The Gov. Andrew Cuomo-led state Democratic Committee is out with a new advertisement knocking Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino for the county’s high property taxes, pinning the blame on the Republican gubernatorial hopeful.
The 30-second ad, which began airing Thursday, knocks Astorino for Westchester paying the highest property taxes in the nation, while accusing him of breaking a campaign promise to cut property taxes by 20 percent.
“When he ran for Westchester County executive, he promised to cut property taxes 20 percent,” the narrator says. “Then, he broke his word and vetoed a property-tax cut.”
Astorino did make a campaign promise to cut Westchester’s property-tax levy by 20 percent. But that promise came during his 2005 campaign — when he lost to Democrat Andy Spano. Astorino wasn’t successful until 2009, when he defeated Spano in a rematch.
Census data and various reports have shown Westchester County does pay the most in property taxes in terms of pure dollars — not percentage of home value — with a median price tag of $10,000 annually per household.
In a statement, Astorino campaign spokeswoman Jessica Proud said Westchester property-tax bills are high because of state-mandated costs. Astorino has cut the size of the Westchester budget, while the county’s property-tax levy had dropped under his watch, Proud said. (Previously, we examined Astorino’s claim that he cut the tax levy more than any other county.)
“In Westchester County today, 85 cents of every tax dollar goes to pay for Mr. Cuomo’s mandates,” Proud said. “In other places, like Rockland County, that percentage exceeds 100%. So when Governor Cuomo talks about high property taxes, he is talking about his own record, except, of course, in paying his own fair share of taxes in the Town of New Castle.”
The Astorino Truth Squad, a group aligned with both state and Westchester Democrats and dedicated to attacking Astorino’s record, pushed back against Proud’s statement, citing comments from Astorino’s 2005 campaign in which he accused Spano of unfairly blaming Albany mandates for Westchester’s own problems.
You can watch the new anti-Astorino ad below. Cuomo’s re-election campaign also released a pair of ads of its own; one touting his work with veterans, another touting the state’s cleanup efforts after Superstorm Sandy.