top of page
  • Mamaroneck Observer

The State of Westchester:

By Marina Kiriakou -

 

A Comprehensive Overview by County Executive George Latimer

 

County Executive George Latimer engaged in a thorough discussion hosted by The Larchmont-Mamaroneck Local Summit (LMLS) on December 12, 2023. The discussion was held at the Westchester Jewish Center on Palmer Avenue. The LMLS, a community organization promoting collaboration among various stakeholders, annually provides a platform for the County Executive to address critical issues affecting Westchester County.

 

Proposed County Budget for 2024

Latimer began by delving into the proposed county budget for 2024, amounting to $2.4 billion.  Emphasizing fiscal responsibility, he highlighted the significance of maintaining a freeze on the Westchester County tax levy.  Despite economic complexities, Latimer celebrated the stability and reduction of property taxes over the past four years.

 

The budget breakdown revealed diverse expenditures, encompassing regional policing, recreation, and public health services.  Latimer stressed the county's role in providing essential services, both mandated and beyond, reflecting the intricate web of responsibilities undertaken within the confines of the budget.  Latimer underscored the collaboration between the County and local governments, emphasizing the regional-local dynamic that defines their service delivery. 

 

Addressing Housing Challenges  

Transitioning to the critical issue of housing, Latimer acknowledged the challenges posed by high property taxes and living costs in Westchester, pointing to the persistent struggles faced by lower-income residents, and older individuals, and the deterrence of young professionals due to housing affordability concerns.  Latimer outlined a three-pronged approach within the budget, allocating $90 million in capital funds for land acquisition and infrastructure improvements crucial for affordable housing projects.

 

The introduction of a "flex fund" aimed at bridging financial gaps and utilizing Industrial Development Agency (IDA) funding to make affordable housing projects financially viable demonstrated an integrated strategy.

 

Despite creating 2,500 affordable housing units in our County, Latimer recognized the ongoing need for federal assistance to meet the demand for housing at lower income levels.  See HERE The Mamaroneck Observer “Affordable Housing Update.” 

 

Flooding Challenges Faced by South Shore Communities 

Continuing the dialogue, Latimer addressed challenges faced by South Shore communities, particularly focusing on flooding issues in areas like Mamaroneck.  He highlighted the vulnerability of downstream communities to flooding, exacerbated by extreme weather events.

The conversation delved into the Stormwater Management Law of 2011, contemplating the creation of stormwater districts based on watersheds. Latimer proposed utilizing tax dollars from these districts to finance projects downstream, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive resolution to flooding problems.

 

Water Filtration Plant and Land Swap

The discussion shifted to the Westchester Joint Water Works proposed water filtration plant, mandated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and essential for meeting federal water quality standards.  Latimer detailed the intricacies of a potential land swap near the Westchester County Airport, addressing community concerns and emphasizing the necessity of the project.  The timeline for the review process and the challenges of managing airport-related projects while ensuring transparency were highlighted.  

 

Handling Immigration Challenges 

Latimer tackled immigration challenges, recounting the situation when migrants were sent to progressive states, including New York.  He highlighted the humanitarian approach taken, collaborating with New York City to accommodate approximately 400 asylum seekers in Yonkers, Ardsley, and White Plains for about five months.  Latimer emphasized the absence of significant issues with crime or disease spread.

 

Acknowledging the broken immigration system, he reiterated his proposal for satellite federal courts to handle trial cases efficiently.  “You hear people say they’re illegal,” said Latimer.  “But they went through the immigration system, have filed for asylum, and they are waiting for their cases to be heard.” 

 

An uptick in Hate Crimes 

The conversation shifted to the rise in hate crimes in Westchester.  Latimer noted an increase in anti-Semitic, anti-Hispanic, and anti-Asian sentiments.  He attributed this rise to national political dialogue, the normalization of hate speech, and the impact of social media.

Latimer mentioned steps taken, including the creation of a law enforcement portal for reporting hate crimes.  However, he acknowledged the difficulty in addressing subtle forms of racism.

 

A question-and-answer session followed, with Latimer providing a comprehensive overview of Westchester County's challenges and infrastructure projects, illustrating a commitment to finding innovative solutions within budgetary constraints.  He welcomed residents to contact him with concerns at latimergeorge@gmail.com.

 

To view the hour-long interview, go to LMC Media’s homepage at www.lmcmedia.org.


bottom of page