FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 9, 2013
Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-815-4462 (cell)
Westchester Legislators Chairman Jenkins and Democratic Caucus Members Strongly Urge Astorino to Introduce and Promote
Source of Income Legislation
“A final plea to do the right thing for Westchester before it’s too late”
White Plains, NY – Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) and members of the BOL Democratic caucus strongly urged County Executive Rob Astorino to introduce and promote Source of Income (SOI) legislation as soon as possible so it can be fast-tracked for consideration and approval.
“…(I)n light of the April 5, 2013 decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and in an effort to bring the County into compliance with the Settlement, I, on behalf of the BOL, request that you immediately comply with Resolution No. 78-2012 by submitting your version of Source of Income legislation to the (Board of Legislators),” wrote Jenkins in a letter delivered to Astorino today. “Following your submission of such legislation, the (Board of Legislators) will take all necessary action to consider and enact Source of Income legislation, and take all action necessary to comply with the Settlement in an effort to avoid costly monetary sanctions against the County for continued noncompliance with the terms of the Settlement.”
In its impasse with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regarding non-compliance with the stipulations of the 2009 housing settlement, Astorino has been urged to promote SOI legislation, after vetoing the bill when it was first approved by the BOL in 2010. Afterwards, Astorino refused to introduce a new SOI bill until being ordered to do so by a Federal judge. But even then, he simply asked the BOL to reintroduce the SOI bill he’d already vetoed—and which was no longer valid, as a new legislative term has begun, rendering past bills that were unmoved or unapproved “dead.”
“The Federal court has ruled that the County Executive’s actions violated the County’s Housing consent decree and now has put over seven million dollars of community block grants at risk, money that has already been spent by the communities on various projects,” said Jenkins. “If this money is lost, the local taxpayers will have to pay these bills instead. My letter today to the County Executive is a final plea to do the right thing for Westchester before it’s too late.”
Jenkins also noted that Astorino knew that the prior legislation needed to be re-written anyway, as much of it dealt with the Section 8 housing plan run by the County, which the County Executive had dismantled over the BOL’s objections.
In September 2012, the BOL passed Resolution 78-2012 that directed the County Executive to submit new SOI legislation to the BOL, which, of course, Astorino chose to ignore. Acting State Supreme Court Justice Barry Warhit, in a ruling on February 25, 2013, reaffirmed the County Charter’s direction that “the County Executive is duty bound to ‘see that the laws of the state, pertaining to the affairs and government of the county, the acts and resolutions of the County Board and duly enacted local laws are executed and enforced within the county.”
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has notified that Westchester County stands to lose $7.4 million in Community Development Block Grant funds if the SOI legislation is not promoted and the County still held in non-compliance of the housing settlement on April 25, 2013.
Noting that three current Republican legislators did not vote for the SOI legislation when it received BOL approval in 2010, BOL Majority Leader Pete Harckham said, “Now, we need everybody on board with this effort to signal that we are seriously moving forward and achieving compliance in the settlement. Because the legislation goes a long way toward helping single mothers find affordable housing for their children, I’m hoping that the County Executive and my Republican colleagues on the Board of Legislators will work assiduously to get this bill passed and signed.”
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