Westchester County Executive George Latimer exuded optimism and enthusiasm in his second State of the County speech, pointing to a balanced budget, impressive park system and
Latimer also promised a property tax freeze for the next two fiscal years and more revenue-sharing with towns.
Latimer delivered his second annual address on April 11 to a capacity audience in the Legislative Chambers of the Board of Legislators in White Plains.
"Here in Westchester County we take care of each other. We do not turn our backs on our brothers and sisters," Latimer said. "Over these past 12 months, since I last stood before you, I have signed many bills and executive orders to help the people of this County have a better life, and to help their children have better lives."
The Rye Democrat's first budget stayed below Westchester’s property tax cap. Latimer said his administration crafted a comprehensive "Property Taxpayers Protection Act" to ensure no increases in the property tax rate for Fiscal Year 2020 and Fiscal Year 2021.
Latimer also said the county will share as much as $40 million additional revenue with towns, villages, small city governments and school districts, over an annual basis; will phase out one-shot financing at budget time; begin to restore depleted reserve funds and restore the county's AAA bond rating status over time.
“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," Latimer said "Over the coming weeks, we hope to get final approvals . . . and thereby stabilize our county finances without relying on a dime more of property taxes."
While discussing the future of Playland, Latimer previewed the County’s new advertising campaign and introduced a new and improved mascot called “Coaster." Latimer also said the County will be partnering with “The Peak” to bring live radio broadcasts to the park. Upgrades include an expanded museum and art gallery.
"This is the jewel of our park system,'' Latimer said. "This summer you will have a clean and safe park with new rides and new food options."
Latimer continued: "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 closed with a challenge for everyone to understand 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.”
Latimer's full speech can be found online by clicking here: