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New Abinanti-Sponsored Law Opens Valve For Clean Water Projects

Assemblyman Tom Abinanti sponsored a new state law that authorizes Westchester County to bond sewer and water capital projects more than $10 million without the need for a referendum.
Assemblyman Tom Abinanti sponsored a new state law that authorizes Westchester County to bond sewer and water capital projects more than $10 million without the need for a referendum. Photo Credit: File

A new state law, sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Abinanti (D-Greenburgh/Mount Pleasant) and Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers), authorizes Westchester County to bond sewer and water capital projects more than $10 million without the need for a referendum.

Under the previous State Local Finance Law, Westchester was the only county in the state required to conduct a public referendum on capital bonding more than $10 million.

The new law continues the requirement that the Westchester Board of Legislators hold a public hearing before authorizing bonding.

“Capital projects that protect clean water are critical to the health and safety of Westchester residents,” said Abinanti. “Westchester should not be the only county in the state required to face the cost and delay of a county-wide referendum before financing these vital projects. The new law is designed to remove a significant impediment to the county’s improving its water and sewer infrastructure before it badly deteriorates and requires even more costly replacements."

Prior law permitted bonding in excess of $10 million without referendum in limited circumstances. Thus, expensive improvements were often delayed until deterioration was so bad that the state ordered the county to make the repairs – which the county bonded without a referendum. The State Department of Health supported the Abinanti bill. The new law takes effect immediately.

“The referendum requirement threatened the county’s ability to make capital improvements to maintain its water and sewer systems,” said Abinanti. “The new law strikes the right balance – public input at a public hearing without the delay and cost of a referendum.”

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