. In searching for a site to build the plant, a land swap has been under consideration for a parcel of land owned by the County near Westchester County Airport. Mr. Latimer said that there is some community opposition to the proposed site, adding that there are no easy solutions to the challenge of providing a site for the plant and noted drawbacks of the current alternatives as well as community opposition. He added that he and the County Board of Legislators remain in pursuit of a site and a solution to the issue.
Asked about the status of migrants who were moved to Westchester County from Texas by way of NYC, Mr. Latimer responded that there are about 400 migrants currently living in the County. They are clustered in three locations (Yonkers, Ardsley, and White Plains), with volunteer groups also playing an active role in providing supplemental support.
Mr. Latimer recently announced his candidacy for Congressman representing the 16th Congressional District. After the conclusion of the meeting, a number of attendees encircled the speaker’s table seeking details about his pursuit of the Congressional seat.
The Larchmont-Mamaroneck Local Summit is an informal community council that seeks to make a better life for the community by keeping it informed of major issues of concern. Past programs are available for viewing online on LMC Media (https://lmcmedia.org/series-page/larchmont-mamaroneck-local-summit/). The next meeting, “A Local’s Guide to Aging Well: Resources, Programs, and Strategies for Successful Aging,” will be IN PERSON, on January 9, at the Westchester Jewish Center in Mamaroneck. Visit the Local Summit online: https://www.localsummitlm.org/.