Westchester County Executive George Latimer, about to wrap up his first year in office, cited these among his top accomplishments in 2018.
Do you think George Latimer has done a good job during his first year in office as Westchester county executive?
Latimer said that "bringing some of the best people I know into county government. . . is really the single biggest thing I can point to" this year.
During a Tarrytown speech before the Business Council of Westchester, Latimer also said he kept the county's best workers -- regardless of political party affiliation: "We saw talent in place and we didn't let politics get in the way of that."
Negotiating agreements in every county union contract this year, including one that expired seven years ago, was another accomplishment, Latimer said.
The Civil Service Employees Association, the union representing two thirds of the county's 4,000 employees, has its first new deal in seven years. And Latimer is expecting many early retirements in 2019 -- with a projected budget savings of $7 million but there will be staffing shortages until new hires are approved, he said.
And the county's hiring freeze was a plus, Latimer said. Latimer plans to save $7 million next year by leaving vacant positions unfilled.
Preparing for school shootings and disasters, such as an accident at one of the Indian Point nuclear power plants.
Latimer said the county has prepared aggressively, and not sought media attention during the drills, to be as best prepared as possible for worst-case incidents.
Meeting with elected officials in each of Westchester's 49 city, town and village governments is another goal that Latimer has nearly completed. "I've got four more to go,'' he said on Wednesday, Nov. 28.
Latimer also has spoken at "town hall" meetings in each of the 17 county Board of Legislators' districts.
Finally, Latimer said he wants to identify new, creative ways to balance the operating budget -- rather than dip into the so-called "rainy day fund" -- reserves already depleted under the prior administration.
One example: Latimer wants to transfer parking spaces next to the the County Center in White Plains to a quasi-public entity to raise about $22 million. Latimer said during the daytime, the lots appear to be used by train commuters more than park-goers.
The transfer of parking lots to the Local Development Corporation is complex and involves the LDC amending its bylaws, getting state approvals and having lawmakers approve the transaction and to OK removing parkland.
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