2015 County Budget Work Kicks into High Gear

 

CountyBudget

Now that the 2014 elections are over, we are turning our attention to the 2015 Westchester County budget and how it will affect kids.

The Westchester County Budget allocates financial resources to programs that positively affect the well-being of our children.  The proposed budget gives us an indication of where county government priorities lie, so it is a document that we pay very close attention to.

Please mark your calendars and plan on attending the public budget hearings to keep children and youth at the top of the public agenda.  By law, the budget must be approved by December 27, but between then and now the County Budget will be up for debate (Here’s a more detailed account of the process).  All hearings start at 7 pm. If you are willing to speak, arrive by 6:15 to sign up.

  • November 20th, New Rochelle City Hall Chambers, 515 North Avenue, New Rochelle
  • November 25th, Somers High School, 120 Primrose Street, Lincolndale
  • December 3rd, Westchester County Office Building, 8th floor, 148 Martine Avenue, White Plains

Click HERE to find out what Westchester Children Association and Campaign for Kids County Budget priorities are for 2015.

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That said, we’re taking a look at the County Executive’s proposed budget right now and already have some questions.

CHILD CARE

  • The parent share for subsidized child care (Low Income, Title XX, & Temporary Assistance) remains flat at 27% for the third year in a row. This is disappointing; we are advocating for a decrease in the parent share from 27% to 15%.
  • The County states that Subsidized Child Care slots (average monthly) will increase from 2,847 in 2013 to a projected 3,283 in 2015 (up by 15%). (page C-201).
  • However, we see that in 2014, Federal and State aid for Child Care was appropriated at $37,661,000. For 2015, that amount has been budgeted at $32,281,000 (down by 15%) (page B-15).
  • On page C-203, there is no specific line that is called “Child Care” in the Department of Social Services budget, so it is hard to know where the funding for these additional slots is coming from.

INVEST IN KIDS (Funding for Youth Development Programs) 

  • According to the administration’s press release, funding for Invest In Kids will be increased by 3%.  And in fact the proposed amount is 3% more than the amount in the adopted 2014 budget ($206,000 versus $200,000 in 2014).
  • HOWEVER, the amount actually appropriated for Invest In Kids in 2014, according to the 2015 Proposed Operating Budget, (page C-611) was $280,524.
  • From $280,524 spent in 2014 to $206,000 proposed in 2015. This implies a DECREASE of 26.6% as opposed to a 3% increase.
  • To make things even more confusing, the bulk of the funding that used to be in the Invest in Kids line has been moved to the Youth Bureau’s budget (page C-22) and this amount is shown as increasing by 1.4% from 2014-2015.

If and when we find more budget questions, we’ll be sure to post it on the blog. If you have any comments or insights to what we’ve seen so far, or just want to make a comment about the County Budget in general, feel free to let us know.

Cora Greenberg made significant contributions to this post.

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