Inaccurately forecasting that property tax would only need to be raised a little over one percent (and insisting then that there was no way the County budget could be further cut), Westchester County Government officials now face nearly $10 million dollars less revenue from sales tax in the last fiscal quarter.
It's a loss in sales tax receipts that County lawmakers apparently didn't see coming but this is an over-estimate of holiday retail sales that comes in defiance to a recessionary spiral that would have been hard for most people to miss after Wall Street's mid-September drop.
Reported by The Journal News, Westchester County Government will be faced with the prospect of raising property taxes to recoup a loss in revenues that they assumed would be in their hands before the end of the fiscal year.
"Counties across the state suffered a 5.5 percent decline in sales-tax revenue during the last three months of 2008, prompting county officials across New York to warn that property taxes could be raised or services cut if conditions persist."
In the article, County officials incorrectly characterized a $9.8 million drop for the last three months of 2008 as "flat" -- and offer no details on what precisely will be cut by the Westchester County Board of Legislators to cover that loss in revenue.
Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano had a "deputy" deliver the bad news -- claiming no need to "panic" -- and further spinning that Westchester might be "in better shape" than other counties.
The "highest taxed county in the United States" is in better shape than other counties?
Andrew Spano's office described themselves as "now working on a savings plan that mandates department heads to cut costs in 2009" -- but there were absolutely no details on where they had cut costs to compensate directly for the loss of sales tax revenue nor was there a breakdown of where additional positions would be left unfilled to hold off increased property tax.
The fact that County bureaucrats are scurrying around "now" to cut costs-- rather than doing so before the budget process last December (before Election Day) -- demonstrates how much probably could have been cut in 2008.
Additionally, it's hard to fathom why Andrew Spano's fiscal wrecking crew dared lobby for more raises late last year.