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Rob Astorino: No new taxes in 2014
Amid the hubbub last week about Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s dispute with the Department of Housing and Urban Development over affordable housing, it was easy to miss the other news in his State of the County address.
In the Tuesday speech in the county courthouse, Astorino pledged to submit a 2014 budget later this year that won’t contain tax increases.
The Republican county executive has lowered property taxes by 2 percent since he took office. Last year, he bridged an $85 million shortfall through borrowing, laying off workers and cutting spending. The county likely will face another shortfall next year, given how costs in New York keep rising.
Astorino also said he was working with utilities to discuss how to improve storm preparedness with an eye toward avoiding the problems that arose when superstorm Sandy last year knocked out power for 200,000 homes and businesses in Westchester County.
“I personally met with [Con Edison CEO] Kevin Burke in his office to outline a set of post-storm proposals and recommendations,” he said. “These specific steps and other improvements will be outlined at a press conference with Con Edison in the coming weeks.”
The county executive also said he would hook up Westchester County Airport to a natural gas line by November to give tenants in the struggling airport a source of cheaper power.
He also wants to pave the way for natural gas pipeline to extend to the county’s Material Recovery Facility in Yonkers, the site of a potential compressed natural gas, or CNG, filling station. Once a filling station is up and running, municipalities that have expressed an interest in CNG-fueled trucks could use it to fuel an affordable fleet of vehicles, he said.
Lastly, Astorino said he’d start a new program this Tuesday with the Food Bank of Westchester and Rock and Wrap It Up, another nonprofit organization, that will collect spare food from restaurants and other sources to help feed the hungry. Late next month, the program is slated to be expanded to move food waste compost from a county recycling facility to local gardens run by the Food Bank of Westchester.
Taxes. Emergency preparedness. Energy. Food.
Sounds more like a speech by a guy running for re-election as governor, not county executive, in November. Maybe he was just practicing with future prospects in mind.