County employees jeer Astorino's 'sinister' budget cuts

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino announces the 2013

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino announces the 2013 county budget during a news conference in White Plains. (Nov. 14, 2012) (Credit: Faye Murman)

Hundreds turned up for the last of three public hearings on Westchester County's budget Wednesday night, and the meeting went much like the two that preceded it, with union members and county employees protesting County Executive Rob Astorino's proposed cuts.

Astorino's proposed $1.7 billion budget features 126 layoffs and program cuts to cover an $85 million budget gap.

In addition to cutting positions, Astorino's budget would trim services and decrease county subsidies.

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Christopher Morris, a county employee, said he showed up to the meeting to protest changes that would require county employees to start paying part of their insurance costs.

"I'm worried because there's actually a lot of people who can't afford the top-rate insurance," Morris told News12.

Astorino has said the cuts are necessary because the county's largest union, the CSEA, won't compromise by agreeing to have its members pay only part of their health insurance costs.

"At the average cost of $110,000 for these workers, with benefits and free health care, we can't afford it anymore," Astorino said.

The Democratic-controlled county Legislature likely will vote on Astorino's proposed budget next week. County Democrats could restore some of the funding, but Astorino can veto those changes.

Bill Graf, a county employee and CSEA member, told News12 he believes Astorino's budget plan is sinister.

"He's basically trying to get rid of all of us," Graf said.

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