County Executive Rob Astorino’s push to close mental health clinics is “heartless” and “premature,” say some Democrats on the Board of Legislators.
In the latest battle between branches, lawmakers accused Astorino of being overzealous in closing four mental health clinics, so they have a message for him: cease and desist until they sign-off on a budget.
“If someone doesn’t get the support they need, that could be dangerous to the people of Westchester,” said Chairman Ken Jenkins, D-Yonkers. “They need to stop until we get through this process.”
In a mostly partisan vote Monday, the Board of Legislators, by a 10-6 vote with one Democrat against it, passed a nonbinding resolution calling on the administration to stop moving on the closure of four mental health clinics until the board passes a budget, which is scheduled for Dec. 13.
Critics say Astorino has no real transition plan and is simply cutting ties with a fragile population.
Astorino in November proposed a $1.78 billion budget with deep cuts to programs, services and staffing, including shuttering two mental health clinics in Peekskill and Mount Kisco by Dec. 31 and two others in Yonkers and Mount Vernon by June.
Since then, the administration has sent out letters to 1,600 patients notifying them of the closures and started lining up not-for-profits to take over operations, which include counseling, therapy and caseload management for people with alcohol and substance abuse problems and developmental disabilities.
The board’s resolution is nonbinding and not helpful, said Ned McCormack, Astorino’s senior adviser and communications director.
“All this does is create a lot of confusion for patients, the workers and non-profits. It’s not helpful to any of the people involved,” he said. “They have no legal authority to direct the county executive to do anything.”
Read more on this story tomorrow in The Journal News.