Westchester County Proposed 2021 Capital Budget Calls for $20 Million for Affordable Housing Projects

Westchester County Proposed 2021 Capital Budget Calls for $20 Million for Affordable Housing Projects
From left, Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins, Westchester County Executive George Latimer and Director of Operations Joan McDonald unveiled the proposed 2021 capital budget on Oct. 15.

WHITE PLAINS—Westchester County Executive George Latimer said that in spite of the COVID pandemic, the county would continue to move forward with key parkway, road, bridge and infrastructure projects in 2021.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer announced on Oct. 15 he had sent to the Westchester County Board of Legislators the 2021 Proposed County Capital Budget. The program includes $20 million in additional funding earmarked for land acquisition and infrastructure construction to facilitate the construction of affordable housing in Westchester County.

In the administration’s third proposed capital budget, the County Executive proposes an additional $231.8 million in new appropriations. This includes: $138.8 million for the general fund, $80.4 million for the sewer and water districts, $42 million for parkways, roads and bridges; $1 million for the refuse district and $11.6 million for the airport. The County Capital Program supports more than 2,000 permanent jobs within the county, which comes at a critical time when the region’s economy has been negatively impacted by the COVID pandemic, county officials stated.

In October 2019, County Executive Latimer in his 2020 Capital Budget proposed an additional $309.7 million in new appropriations, including $218.1 million for the general fund, $66.0 million for the sewer and water districts, $6.0 million for the refuse district and $19.7 million for the airport.

Mr. Latimer said of the proposed 2021 capital program, “Despite the challenges we have faced this year, we are continuing to invest in the County’s capital infrastructure. This is not only important to maintain our assets, but also in creating jobs within the county. With our partners in the construction industry, we will award over $130 million in construction contracts in 2020, representing 31 projects throughout the county. A number of these projects have been recommended by County Legislators; we have incorporated their advocacy into our plans.”

Year-to-date the county has expended more than $155 million on capital improvements. The backlog of capital projects has also been reduced by $400 million since Mr. Latimer took office in 2018.

The Latimer Administration has in the past three years undertaken a host of initiatives to improve the capital program and increase efficiency. The most notable improvement resulted from the approval by the New York State Legislature to eliminate the $10-million bond referendum cap, which ultimately saves the county money by eliminating extra costs from breaking up projects unnecessarily into pieces.

Director of Operations Joan McDonald said of the bond requirement change, “This was part of the County Executive’s desire to move projects forward. All of these reforms have allowed us to reduce the project backlog significantly.”

Additional improvements to the program have included: moving short useful life items (i.e. passenger vehicles) to the operating budget and adding resources such as: 10 additional positions for engineering, funding for feasibility studies, asset management, and facility plans, consolidating planning and project delivery functions within the Department of Public Works, raising the RFP threshold from $100,000 to $250,000 and streamlining the Board of Legislators approvals on certain projects to not breakup design from construction.

Additionally, by being able to start implementation on January 1, the county will improve project delivery speeds dramatically.

County Budget Director Lawrence Soule said of the capital program improvements, “By authorizing some debt in conjunction with the budget each year we are taking a major step forward. This debt authorization changes all of this for the better—resulting in a quicker turn around for the residents waiting for these projects to be completed.”


The affordability of housing within the county remains a top priority. This budget proposal requests $20 million in new appropriations: $10 million for the New Homes Land Acquisition Fund and $10 million for the Housing Implementation Fund for the construction of infrastructure necessary to support the development of affordable housing.

Latimer said of the capital program’s housing funding goals for 2021, “Late last year, we released the Housing Needs Assessment that showed that there was a need for over 11,700 new affordable housing units. This budget continues the message we stated last year with $20 million more in critical resources to help create some of these units.”

Planning Commissioner Norma Drummond said: “This budget shows that the county continues to be a solid partner with our development community in creating more affordable housing opportunities.”

Parkways, Roads and Bridges

An additional $42 million was added in the 2021 Capital Budget for parkways, roads and bridges, including $8 million in additional funding for the rehabilitation of the Bronx River Parkway and $33.9 million for various roads and bridges county-wide.

Department of Public Works Commissioner Hugh Greechan said, “Taking full advantage of the reduced COVID-related traffic volumes; we will continue to have a robust Roads and Bridges program. We have experienced lower bid prices and shorter construction schedules. Maintaining the free flow of traffic is a major contributor of the overall project cost.”


A total of $80.4 million in additional funding was added for sewer and water infrastructure projects for 2021, with most including features that will result in energy efficiencies, county officials noted. Projects that will result in a reduction in greenhouse gasses include work at the Yonkers Joint Water and Resource Recovery Facility that will allow the plant to operate off-the-grid on recaptured methane and electrical and HVAC upgrades at the Port Chester plant.

Department of Environmental Facilities Commissioner Vincent Kopicki said of this year’s program, “These are exciting projects that will not only benefit the environment and help us to meet our permit requirements but will keep our department moving forward with new sustainable technologies.”

Director of Energy Conservation and Sustainability Pete McCartt added, “Over the last couple of years an expansive portfolio of energy-efficiency capital projects commenced but few as exciting and demonstrative of the co-benefits of this work than capturing the natural gas at the Yonkers plant and using it to fuel the operations at the facility itself. Converting to renewable energy, lowering energy expenditures and reducing our Green House Gas emissions are key objectives of the county.”

Westchester County Airport

At the airport, $11.7 million in new appropriations were requested including $8.7 million in additional funding for the storm water management program and enhanced water supply system.


The proposed capital plan continues numerous investments in the county’s park system, including the transformation of Playland, rebuilding of Memorial Field, and the completion of a continuous Bronx River Pathway from New York City to Kensico Plaza.

Relating to the dollars earmarked for Memorial Field, Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins said, “The county is following through on a commitment to the people of Mount Vernon and this county. We are focused on finishing Memorial Field and restoring it to its former glory. I commend the County Executive for keeping his word on this project, and I look forward to the day it is completed.”

The Westchester County Board of Legislators will receive the proposed Capital Budget and the proposed Operating Budget and are charged with passing the County Budget by the end of December 2020.

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