WHITE PLAINS, NY-Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino today announced that taxpayers will see $3 million in net savings next year, as a result of 162 county government employees taking part in a voluntary incentive to leave their jobs by July 31. Under the plan, departing employees receive $1,000 for every year of completed county service.
“This is a win for everybody,” said Astorino. “Employees are rewarded for their years of service and taxpayers benefit from the savings generated from our ability to streamline the workforce. These savings will be applied to reducing the $56 million deficit the county is facing in 2016.”
The cost of the incentive is estimated to be $800,000, while the net savings is projected to be $2.97 million, an almost fourfold return on investment. The departures will give departments the flexibility to align their staffs more efficiently. In addition, as jobs are refilled, the county can save substantial amounts of money because contract modifications and changes in state law make the cost of new hires less expensive, particularly in the areas of fringe benefits such as pension and health care costs.
The 162 employees represent 3.3 percent of the county’s budgeted workforce of 4,867. Worker compensation is the biggest expense in the county budget. The average compensation of current county workers is approximately $130,000 a year; $80,000 for salary and an additional $50,000 or 63 percent for benefits.
The county budget office is currently projecting a $56 million deficit for 2016. Part of the reason is that sales tax collections are weaker than expected, down 3.7 percent in the first quarter of 2015 compared to 2014.
To deal with these financial challenges, Astorino has consistently held the line on government spending. The county budget today of $1.7 billion is less than the $1.8 billion budget Astorino inherited in January 2010.
Astorino has ruled out increasing the county property tax levy as some have urged him to do, saying that Westchester is the highest taxed county in the country and any tax that he controls will not go up on his watch.