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Do you pay your mortgage with your credit card? Do you sell a piece of jewelry to cover expenses at the end of the month? Of course not. But you know who does? Westchester County under the leadership of Rob Astorino. Rob Astorino has “branded” himself as a “no tax increase” County Executive. And that is true — he has not raised taxes. But instead of raising taxes he has used the County’s credit and is “privatizing” assets to cover the budget shortfall. That is fiscal mismanagement in my book. Here are some facts: The budget shortfall in Westchester County for 2017 was $15,000,000. A modest increase in taxes could have made up the difference. As an example a homeowner with a $20,000 property tax would pay roughly $150 a year. So for 50 cents a day, we could have no budget issues. I would sign up for that in a heartbeat. Instead, Westchester County has borrowed $15,000,000 from reserves to offset operating expenses with the expectation that Oak Tree Equities will pay it back when they take over the airport. If the deal doesn’t happen (and there are lots of questions about it), guess who pays that money back? You and me! So if you think you are avoiding taxes, guess what? You are getting a balloon mortgage coming back to bite you, with interest. This is a shell game. He’s passing the buck to the next guy. Rob Astorino wants to privatize the airport and give up control so he can continue saying that he didn’t raise your taxes. The first step in this process should have been to see if the county could have better monetized the airport. If that analysis failed to produce the desired results, then he should have created an open process to get the best deal. Instead, he suggested that we accept a deal with Oak Tree Equities without any other bidders in a completely closed process. Can you imagine a business approaching a deal of that importance and magnitude without getting multiple proposals? The County Executive has set a ridiculously fast time line to make the airport decision; faster than any timeline the FAA has ever approved. Importantly for the County Executive, the process would culminate right before his reelection. 8 Here’s the net of this. As we saw with the attempted Affordable Care Act repeal, without replacement in Washington, Republicans are great on rhetoric, bad on policy. Astorino has his own political advancement as his motivation. I have zero confidence that he has my or Westchester County’s best interests at heart in this deal or managing this county. — Mona Klein Klapper, Rye Brook


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