Final Public Hearing on 2013 Budget Draws a Big Crowd to the County Center

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Image002WHITE PLAINS, NY -- The final public hearing on County Executive Robert P. Astorino’s Proposed 2013 Budget drew another large crowd of over 300 people last night to the Westchester County Center, as dozens of residents implored the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) to save jobs of experienced professionals, restore important programs slated to be cut and continue to invest in public safety and health initiatives.

The entire public hearing was streamed ‘live’ on the BOL website, westchesterlegislators.com. The three public hearings and all of the BOL’s Budget & Appropriations Committee meetings relating to budget overview are all available as archived video on the BOL website in the “Budget Dashboard.”

“The public participation in the budget process this year has been heartening, to say the least,” Legislator Judy Myers (D-Larchmont), chair of the Budget & Appropriations Committee. “Westchester residents have voiced their deep concerns and specific disapprovals with County Executive Astorino’s proposed budget, and they are nearly unanimous in agreement that the staffing cuts and elimination of important programs are not right.”

Previous public hearings on Astorino’s Proposed 2012 Budget were held in the Village of Mamaroneck Town Hall and the Vincent F. Nyberg General Meeting Room at the Town of Cortlandt’s Town Hall in Cortlandt Manor.

A number of Westchester County’s probation and corrections officers spoke out that staffing cuts would jeopardize public safety for residents and business owners. A similar message was sounded by several members of the County’s Office of Emergency Services, whose jobs were set to be cut in Astorino’s budget but added back by the BOL.

One resident spoke in support of reinstating the fifteen probation officers cut in Astorino’s proposed budget, and said, “It is poor fiscal and social policy to cut these probation officers.”

Indeed, it is a well-known fact that one person in prison costs taxpayers over $100,000 a year, yet one carefully monitored person on probation costs only about $2000 a year. With probation monitoring, the savings more than pays for probation officer salaries, benefits and pensions. With case loads of 50-100, probation officers are literally saving upwards of $5 million a year per each officer versus keeping offenders in prison. Furthermore, by allowing reforming criminals to reintegrate into society, work, be with family, pay taxes and become contributing members to society in a carefully monitored environment, the likelihood of their return to prison is greatly reduced.

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