Ask Astorino CortlandtJan. 26, 2017 - Approximately 500 county residents attended Wednesday’s “Ask Astorino” at Cortlandt Town Hall on Wednesday to ask County Executive Robert P. Astorino about county-related issues affecting them, including the state’s plan to close Indian Point by 2021.

“Good government is about efficiently meeting the needs of the taxpayers,” Astorino said. “The best way to understand those needs is to stay engaged, show up and have a dialogue. That’s what ‘Ask Astorino’ Town Halls are all about.”

Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi, who hosted the county executive, said Indian Point was understandably the major topic of discussion.

“Residents in our community are very concerned about possible tax increases, loss of jobs, safety and security of the site, impact to local businesses, the environment, spent fuel rods left behind once closed and the re-use of the property, if possible.  We also have these questions and need answers from the State and from Entergy.  We appreciate the County Executive’s support in dealing with these serious issues,” Puglisi said.

While Astorino also answered questions on his seven-year record without a tax increase, unfunded state mandates, the gun show, the president, the affordable housing settlement, the development of the North 60 BioTechnology Center and plans to revitalize Kensico Dam Plaza, most residents were concerned about the catastrophic impact locally from the state’s plan to close Indian Point.

Through Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreements with the county as well as the Village of Buchanan, the Town of Cortlandt, and the Hendrick Hudson School District, Indian Point would have provided more than $125 million in tax revenue. Under the governor’s agreement, $72 million of that revenue will be lost. For the school district, the Indian Point PILOT is 36 percent of its tax revenue; for Buchanan, it’s 62 percent.

Additionally, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute’s 2015 report, Indian Point generates $1.3 billion in economic output locally, including 1,000 jobs at the plant and an additional 2,800 supported local jobs. Studies by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and Riverkeeper in 2011 determined that electric rates will increase when Indian Point closes; and in addition, the recent $2 state surcharge for rate payers to subsidize three upstate nuclear power plants will make Westchester’s rates the highest in the country (the ConEd region is currently second behind Hawaii).

Indian Point generates 2,000 megawatts, supplying approximately 25 percent of the power needs in Westchester and New York City.

Under the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s de-commissioning program, spent nuclear fuel will likely be stored at the Indian Point property for the next 60 years. New York State has dedicated only $15 million to address the financial impact locally.

Astorino said the county, school and local governments are going to develop a plan to mitigate against the closing of Indian Point, with or without the state’s help.

“We are going to take the bull by the horns and control our own destiny. We are not going to rely on the state because none of us think the state will do anything constructive,” Astorino said.

County Legislator John Testa (R-Peekskill) said the “Ask Astorino” forum gave local residents an outlet to voice their concerns over the closing of Indian Point.

“When it comes to the Indian Point issue, County Executive Astorino has been consistent in demanding Westchester have a seat at the table,” Testa said. “By holding these town hall events, he makes sure the taxpayers have their seat at that table as well.” 

Astorino began the town hall series in 2012. The Cortlandt forum was the first “Ask Astorino” of 2017.