The importance of fiscally sound budgets and public/private partnerships in promoting economic development – an issue long advocated by the Business Council of Westchester – was the focus of a highly informative presentation to BCW members by County Executive Rob Astorino who outlined his 2017 County Budget and his future vision for funding the county’s operations.
Speaking to more than 100 BCW members and guests at the KeyBank Speaker Series on Wednesday at Tappan Hill, Astorino said the old model of turning to county residents for tax increases time and again to close budget gaps was broken. Instead he said the county needs to use its assets to leverage funds. The County Executive’s comments echoed the sentiments of the BCW which has long supported a county budget that is fiscally sound, holds the line on taxes, preserves essential services and maintains the county’s excellent credit rating.
Astorino noted that this year the county’s spending plan had a $30 million budget gap, mainly created by shortfalls in sales tax and rising healthcare costs for its employees. To help close the gap, Astorino has proposed a public/private partnership that would have Oaktree Capital Management lease the County Airport for 40 years, paying the county $111 million over that time and investing another $30 million in capital improvements. The plan would free up another $20 million locked away in a fund dedicated only to the airport that could now go to the general fund to pay for other expenses.