County execs see 'red' over Spitzer's proposed budget

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County executives from Westchester, Rockland and Orange are fighting mad over Gov. Eliot Spitzer?s proposed budget that makes counties responsible for costs usually split with the state.

During a joint meeting in White Plains Tuesday, Westchester County Executive Andy Spano and his counterparts in Orange and Rockland expressed their concerns that Spitzer's new state budget could force property taxes to go up.

Spitzer's budget would make counties responsible for an extra 2 percent of welfare costs. Counties would also end up paying for local youth detention, a cost that is now shared equally with the state. The budget change could cost Westchester an extra $6 million, Orange County an additional $3 million and up to an extra $1 million for Rockland.

?We're with him to try and lower property taxes and keeping costs down, but you don't keep costs down when you shift them to another entity,? says Spano. ?If you shift them to us, we still have to tax the taxpayer.?

The county execs say the budget costs are coming at a time when sales tax and property tax receipts are dwindling in a slow economy. A spokesperson for the governor's office says the county executives are not correct when they say property taxes will have to go up under the new budget. Current tax levels would be sufficient to cover any potential increase, according to the spokesperson.

Meanwhile, the county executives are asking their state representatives to intervene to try and prevent any budget shift.

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