"These Triple-A ratings are critical to the county because they allow us to borrow at the lowest possible rates," Astorino said, adding that the "County reserve funds have been drawn down by $51 million in the last few years."
The Republican County Executive also praised Democratic Legislators Virginia Perez (Yonkers) and Mike Kaplowitz (Somers) for reaching across the aisle to pass a compromise budget, calling them "the hottest political duo" in the county. "We're forcing the county to live within its means to make it affordable for seniors and young families to live here," Astorino noted.
In a bit of a rallying cry, Mr. Astorino slammed the Governor for not meaningfully addressing mandate relief in the State's 2013-2014 Executive Budget and called for the business community to join local governments and school districts in lobbying for real action on mandates (which make up 85% of the county budget).
"Westchester is well ahead of schedule," replied Astorino when asked about the County's HUD settlement, but showed frustration with HUD's Source of Income Requirements as "unnecessary and outside of the scope of the Federal settlement."
"The State has cleared the hurdles and has applied for long-term financing to fund the new Tappan Zee Bridge," said Astorino, when pressed for a project update. "The State does not have the money yet, but the approvals are in place. I would expect construction of the five-year project to begin as early as this Spring," he noted.
On Playland, the County Executive said that his administration had completed a two-year RFP process and decided to move forward with Sustainable Playland's proposal. "Playland has a lot of costs associated with it and is a burden to taxpayers. Our intention is to have it up and running this Spring with Sustainable Playland's new management."