Although overall county spending is still too high and the level of some projected revenues is no more than wishful thinking, the Westchester County’s overall tax rate for 2011 will be cut for the first time in decades!
The overall -2.2% tax reduction is the result of a year’s worth of pressure by County Executive Astorino and the insistence by Republican legislators to change the way county government operates. After 12 years of unrelenting increases in spending and ever expanding programs, it’s long past the time to change the attitudes, costs and how county government does its job. We still have a long way to go.
Due to inconsistent NY State equalization rates and varying assessment throughout the county, the county tax rate is different for each community. Although a few will see an increase in their tax rate, most will experience a reduction.
The municipalities I represent in District 1 will all see a significant reduction in their county tax bills this year. According to the Westchester County Tax Commission, the City of Peekskill will have a -5.91% tax reduction, the Town of Cortlandt -2.26% and Yorktown -2.98%.
There is still much to be done. Spending is still too high. The Democratic supermajority restored $32 million in spending to the 2011 budget by overriding County Executive Astorino’s vetoes. Lawsuits have been initiated by the Democratic legislators to stop the county executive from streamlining the workforce and eliminating expensive, unnecessary contracts.
Rest assured, my colleagues and I in the Republican caucus will continue to work with County Executive Astorino to further the right sizing of county government and bring relief to the hard working families of Westchester.
We have done much in just one year’s time. Image where we will be as we continue to push for policies that make sense for the residents of Westchester. You can count on me to do just that.
About John G. Testa
Former District 1 County Legislator, John G. Testa is served five terms at the Westchester County Board of Legislators, spending the last 3 terms as BOL Minority Leader.
John G. Testa is a lifelong resident of Peekskill who first entered elected public service as a member of the Peekskill Common Council in 1998 and then served three terms as Mayor. He previously served on the Conservation and Parks Advisory Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. John became an elected official eager to improve the City in which his family has lived for more than a century and quickly earned a reputation as a strong, independent, nonpartisan voice for fiscal responsibility.
John received a BS degree in Technology from SUNY Oswego, where his academic achievements gained him induction into Epsilon Pi Tau, the International Honorary Fraternity of Technology. He earned his MS degree in Technology from the City College of New York. He began his teaching career in 1980 at Peekskill High School, his alma mater, as an instructor in Technology and Social Studies, retiring in 2013 after 33 years teaching.
John has been a leader in support for the Arts Community in Westchester. He presided over the construction of the Peekskill Art Lofts, the establishment of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, and the complete restoration of the Paramount Center for the Arts, originally a 1930’s movie house and helped bring critical funding to many Westchester programs. Legislator Testa received the “Advancing the Arts in Westchester Award” by ArtsWestchester.
John has a been a leader on environmental issues for two decades and has a long record of initiatives he has supported and spearheaded. His active involvement in developing and promoting environmentally friendly policies began as mayor and continued throughout his time as Westchester County Legislator. His efforts consistently earned John the endorsement of the NY League of Conservation Voters.
John’s most recognizable accomplishment has been his promotion and preservation of local history and historic landmarks, bringing an unprecedented focus on the region’s rich history, and its legacy of historic Victorian architecture. His roots in historical preservation stem from his experience as a Revolutionary War re-enactor and member of The Brigade of the American Revolution for 50 years.
John was instrumental in securing the preservation of the Lincoln Depot, now the Lincoln Depot Museum, where he now serves as President. The museum was recognized in 2015 as one of The Best Museums in Westchester. He also secured the preservation of historic Fort Hill as parkland, a 40-acre parcel that was originally a Revolutionary War encampment site. Under his leadership, the United States Dept. of the Interior declared Peekskill a “Preserve America Community.”
John was able to establish a record number of National Register designations of local structures, including the first Downtown and Neighborhood Historic Districts and supported the preservation of the historic Miller House in North White Plains. In 2017 John was named a “Champion of History” by the Lincoln Society in Peekskill.
John and his wife of 37 years, Nancy, live in Peekskill and have two adult children, John, Jr. (fiancé Courtney Kelly) and Katy (husband Mike Mearon). John and Nancy recently welcomed the arrival of their first grandchild, Lacey Mae, in 2019.
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Dear Mr. Testa,
What good will it do us tax payers if the county reduces taxes by 2.2 percent and our
local towns increase taxes by 4 or 5 percent? Also increases its spending each year?
Will will tax payers ever catch a break here in westchester? People are being forced
out of their own homes due to out of control taxes and spending.
As I did previously as mayor and now as a county legislator I will do what I can to support taxpayers at the level of government I have influence. I understand your frustration with local taxes. It shows how important local elections are and how apathy can result in election results that are not in the best interest of those who pay the bills. Elections have consequences, both positive and negative. It is critical that the right people get elected, no matter what party they belong to.