County Executive Robert P. AstorinoDec. 13,2016 - This morning, Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino signed the $1.8 billion budget for 2017 and commended the bi-partisan coalition that passed the county budget, which once again does not raise the county tax levy. This marks the seventh year in a row that Astorino has been able to win the Board of Legislators’ approval for a budget that either decreased the tax levy or held it to no increase.

Astorino said he was also pleased that the Board unanimously approved a resolution tied to the budget that puts the public-private partnership proposed for Westchester County Airport on track for a decision this spring. The resolution calls for issuing Request for Proposals to attract outside investors who would operate the airport under a Federal Aviation Administration program that allows airport revenues to also be used for general county purposes, such as police, roads and parks, starting in 2017.

“This budget does what we set out to do: it protects taxpayers, preserves essential services and promotes economic growth,” said Astorino. “What’s critically important is that it continues to change the mindset that the only way to pay for services is through tax increases. With the public-private partnership at the airport we are showing that county assets can also be unlocked as revenue sources to help pay for services.”

The coalition vote on the budget was 10 to seven, with seven Republicans, Gordon A. Burrows, Francis T. Corcoran, David B. Gelfarb, James Maisano, Sheila Marcotte, John G. Testa and David J. Tubiolo, two Democrats, Michael B. Kaplowitz, the board’s chairman, and Virginia Perez and one Conservative, Margaret A. Cunzio, giving the spending plan more than the nine votes it needed to pass.

The BOL also approved a $300 million capital budget of which more than a third will be dedicated to improvements in the county’s parks. As part of the capital budget vote, the board said it planned to conclude its review and vote by late January or the first week in February on the County Executive’s proposal to build an outdoor ice rink at the Kensico Dam Plaza, which is designed to turn the Valhalla park into a year round destination.
Money has already been appropriated for the restoration of water-spraying fountains in the park’s reflecting pool. Prompt action is needed if the county is to save money by having construction on the fountains and the rink go forward simultaneously.

The ice rink recently received the support of the Westchester Parks Foundation.

“We strongly encourage the Board of Legislators to approve the plans set forth by County Executive Astorino for the future of Kensico Dam Plaza’s reflecting pool,” said Joanne Fernandez, chair of the Westchester Parks Foundation in a December 9 letter to the members of the Board of Legislators. “Investment in the year-round use of Kensico Dam Plaza by repairing and revitalizing the fountains as well as the installation of the equipment for an ice skating rink will provide the public with an enhanced opportunity for outdoor recreation and fitness.”