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New Westchester Budget Could Mean Paying More For Ride Shares, Airbnb

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – New York State's comptroller says Westchester is facing "significant fiscal stress."

County executive George Latimer is therefore moving carefully to close a big budget deficit. It could eventually mean New Yorkers pay more to take a ride-share or book with Airbnb.

The proposed 2019 budget would also mean an average Westchester homeowner pays about $80 more on their county tax bill.

"Supposedly it's below the state cap," one local resident told CBS2's Tony Aiello.

Latimer says the cap formula allowed a tax hike of five percent - he went for two percent - necessary to wipe out the county's red ink.

"The budget deficit is $60 million as we begin the process," Latimer said.

A big part of the $60 million deficit is back pay and raises for county workers, who ratified a new contract last month, after seven years without one.

The county executive added he's moving carefully, citing concern about how the 2017 tax bill signed by President Trump will impact county residents who can no longer deduct the full amount of state and local taxes when they file next April.

For years, tax payments from property owners have made up the bulk of the money the county takes in. That is now changing.

In Latimer's $1.9 billion proposed budget, sales tax revenue exceeds property tax money for the first time.

Latimer says, going forward, the county will focus on finding "a steady stream of non-property tax revenue."

That could mean surcharges on Uber and Lyft rides, new fees to book Airbnb or other home shares in Westchester, and expanded taxes on internet sales.

"We'd look for alternate additional means of revenue to try to reduce the pressure on the property tax payer to provide the services we're required to provide, many of which are not just property based services but are societal services as well," the executive explained.

Latimer's budget is now in the hands of the county legislature for possible amendments and final approval.

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