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Groups Protest County Executive's Proposed 2011 Budget Cuts
One day after Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino released his proposed budget for 2011, at least two groups are coming forward protesting proposed cuts to their facilities.
The spending plan does away with $1.9 million in subsidies to three neighborhood health centers funded by the County, Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Center, Hudson River HealthCare and Open Door Family Medical Center in Ossining.
Open Door's President and CEO Lindsay Farrell was disturbed to learn of the funding cuts to her organization through the news media. Said Farrell, "I'm so angry, I'm aghast. I've worked with three County Executives and we've always had our challenges and the funds have been cut and then we get them back up, but this is the first time they've been elminated." She went on to add, "We had our suspicions that cuts would be made, but don't understand why the County Health Department or the County Executive didn't reach out to us to give us the heads-up."
In renewing the effort to eliminate the subsidies to the three groups, Astorino noted that the Federal Health Care Reform Bill will give the centers a new stream of revenue. Farrell disputed that, saying the Federal Health Care Reform Bill is not guaranteed and could be reformed and repealed even before it's enacted.
In addition to plans to end subsidies to Open Door and two neighborhood health centers, the County is also proposing a $200,000 cut in funding to Hilltop Hanover Farm in Yorktown.
It's a move that is expected to result in the elimination of half the permanent workforce at Hilltop Hanover, all of its seasonal staff and 100% of its operating budget, according to the group, Friends of Hilltop Hanover Farm Inc.
The group says it has been working with the County over the past few months to find creative solutions to ensure the Farm's long-term sustainability over a period of five years. but now, it's accusing the County of "crippling" those efforts in what it's calling a "Clear move to close the gates of the farm forever."
The group is mounting a phone and email protest designed to urge the County Executive to re-consider and County Legislators to reinstate Hilltop Hanover Farm's funding.
The Board of Legislators must have a spending plan in place by December 31.
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