County Executive Robert Astorino painted a relatively rosy picture of county finances and economic advancement during his annual State of the County Address at the Marriott Westchester in Tarrytown on Thursday, Jan. 12. Astorino referenced several wide-ranging projects and initiatives, including the updated fountain and ice-skating rink at Kensico Dam Plaza, a burgeoning partnership at the Westchester County Airport, and his recent county budget announcement that outlined no property tax increases over the prior year.
“In Westchester we are focused on reality,” said Astorino. “We have been in office for seven years and in that time we have reduced the property tax levy once and have held it flat in six consecutive budgets, all while preserving essential services and maintaining the highest credit rating of any county in New York.”
Among several housing developments ahead, Astorino noted Harbor Square in Ossining and the Pavilion redevelopment in White Plains. He also pointed to the local expansions of leading companies — such as Dannon, Regeneron, and The Westchester Medical Center — as well as a Rochester meeting with Danny Wegwan, owner of the regional supermarket chain Wegman’s, where Astorino helped broker a deal to bring a location to Harrison.
“Capitol projects are another important tool that we can use to stimulate the economy,” remarked Astorino. “Our 2017 budget calls for the county to invest $300 million and improve our county’s parks, roads, bridges, buildings, and technology infrastructure. One third, or $100 million of that, is dedicated exclusively to upgrading our parks. The key focus of that is the Kensico Dam Plaza.” He also noted the pending conversion of Westchester Country Airport to a public/private partnership, which, Astorino says, could generate revenues for the county of more than $130 million.
During his address, Astorino also took time to rally against Albany’s referendums to reconfigure services throughout the county, as well as the recent announcement that the Indian Point nuclear power plant is slated to shutter by 2021. “How are local communities to make up for the devastating loss of revenue from that plant?” asked Astorino. “The plant itself employs more than 1,000 people directly, another thousand indirectly, and many more in the local community. Indian Point’s current direct financial contribution is about $30 million. The largest share of that goes to the Henry Hudson School District, and that figure alone has potentially catastrophic consequences for that school district.”