Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 382

ann2016Dear neighbor, Here is the 382nd installment of Decoding Village Agendas to keep Croton residents informed of the actions of the Village Board at their meetings.  I continue to add recipients to this email update on agendas so you may be receiving it for the first time. I enjoy getting your feedback and hope to continue to hear from you.  If you do not wish to receive these periodic email updates from me, please reply to this email and your name will be removed from the email list.

Ann Gallelli

 

 

 

Decoding Village Agendas –  October 16, 2017

Regular Meeting of the Village Board

8:00 pm

 (Open to Public  – Televised)

 

PRESENTATIONS/OTHER.  The Village Board to review the EAF Part II and the Village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program policies to determine consistency with regard the special use permit request for an expansion of an existing garden center and new showroom at 1360 Albany Post Road.  As Lead Agency under SEQRA, the Board must make its own findings regarding the proposal’s consistency with our LWRP.

 

CORRESPONDENCE:

 

  • Dan Ahouse, Area Director of Government Affairs, Altice; re: Notification that as of October 24, 2017 channels CTC on 1186 and TeleKlub on 1188 will be removed. In addition, beginning on September 29, 2017 Optimum will be launching New York 1 on channel 98. 

 

This letter, and the one below, are required notifications from our cable franchise regarding changes in their television line up and product charges..

    1. Dan Ahouse, Area Director of Government Affairs, Altice; re: Notification that as of November 1, 2017 there will be a price adjustment to select video products for certain residential customers.

 

  • Karen Timko, Director of Environmental Compliance and Services, Metro North; re: Metro North’s project to replace all 168 HPS high mast lighting fixtures in the train yard with LED fixtures.   MN will be converting its high pressure sodium lights in their yards at the Croton railroad station to LED fixtures.  There are 168 fixtures.  The project is in design and will reduce energy consumption and light pollution in the surrounding area.

 

PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS:

 

  •  The Village Board of Trustees schedules a Public Hearing on November 20, 2017     at 8PM in the meeting room of the Stanley H Kellerhouse Municipal Building to consider the special use permit request for an expansion of an existing garden center and new showroom at 1360 Albany Post Road.   The public hearing is on a new proposed building at the location of the current Croton Country Gardens.
  • The Village Board considers issuing the EAF Part 3 Determination of Significance attached hereto, and adopting a Negative Declaration in connection with the proposed action to to construct a new 2nd and 3rd story and the addition of dwelling units at 425 South Riverside Avenue. In addition, the Village Board schedules a Public Hearing on November 6, 2017 at 8PM in the meeting room of the Stanley H Kellerhouse Municipal Building to consider the special use permit request.   This public hearing will allow comments on the proposal at the current location of Straddles and ET Equipment.  It calls for a total of 10 residential units in addition to the ground floor commercial.
  • Reallocation of the funding sources for the Farrington Road and Hunter Place pavement, curb and sidewalk improvement project.  The resolution calls for changing the amounts  in the accounts in which the costs of the project were previously allocated
  • Authorizing the Village Manager to approve Change Order 1 in the amount of $28,935 for the Elliott Way Improvement Project for a design change to the retaining wall to align with the elevation for the Riverwalk, and the extension of the lighting from the Yacht Club entrance and the beginning of the boardwalk.  These are changes and improvements that have been added since the original contract was authorized.
  • Authorizing the Village Treasurer to amend the 2017-2018 General Fund Budget in the amount of $1,053 for monies received through insurance recoveries for damage to a Village owned fence caused by a delivery truck on Half Moon Bay Drive.  This is budget housekeeping.
  • The Village Board considers rejecting the welding services bids received on July 18, 2017 due to the need to change the scope of work from a 40 hour basis to a 140 hour basis.   The bid bonds were returned and new bidding documents will be available soon.
  • The Village Board of Trustees authorizes the Village Manager to transfer ownership of Rescue 18, (vin# ending 4049) to the Town of Cortlandt at no cost. Rescue 18, a 1993 International 4900 operated by the Croton Fire Department, has 37,934 miles and 4,530 engine hours.  The Village will give the vehicle to the Town of Cortlandt.  The Town has expressed an interest in using this vehicle for their water department.
  • The Village Board considers authorizing the Village Manager to sign the Intermunicipal Agreement with the Town of Cortlandt to allow their use of 3 Municipal Place for organic yard waste disposal. The agreement stipulates that the Village will be billed by Westchester County, as per current protocol, a certain organic yard waste amount and will then allocate said billing to the Town of Cortlandt based on the tonnage amount of organic yard waste materials delivered, plus fifteen percent.   This agreement would allow the Village’s Municipal Place area  to be used by the Town for the same purposea while they are relocating their own facility from Roa Hook to a new facility in Verplanck.
  • The Village Board of Trustees schedules a Public Hearing on November 6, 2017 at 8PM in the meeting room of the Stanley H Kellerhouse Municipal Building to consider Local Law Introductory No. 5 of 2017, which would allow dogs on leashes at Black Rock Park in the area that currently prohibits dogs.   If passed, this amendment to the local law regarding dogs would allow licensed dogs, on a leash, to be in Black Rock Park.  The current  enclosed dog area at Black Rock would still be reserved for those with a permit to unleash their dogs in that area.

 

 

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Brian Pugh: Lifting the Burden on Property Taxpayers

To the Editor:

In last week’s Gazette, I wrote about controlling property taxes

brian-pugh-group-cropped

by managing fast growing budget line-items (e.g. insurance). In addition to controlling spending, we also need to diversify revenue sources so our Village government is less dependent on property taxes paid by homeowners.

Sources of new revenue includes:

  1. Stimulating new economic growth through mixed-use developments like those made possible by Harmon rezoning. The 2013 Harmon re-zoning law, which permits mixed residential and commercial use in the Harmon Zoning District adds options and incentives for commercial property owners in the Harmon business district. At the time and even today, the law was opposed by Croton United’s leaders. Yet it has spurred investment in new mixed use buildings in Harmon and these new investments can add value to the tax rolls and help lighten the load on other taxpayers.
  2. Getting Village-owned property back on the tax rolls by working with private investors that could develop the property. The Village owns parcels such as the “Katz property” and Municipal Place. These parcels could be sold to private developers, giving the Village an initial cash infusion and new property tax revenue into the future (helping to lighten the burden on existing taxpayers). Moreover, this re-development can and should be integrated into a larger economic strategy to help integrate the Village’s commercial corridors and catalyze complimentary uses that will create new business opportunities and amenities in our community.
  3. Capitalizing on possible renewable energy projects on Village property. Sunrise Solar in conjunction with Sunpower proposed creating a 4 megawatt solar power canopy system above the train station parking lot. Under this proposal SunPower would pay Croton a lease for the use of the parking lot (typically for a 20-year term) with annual payments of $100-150,000 ($2-3M over term of contract).

While each individual change may be modest, taken together they can have a substantial impact.

Typically, the property tax increase in a given fiscal year is in the neighborhood of $100,000. Therefore, even small increases in non-tax revenue can help us freeze property taxes and keep our community affordable for middle class families.

Brian Pugh

Brian Pugh: Win-Win Budgeting

To The Editor:brian-pugh-group-cropped
It’s popular to talk about controlling taxes, but far less common for politicians to specify how they plan to manage the expenditures that make taxes necessary.
Helpfully, our Village Manager identifies “significant increases in expenditures” in the annual budget memo. In the memo from March, 2017, the Village Manager names the largest increase as “[e]mployee benefits, including pension costs, FICA, and health insurance premiums are estimated to increase by $340,299.”
By state law, public employees can’t strike. On the other hand, the law also says they continue to receive all benefits while a new contract is negotiated. Pension contributions are also determined by the state.
However, it is still possible to find savings through collaborative methods under NYS law.
A properly designed retirement incentive can be a money-saver.  In 2010, NYS adopted a voluntary early retirement incentive credited by the independent Citizens Budget Commission with saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
Savings can also be realized by finding insurance policies that are a better value for taxpayers and workers through such instruments workers compensation safety groups and municipal cooperative health plans, which join employers together to secure more favorable terms from insurers.
If we are serious about controlling taxes, we must think about how we can control spending.  And there’s no need to re-invent the wheel when it comes to strategic budgeting. The tools are there–we just need to pick them up.
Sincerely,
Brian Pugh

Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 380

ann2016Dear neighbor, Here is the 380th installment of Decoding Village Agendas to keep Croton residents informed of the actions of the Village Board at their meetings.  I continue to add recipients to this email update on agendas so you may be receiving it for the first time. I enjoy getting your feedback and hope to continue to hear from you.  If you do not wish to receive these periodic email updates from me, please reply to this email and your name will be removed from the email list.

Ann Gallelli

 

 

 

Decoding Village Agendas –   September 25, 2017

Work Session of the Village Board

7: 30 p.m.

 (Open to Public and Televised)

 

 

 

  • Discussion about Metro North’s proposal to install 3 elevated equipment platforms adjacent to the track between the trestle bridge over the Croton River and Crawbuckie Point.   Metro North is constructing this as part of their post-Sandy efforts.  It raises key equipment above the high water mark.  The Village’s Waterfront Advisory Committee reviewed the proposal for consistency with our Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) and found it to be consistent.  The Board will make its own determination.

 

 

 

  • Presentation by the Financial Sustainability Committee.   The FSC is making three recommendations for future budgeting – 1) bring in a third party to develop an expenditure optimization plan, 2) implement a 5-year long term forecast in annual budgets, and 3) use a third party arbitrator to negotiate future labor contracts.

 

 

 

  • Discussion about allowing dogs on leashes at Black Rock Park in the area that currently prohibits dogs.   An ongoing discussion about allowing leashed dogs in the part of Black Rock Park that is currently not enclosed for dogs was reviewed by the Recreation Advisory Committee.  The RAC recommends longer hours at the fenced in Dog Park, adding a sticker to Village id’s showing that a resident’s dog has been licensed, and continuing the policy of not allowing dogs in the non-Dog Park area of the park.

 

 

 

  • Discussion about potentially leasing the property at the bottom of Brook Street for additional parking.  The privately-owned lot is at the intersection of Brook Street and North Riverside Ave.  It adjoins a Village-owned parcel currently being used for parking. 

 

 

Brian Pugh: Save the SALT

To the Editors:brian-pugh-group-cropped

President Donald Trump’s plan to overhaul the federal tax code would scrap the popular federal income tax deduction for state and local taxes—and taxpayers in high-tax states, particularly states like New York, New Jersey and California, are likely the biggest losers.

Trump’s proposal to remove the state and local tax (SALT) deduction is unfair for a few reasons:

  1. New Yorkers already pay more than their fair share in federal taxes–New Yorkers already pay $19B more annually in taxes than NYS receives back in federal spending.

  2. Eliminating federal deductibility for state and local taxes would amount to double taxation, as these taxes are mandatory payments for all taxpayers.

  3. Millions of American taxpayers and policymakers have acted in reliance on the state and local tax deduction, which has been part of the tax code since the income tax was established in 1913. Eliminating the SALT deduction pulls the rug out from under them.

  4. Taxpayers should not be punished for funding state and local governments that go above and beyond what an increasingly stalemated federal government is doing.  NY’s state and local taxes fund public schools, tuition free state colleges and innovative environmental and energy conservation programs that fill the gaps in federal policy.

Rather than targeting a tax deduction for the middle class (87% of those claiming the SALT deduction earned less than $200K annually), real tax reform would focus on the 27 companies in the S&P 500 that reported paying no income tax despite reporting pre-tax profits, according to a 2016 USA TODAY analysis.

That’s why I am proud that Croton’s Board of Trustees voted on a unanimous and bipartisan basis for a resolution in support of preserving the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes at the request and suggestion of the NY Conference of Mayors.  By passing this resolution, we join a nationwide grassroots movements of local governments big and small fighting for fair tax policy.

Brian Pugh

Ann Gallelli: Explore Gouveia Park

To the Editorann2016,

Over the past few weeks, I have made  a point of stopping at Gouveia Park as I usually pass it several times a day.  Very frequently there have been residents there exploring it or, sometimes, just eating lunch and reading, a respite of sorts.

This past Sunday, my fellow Trustee, Brian Pugh, and I made it known that we would be there to engage in discussion on matters of resident interests. Some talked to us and many just explored.   It seems that several already had gone there with their children for picnics and down time.  

As is well known, I supported the acceptance of this gift of 15+ beautiful acres (woods, lawn and house) with its $1 Million endowment. I am happy that people are taking it upon themselves to explore it and enjoy it.  

Like all such endeavors, it takes time for such a place to grow into its potential but the interest and genuine enjoyment I heard last Sunday, reinforce my belief that Gouveia Park is a valuable asset to our Village and will become even more so as time goes on.  

Thank you to everyone who took the time to talk with us and express your thoughts.

If you have not had a chance to visit the park, there will be a great reason to visit it this Friday – 9/22.  Our Village Parks Department is showing a movie, The Monster” (PG) at Gouveia Park. Bring a picnic and stay for the movie, which will begin at dusk.  The natural grass amphitheater best lends itself to viewing from blankets on the hillside or low beach chairs.

Ann Gallelli

Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 379

ann2016Dear neighbor, Here is the 379th installment of Decoding Village Agendas to keep Croton residents informed of the actions of the Village Board at their meetings.  I continue to add recipients to this email update on agendas so you may be receiving it for the first time. I enjoy getting your feedback and hope to continue to hear from you.  If you do not wish to receive these periodic email updates from me, please reply to this email and your name will be removed from the email list.

Ann Gallelli

 

 

 

Decoding Village Agendas –  September 18, 2017

Regular Meeting of the Village Board

8:00 pm

 (Open to Public  – Televised)

 

PRESENTATIONS/OTHER:

 

 

  • Ron Schulhof & Michelle Sterling of the Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Committee to present about the Scarsdale Food Scrap Recycling Program.  Scarsdale has instituted a food scrap recycling program which involves residents putting aside food remains in special village-provided containers and disposing of them at their DPW location.
  • The Village Board to review Part 2 of the Environmental Assessment Form in order to determine the environmental significance of the special use permit request at 425 South Riverside Avenue. The applicant is proposing to construct a new 2nd and 3rd story on an existing commercial building in a C-2 mixed occupancy zone. This proposal would include 6 dwelling units with lofts on the 2nd and part of the 3rd floors and 4 dwelling units behind the existing commercial use at street level.  The Village Board will be Lead Agency on this proposal.  It is the current location of ET Equipment and Straddles.  Reviewing Part 2 of the EAF is an early step in the SEQRA process for the application.

 

 

CORRESPONDENCE:

 

  • Dan O’Connor, Village Engineer; re: Request for a building permit extension for the homeowner of 17 North Highland Place.  Due to extenuating circumstances, the property owner has been unable to complete the work under this building permit and it is recommended to extend the permit until November 30, 2017.  The work is for a bathroom and bedroom addition in the attic.  Some aspects of the renovation are on special order and not yet available.
  • Amy & Ned Luke, Village of Croton on Hudson residents; re: Request to remove Village owned maple trees in front of their home on Emerson Avenue.   The Luke’s feel the Village trees present a pedestrian danger and have an undesirable effect on their property.
  • Deb Milone, Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce, Executive Director; re: Scarecrow contest in the Village to correspond with The Blaze event at Van Cortlandt Manor.  Ms. Malone announces that the HV C of C, in conjunction with the Croton Business Council will have a scarecrow contest.  Entrants can be individuals, families, organizations.  They must receive an entry permit and will affixed to lamp posts.  The winner will be announced on October 28 at the Goblin Parade.

 

 

 

PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS:

 

  • Authorizing the Village Board of Trustees to serve as lead agency for SEQRA purposes in connection with the proposed action; a special use permit request at 425 South Riverside Avenue.  The Board has received consensus from the Planning Board and Zoning Board to serve as Lead Agency on this application.  (See Presentations/Other above for details.)
  • The Village of Croton on Hudson formally expresses its strong opposition to any tax reform proposal that would eliminate the State and Local Tax (SALT) Deduction and urges the Village’s federal representatives to join us in publicly opposing any such proposal.  Congress is giving serious consideration to eliminating the federal income tax deduction for state and local taxes.  These deductions have existed for more than 100 years.
  • Authorizing the Village Manager to sign the 2017-2018 Municipal Snow and Ice Agreement Extension with the New York State Department of Transportation. This is funding provided to the Village in the amount of $19,202.08 for snow and ice control on Route 129 and Route 9A.     The Village plows 11.24 miles of State road.  This contract is an agreement on the reimbursement to the Village for prospective plowing in 2017-2018 season.
  • Authorizing the Village Treasurer to amend the 2017-2018 General fund Budget in the amount of $2,300 for monies received through insurance recoveries for damage to Engine 119.  This is budget housekeeping regarding the allocation of insurance money.

 

 

Ann Gallelli: Thank you to our Firefighters!

To the Editor,ann2016

My complements to our Volunteer Fire Department.  This past Sunday, when their annual inspection of equipment was held at Croton Point Park, they were called out twice to respond to calls in the Village.  This annual event is a special occasion for the Fire Department as it is a time when Chiefs and members from other area departments come and evaluate and rate our department’s equipment.  Trustees on the Village Board and the Manager are also invited guests.  It is usually followed by a picnic for the volunteers and families.

They had a challenge this year.  Just before the scheduled inspection, they received a call to which the equipment responded.  By the time they returned, the ceremony was already much delayed.  Nevertheless, with some quick work, the equipment was returned to inspection- worthy status.  Following the inspection, everyone started enjoying the picnic and then another call came in.  The volunteers quickly changed from their uniforms to their firefighter gear and left the picnic to take the call.    

It reminded me that they have our backs every day.

Ann Gallelli

Sherry Horowitz: A Kind & Welcoming Village

Dear Neighbors:sherry2017

Although my children preferred watching Sesame Street and the Electric Company on TV when they were little, I was a big fan of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood; I loved his low-key warmth and wisdom. And now, many years later, I see a distinct similarity between Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and the Childrenspace community.  Both are places that are safe, both physically and emotionally, so that folks feel comfortable and welcome there.

Recently, Mr. Rogers’ name popped up on the internet, and I was drawn to read the article. Apparently, a “lost” Mr. Rogers episode mysteriously resurfaced, which might be a message to our President. In it Mr. Rogers says, “Rules are very, very important.  Not just for games but for all things.  Even big things like countries. Countries have to have rules to protect people, too.  And someday you’ll be helping to make the rules for your country.  I trust that you’ll make the best kind you know how.”

I am running for Croton Village Board Trustee because I would like to help make the rules for my Village, the best kind of rules I know how. I am committed to helping make rules that improve people’s lives; rules that help all people feel safe, rules that encourage mutual respect, that teach the importance of sharing, working together and above all, being kind to each other.  In short, rules that build a strong community where everyone is valued, and all viewpoints are heard and considered.  If that’s the kind of community you would like to live in, you can help me make those rules with your vote on November 7th! And I invite you to share your own vision for Croton with me; I’ll be hanging out at the Black Cow this  Saturday, September 16th, between 12:30 and 2:30.  I hope to see you there!

Respectfully, Sherry Horowitz, Democratic Candidate for Croton Village Board Trustee

Amy Attias: Standing Up For A Civil Discourse

Sep. 14th LTEs -- AA.pngTo the Editor:

 

In the fifteen years I have lived in Croton, I have assiduously avoided local political involvement. Now I am running for office here in the Village, and I am full into the local political “scene.” I did not fully know what I was walking into, and this letter may be the most important one I write.

 

Words have power, and to me, those involved in politics are supposed to be “leaders.” We must model ways to express ourselves, both verbally and in writing. We must show people how to respectfully disagree. 

 

In the last few years there has been public expression, in the name of politics, that has caused hurt and distrust between people in this village. Because I am a first-time candidate, I know the history, but I did not personally live through it and was not personally affected by it. Therefore, it’s easier for me to say: Our opponents are not our enemies, but our neighbors. Whatever we have to say, the most important thing is the way in which we express it.

 

I have been a criminal defense attorney for 35 years. If I can find respectful ways to defend murder cases and speak to juries and judges, then I figure we can find ways to discuss taking care of this village.

 

Nonetheless, we also have a duty to tell the truth to the voters. We can disagree without being disagreeable, but we must be able to clearly articulate and discuss our differences on the issues. And truth must be spoken. I ask for more thought, more waiting before responding, less reacting and more leading. This is the only way our Village can have the level of discourse that it deserves. 

 

Sincerely,

Amy Attias