Westchester County Executive George Latimer took a look back at his administration’s accomplishments the last year and promised to stabilize the county’s finances in his second State of the County address delivered at the Legislative Chambers of the Board of Legislators.
Latimer touched on a myriad of topics, including Rye Playland, the County Airport, bridge strikes and expansion of the Police Advisory Board from five to nine members in the speech on Thursday night, April 11.
The budget includes a 2 percent tax increase, which is under the state tax cap, and he announced that he will be protecting his constituents through a comprehensive Property Taxpayers Protection Act, which would reportedly ensure a tax freeze in 2020 and 2021.
“We have crafted a comprehensive Property Taxpayers Protection Act that will ensure a 0 percent County tax freeze for the Fiscal Year 2020 and Fiscal Year 2021,” he said. “(We) will share as much as $40-plus million additional revenue to towns, villages, small city governments and school districts, over an annual basis; will phase out one-shot financing at budget time; begin to restore our depleted reserve funds and raise back our bond rating to AAA status over time, all for one penny on every dollar of consumer spending.”
Latimer noted that “this plan has received bi-partisan support from our town supervisors and village mayors, from our County Legislature, from the State Assembly and passage by the State Senate. Over the coming weeks, we hope to get final approvals - based on the merit of the proposal - and thereby stabilize our County finances without relying on a dime more of property taxes. This is our response to SALT.”
During his speech, Latimer discussed improvements to Playland, including a new advertising campaign and a new and improved “Coaster” mascot, in an effort to attract new business. The County will also be partnering with “The Peak” “to bring live radio broadcasts to the park and repurposing space with a new Playland Museum and a Playland Art Gallery. New food and ride options are also expected to be introduced to the public during the season.
“Let us consider Playland," he said. "I believe what most of my predecessors believed; this is the jewel of our Parks System. While there are still many unanswered questions about Playland’s governance, which we hope to resolve in the next few weeks, one thing I can tell you with total certainty is - it is going to be a great summer at the park. We are committed to improving the park’s energy and results in 2019.”
Latimer concluded his nearly two-hour speech by noting that “while we may have differences, there is even more that unites us.
“Now, it falls to you and me, to strive so that everyone can realize that opportunity. That we rise to the challenges at hand, that we find common ground - Democrats and Republicans, women and men, young, old and middle-aged, all religions, all skin colors. The greatest challenge is to give people hope, that we can rebuild trust, by accomplishing tangible things that benefit their lives. That challenge is greater than any one bill, any one budget. It is greater than any one speech, and it is greater than any one County Executive.”
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