Westchester County Executive George Latimer met with Rockland County Executive Ed Day last week in New City to find common ground and establish a working relationship going forward.
During a press conference after a two-hour meeting, Latimer and Day said they had met to discuss shared challenges.
“This is about governing and governing well,” said Latimer. “This is about finding common ground and figuring out how we can do something that benefits both of our counties. Most people aren’t concerned with governmental jurisdictions, they just want a better life and we want to both try to provide that together.”
Both county executives agreed that commonalities can be found among all the counties in the lower Hudson Valley.
“We have one purpose here, the purpose we have here is to serve the people of our communities,” said Day, who had previously worked with former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino. “The other purpose we have is to work together as best we can to ensure that we are a contributing part of the lower Hudson Valley and that we do our utmost to work well for our home counties and find commonality.”
Topics addressed in the meeting included bridge tolls, the express bus routes, shared services, state mandates and raise the age legislation.
Latimer acknowledged that one of the first issues to tackle jointly is raise the age legislation that Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed as part of the New York State FY 2018 budget. The new law raises the age of criminal responsibility in New York to 18-years-old. This will require residences that are not jails for young people aged 16 and 17, who previously were treated as adults in the state. By working together across counties, money can be saved by finding places for these youth, Latimer explained.
Bus service and other commutes across the Hudson River were also discussed.
When asked what message the county executives might have for Washington, DC, Day said, “They should stop acting like children.” For Albany, “stop giving us mandates,” he said.
“Washington is dealing the cards and we have to find ways to handle what we’re dealt cooperatively,” Latimer said.
In terms of competition between counties when it comes to situations like attracting Amazon.com to locate its second headquarters in the region, both Latimer and Day agreed that the best approach is with regional thinking. When a large corporation comes to the area, all counties benefit, they agreed.
Latimer and Day will be traveling to Albany together for the NYSAC (New York State Association of Counties) Conference on Tuesday, Jan. 30.