On January 1st swearing-in ceremonies were taking place all across the Hudson Valley. I was honored to be sworn in as part of the Yorktown ceremony at Town Hall. Supervisor Michael Grace and his running mates Dave Paganelli, Nick Bianco and Gary Raniolo, as well as sitting members Terrence Murphy and Vishnu Patel invited me to participate in Yorktown’s event. I thank them very much for the opportunity. It was particularly appropriate since due to the redistricting changes to District 1, I now represent a much larger portion of the town.
Both the day and the event were wonderful and gave me pause to look back on my first term as a Westchester County Legislator. This was my sixth time participating in such an event and each time, whether it was as a city councilman, mayor or legislator I was truly humbled by the support and enthusiasm of those in attendance. It is always a time of hope and pride to be at the start of a new term in office and to know that thousands of people put their faith in me to represent them. It is a responsibility I have always taken very seriously and keep in mind every day I serve in office.
I am proud of my first term as legislator and appreciate the opportunity given me by the citizens of Cortlandt, Peekskill and Yorktown. I pledged to work to reduce taxes and that is what we were able to do. In 2010 overall county taxes were reduced by 2.2% with even higher reductions in each of municipalities in my district. Just before Christmas the county board passed the budget for 2012 with a 0% tax increase. Combining my first two years as county legislator with my final three years as Mayor of Peekskill where we had a 0% tax increase each year means that there is an overall tax decrease for my last 5 years in office. I feel good about that, but there’s much more to do.
Reducing the tax burden cannot happen without significant reductions in spending. Over the last two years we were able to cut county spending by over $100 million and significantly downsize government. This was all done without gutting essential services, especially those for our most vulnerable residents. Jobs were saved, programs such as Arts Westchester and Cornell Cooperative Extension continue and major infrastructure projects for my district were completed and funding for others was secured.
At the start of a new year and a new term I would like to say thank you. Thank you to the citizens of District 1 who have once again given me the opportunity to serve. Together we will be able to make Westchester a great place to live.