County executive discusses uptick in Covid cases, Westchester policing of villages at Rotary meeting

County Executive George Latimer

Pelham Examiner file photo

County Executive George Latimer

Editor’s note: This press release was provided by the Rotary Club of the Pelhams.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer told a meeting of the Rotary Club of the Pelhams on Wednesday (December 1st) that there has been an “uptick” in Covid-19 cases in the county but the number of active cases, hospitalizations and deaths do not indicate a crisis.

Mr. Latimer credited the high vaccination rate in the county as a factor keeping the number of active cases and deaths down. He said there are currently 60 Covid hospitalizations in the county and two-thirds of those individuals were unvaccinated. The remainder of the cases may include vaccinated individuals with underlying medical issues. He said 92% of adults in Westchester County have had at least the first dose of the Covid vaccination.

He said there are no plans for the county to mandate vaccinations but he reserves the right to do so if rates of hospitalizations and deaths require that step. Mask mandates in certain circumstances would come first before proof of vaccinations is a requirement.

Mr. Latimer said the Westchester County budget cut County tax for property owners in the last two years and the budget currently under consideration would provide a third straight tax decrease. He said the county was able to reduce taxes in part because of revenues received from the federal government and a reduction in the county workforce without a reduction in county services.

Asked if the county offers to takeover any village services to possibly relieve local tax burdens, he said the county has taken over policing in two villages by hiring the local police officers and managing the departments for a fee. The county can also takeover programs and other services under contract with villages.

Mr. Latimer was also asked to give an update on the role of the county in the refurbishment of Memorial Field in Mt. Vernon. He said the county is the “agent for getting it done.” Under construction at the field is a football field, track, 4,000 seat viewing stand and tennis courts. Mr. Latimer said the City of Mt. Vernon will manage the facility but because county money was part of the project it can be used by any resident of the county. He expects it to open with the 2022 football season. While recreational use is primarily expected, he said concerts may be staged there. Mr. Latimer said he expects the mayor of Mt. Vernon and the mayors of the villages of Pelham and Pelham Manor and county officials to discuss operational issues before the opening.

Asked about Lake Isle Dam and concerns of Eastchester and New Rochelle residents along the waters, Mr. Latimer said an engineering study is underway and he expects, state, federal and county money to be put together to do the construction work that will be needed. The County has taken leadership in pulling together the various entities.  Mr. Latimer said the water will have to be lowered while the repairs are underway over the following two years and then it will be up to Eastchester and New Rochelle to work together to maintain it.