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In Westchester, even leaky roofs are political
In Westchester County, even leaky roofs are political.
On Monday, County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, vetoed legislation backed by Democratic legislators that would fix the roof at the Department of Emergency Services Training Center in Valhalla.
Astorino wants the roof replaced, a job he estimated would cost around $640,000. Pools of water collect in the training center after storms, creating safety hazards, the county executive said in a statement.
But the Democrats' legislation, which was passed on Nov. 15, would pay to repair the roof using reserve funds, which Astorino said is against the law. Instead, he said, the county has to pay for the work by issuing bonds.
“It is hard to imagine an issue more deserving of bipartisan support than putting a roof over the heads of local firefighters, first responders and members of our Emergency Services Department,” Astorino said in a statement. “But the record of the Democrats has been to delay and obstruct. It does no good to pass a law that can’t be carried out.”
Legis. Peter Harckham (D-Katonah) said Astorino’s version of the roof dispute was deceptive.
In October, Astorino submitted a bond proposal to the board to pay for the roof, Harckham said, but his proposal didn’t include considering solar panels in the project. County law calls for roof replacements to include assessments as to whether they should include solar panels -- a rule designed to ensure the county supports sustainable energy, he said.
Without authority to issue bonds, the Democrats wanted to expedite the process. They argue that the law doesn’t require the county to incur debt to pay for the new roof, Harckham said.
“Some people can’t take yes for an answer,” Harckham said. “Here’s a clear path to get it done. Let’s use existing money and get it done.”