Something good happened in Westchester last week. County government helped Northern Westchester Hospital save $6.6 million in financing costs on its $36 million plan to build new operating rooms and modernize patient care units.
The savings were produced through the county’s Local Development Corporation (LDC), which I formed in January.
Through the LDC, Northern Westchester Hospital and other not-for-profit organizations are able to access tax-exempt bonds, which lower their borrowing costs and give them more money to spend on their core missions. The best news? There is no financial risk to the county. The obligation for repaying the bonds rests solely with the not-for-profit organizations that borrow the money.
It would be nice to say this classic win-win for the people of Westchester was the result of a bipartisan effort with the Board of Legislators. In fact, it was just the opposite.
For months, I had been asking the Democrats on the BOL to support the LDC. Letters and e-mails went unanswered, as did the offer of two seats on the LDC’s board. The final straw came last week, when the Democrats–without giving the public a chance to comment–refused to even send the legislation to a committee for debate.
I was disappointed in their hyper-partisan politics, but would not be deterred. But, the outright rejection actually sped things up. The LDC’s bond counsel advised that BOL approval was not necessary to move forward. So move forward we did–without delay or hesitation–to provide critical help to one of our county’s great institutions and to provide a shot in the arm to our local economy. Northern Westchester’s operating room expansion will create hundreds of construction jobs and 30 new permanent jobs when it is completed.
Jobs, services and safeguards for taxpayers are at the heart of the LDC. This is how government works smarter. This is what working for Westchester looks like.