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Kaplowitz: Property Taxes Down in New Castle

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. - County Legislator Mike Kaplowitz (D-Somers) visited the New Castle Town Board on Tuesday night to echo County Executive Rob Astorino's statements about keeping taxes down in the State of the County speech on April 25.

"We voted for a zero percent tax increase, or zero percent tax decrease depending on how you want to look at it," Kaplowitz said. "For the first time in quite some time, the good news is that the New Castle county portion went down."

According to Kaplowitz, New Castle's portion of the county's tax levy bill reduced by 3.15 percent in 2011. He said the news is in contrast to the previous year, when total county taxes reduced by 2.2 percent but New Castle's contribution increased.

"Generally, property taxes in New Castle, relative to other communities, have done better. That’s the good news," Kaplowitz said. "And unfortunately you pay a little more in tax for that. This past year we finally did see a reduction."

Kaplowitz told the board that town and village contributions are unpredictable, but the county anticipates once again presenting a zero percent tax increase for the following fiscal year in November. He believes Westchester is in good financial shape, unlike other counties throughout New York.

"You need only look over the rickety Tappan Zee Bridge to our neighbors to the west," Kaplowitz said. "Rockland County is in terrible financial shape. They’re looking to raise sales tax just to raise money to get themselves out of an expected $80 million deficit."

Kaplowitz also offered an update on the Reproductive Health Care Facility Clinic Access Bill, which was passed by the Board of Legislators on Monday night. The bill bars protesters from harassing or engaging patients at reproductive health care facilities within 25 feet.

"We voted (Monday) after much public discussion and, frankly, a very adult, heated conversation on both sides," Kaplowitz said. "We have no right to trample upon and we value freedom of speech for sure, but it balances. We did our best to get it right."

Despite being passed by the legislators, the bill is not veto-protected and Kaplowitz does not anticipate it will be signed by Astorino.

"We had a good heated discussion on it, in the end it’s kind of like a bicycle that stays in place," Kaplowitz said. "It really isn’t going to be enacted."

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