Following up on the release of County Executive Rob Astorino’s budget proposal last Friday, the department heads have been presenting more details on their individual spending plans to the Westchester Board of Legislators.
The Parks Department, which drew a lot of attention last year when cuts were proposed to nature center curators and other programs, went in on Thursday and presented a budget with a small drop in spending but a small staff increase.
The proposed budget of just over $48 million—less than 3 percent of the county budget—would use $16 million in taxpayer support, up by $3.4 million. That means 67 percent of the budget is covered by revenue from golf, Playland, facilities rentals and other departmental revenue, well above the national average of 23 percent, according to officials.
The levy is up because of a drop in revenues after Superstorm Sandy, which damaged the Ice Casino at Playland. (It’s expected to reopen this spring.) Golf revenue has also been down because of bad weather so they are budgeting more conservatively for next year, Parks Commissioner Kathleen O’Connor told the Board of Legislators’ Budget Committee.
“We want something achievable and we want to be prudent,” she said.
The budget includes 254 year-round positions, up from 250. Four laborers that were eliminated in last year’s budget were added back during the year and are being put back as permanent positions.
The department is prepared to run Playland next year in case a deal is not finalized with Sustainable Playland, a non-profit chosen by the administration to take over the amusement park, beach, Ice Casino and other parts of the park.