TARRYTOWN, N.Y. - Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino preached the “3 Ps” of his administration, while remaining mum on a possible cabinet position under President Elect Donald Trump at the final Westchester Business Council Keybank Speaker Series of the year.
On Wednesday, Astorino offered a capacity crowd at Tappan Hill an insider’s look at his proposed $1.8 billion budget for 2017 that will not result in a property tax increase, while avoiding cuts.
During his address to the Business Council of Westchester (BCW), Astorino promoted his “3 Ps,” which includes protecting taxpayers; preserving essential services and promoting economic growth.
“This is a budget that says ‘yes’ to the diverse needs of Westchester by calling for no reductions in services, no tuition hike at Westchester Community College for the fourth straight year, no raiding of our reserves and no increases in taxes,” he stated. “It shows we can meet our dual commitment to providing essential services, while keeping Westchester affordable for our seniors, young people, families and businesses.”
Astorino also spoke about the proposed public-private partnership with California-based Oaktree Capital Management, which would include an initial payment of $111 million, structured so that the county will see an annual windfall of funds for the next four decades.
Calling the partnership “not radical,” Astorino said that the funds gained through the partnership would benefit “police, parks, infrastructure, daycare and social services.”
Under the agreement, Oaktree cannot add gates at the airport, and the passenger cap will remain unchanged. They will have autonomy to “reconfigure the footprint of the airport,” and improve concessions, restaurants and other amenities. Environmental safeguards are set to be put in place so they "can be good neighbors," and Oaktree will require approval from the county if they want to make any radical additions or changes.
“In the highest taxed county in America, you can’t consistently raise taxes - even just 2 percent - each year, so we had to make a U-turn,” he said. “We needed a new source of revenue, so we looked at the budget and knew that raising taxes was off the table and we didn’t want to cut services, so we needed a new stream of revenue.”
Astorino answered several questions from the crowd following his address, and concluded by cheekily brushing off rumors that Trump may tap him as the new head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“It’s crazy how life can change real quick. I don’t expect it, but I’ll certainly take the call.” he said with a laugh. “It’s crazy to be considered for a cabinet position, but there’s also something to be said when you love the job you have, you love the county you live in and can tuck your kids in at night and sleep in your own bed.