Astorino Blasts Cuomo, Touts Own Record in WCA Address
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino last week derided Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s key initiatives in the traveling State of the State addresses as “fake news” for being unrealistic or lacking detail while touting his accomplishments in office.
Astorino, speaking last Thursday at the Westchester County Association’s annual county executive breakfast in Tarrytown, invoked the now often used label to describe Cuomo’s calls for demanding that counties and municipalities cut taxes, for announcing the closure of Indian Point in 2021 without a revenue or energy replacement plan and promising free public college for middle and lower income families.
While Cuomo has failed to cut mandates during his tenure as governor, Astorino said he cut taxes 2 percent his first year and has maintained a flat tax rate for the past six years.
“We’ve done it the old-fashioned way, just like you’re doing – managing within our means,” Astorino told several hundred business leaders. “It’s not always easy. Trust me, the calls for more spending by special interests are always there, as well as the unfunded mandates that are always there, as well as the new ones Albany is always sending our way.”
He said $4 billion in taxes are sent to Albany annually from Westchester taxpayers who receive only $1 billion in aid in return. Meanwhile, 77 cents out of every dollar on the property tax goes upstate to pay for the state’s unfunded mandates, Astorino said.
The county executive saved his strongest comments for Cuomo’s critiques of local and county governments spending too much money and for his sudden plan to shut Indian Point within four years.
“To correct this inequity, the governor is pretending that Westchester is the problem, that all the local communities are the problem,” said Astorino, widely believed to be seeking a rematch against Cuomo in next year’s gubernatorial race. “The solution is to sock it to the middle class.
“Here’s where it gets a little weird. Without any authority, the governor is demanding that I and other elected officials go in a room, make up a plan to cut services and then force residents to keep on voting for that plan until they pass it.”
Astorino blasted the governor for his secretive deal with Entergy and Riverkeeper to shut Indian Point.
He said there has been no plan offered to replace the electricity to Westchester and New York City or the tax dollars that could be lost to the host communities of the Town of Cortlant, the Village of Buchanan, the Hendrick Hudson School District and the county.
Cortlandt stands to lose an estimated $1 million in annual revenue, Buchanan $2.6 million, Hendrick Hudson $23 million and the county more than $3 million, Astorino said.
Indian Point has shown to be one of the safest and most reliable energy sources in the United States, he said. Without it 1,000 jobs are in jeopardy, another roughly 1,000 ancillary workers will be affected, taxes will skyrocket in the host communities and there could be energy shortages, Astorino warned.
“Electricity to 10 million people is at stake,” he said. “You’re going to need real power transmission, not power point presentations. New York and the whole metropolitan area may be subject to brownouts and rationing like a Third World country.”
Astorino mentioned that development has been strong in Westchester, boosting the county’s coffers. He promised to get personally involved to help promote business in the county, if that would help.
Various government initiatives are being planned that will also improve the quality of life and generate revenue, including the proposed lease of Westchester County Airport to a private concern, the proposed ice skating facility and fountains at Kensico Dam Plaza and Playland. A lawsuit by the City of Rye is the only hurdle preventing that privatization to continue, he said.
Astorino said that with the affordable housing settlement behind the county, he looks forward to working with the Trump Administration. Westchester will have an ally with Donald Trump in the White House, particularly in stopping what Astorino has consistently described as an overreaching federal government.
“I’m very optimistic that local control of zoning will be preserved and we will win this year-long battle that has gone on since 2009, and he will be a friend to us,” he said.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/