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Nov 30 - More than 31,000 residents were on the line Wednesday night to join County Executive Robert P. Astorino for his fifth tele-town hall. Over the course of the town hall, which ran from 7 to 8 p.m., Astorino and constituents discussed a wide range of topics that included the 2013 proposed budget, Playland, day care, Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath, the federal housing settlement, health care, unfunded mandates and more.
"One of the challenges we have in government is keeping residents informed," Astorino said. "I really enjoy these tele-town halls because they reach a lot of people but we can also talk to people one-on-one and answer their specific questions."
The proposed budget was a key topic as Astorino talked about the tough balance of delivering services while not raising taxes for the third year in a row.
There was time for lighter conversation as well. Astorino asked each of the 16 callers during the hour what their favorite band was. Responses included Sinatra, Springsteen, Glen Miller, ACDC, and even Justin Bieber.
Those who participated were either randomly called moments before the start of the event or they themselves called in directly to a phone number that had been widely publicized. The average time on the line of each caller was 12 minutes. The industry standard is 8 minutes. Others participated via Facebook and Twitter. The recording of the tele-town hall is featured under the Featured Video in the right-hand column of this page.
In addition, approximately 1,000 listeners responded to a poll question on the topic, "Do you think all county employees should pay a portion of the cost of their health care benefits?" 91 percent said yes; nine percent said no.