Westchester County's new County Executive George Latimer made his Pattern for Progress debut Monday, April 23 as he joined Rockland County Executive Ed Day and Putnam County Executive Mary Ellen Odell for an annual Southern County Leaders discussion. It was held in Putnam County for the first time this year.
Moderated by Pattern's President & CEO Jonathan Drapkin, the three county executives discussed some of the major issues facing the lower Hudson Valley, including high taxes, the opioid epidemic, and the need for infrastructure upgrades.
Additional questions came from audience members on topics ranging from labor contracts to tax-exempt properties to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's recent executive order restoring voting rights to paroled felons.
All three county executives agreed that high property taxes are of great concern, and the topic of shared services came up early on. Day explained that Rockland County is working on a shared services plan to save taxpayer money by encouraging greater inter-governmental cooperation.
Latimer said that in Westchester, with over 40 local governments, finding areas of cooperation is imperative, and explained that he plans to make it easier for local governments to partner with the county to deliver some public services.
Latimer also explained that Westchester is facing a budget deficit, which he is working to find ways to close. Day and Odell concurred, saying that their counties also had been in dire fiscal straits when they took office, but are now on a much firmer financial footing.
On infrastructure, Odell touted Putnam's work to build a connection to the Danbury sewer system, which will enable new commercial development along the Route 6 corridor near the Connecticut border.
The event was held at the Putnam County Golf Course in Mahopac in front of a capacity 150 attendees from throughout the Hudson Valley.
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