Brian Pugh: Fair Trade for a Fair Economy

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To the Editor:
I would like to thank Holy Name of Mary parish for organizing its annual fair trade Christmas sale.
As explained by those working in this ministry, “the small farmers who grow coffee or other commodities often struggle to make a simple living. Cut off from markets, they are forced to accept low prices…[t]rading directly with democratically-organized small farmer cooperatives…facilitates farmers’ access to credit, pays them a guaranteed minimum price that provides a stable source of income as well as improved social services, and teaches them…environmentally-sound business practices.”
Now more than ever, we need this kind of “dollar democracy,” where we shop with a higher type of value in mind.
“Economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain, which fail to take the context into account, let alone the effects on human dignity and the natural environment,” Pope Francis wrote in his encyclical on “Care for Our Common Home.”
Consumer spending represents some ⅔ of the US Economy.  This means that, collectively, ordinary people have a tremendous amount of power.  Elections come every few years, but we have a chance to “vote our values” with how we spend, invest and give our money every day.
From our fair trade holiday shopping and beyond, we can fight back against policies and practices that have negative effects on human dignity and the natural environment.
Sincerely,
Brian Pugh
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Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 347

Dear neighbor, Here is the 347th 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

anngallelli@gmail.com

 

 

 

Decoding Village Agendas – December 19,  2016

Regular Meetings of the Village Board

8:00

 (Open to Public  – Televised)

 

 

 

 

PUBLIC HEARING:   The Public Hearing to consider the special permit modification request from Hudson National Golf Club has been cancelled due to the applicant’s withdrawal of the request..   The application for an expansion of their locker room area has been withdrawn.

CORRESPONDENCE:

 

  • Dan Ahouse, Area Director of Government Affairs, Altice; re: Notification that effective December 30, 2016, HTV Musica and Infinito channels will not longer be available.  These two channels are ceasing operations.
  • Robert LUntz, chairman, Village Planning Board; re: Comments from the Planning Board regarding Introductory Local Law No. 7 of 2016 on zoning code amendment language related to fences, walls, and attached structures.  The Planning Board recommends that language be added to the front yard setback for walls and fences include the property up to the structure in RA-5, RA-9 and RB zoning districts.  The letter also notes that there was a discussion but no agreement  on a recommendation requiring the property owner erecting the fence to provide neighbor notification in RA-5, RA-9, and RB districts.  On a vote, this recommendation failed 3-2 among Board members.

 

 

PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS:

  1. Authorizing the Village Manager to sign the proposal from Computel Consultants, subject to the approval of the Village Attorney, for audit services to identify prior and present overcharges or underpayment of cable franchise fees, utilities, and Gross Receipts Tax liabilities. As compensation for services, the Village will agree to pay Computel Consultants a one-time fee of thirty-five percent (35%) of any and all recovered funds, due and payable upon their receipt.   Cable franchises and utilities pay a Gross Receipts tax to municipalities in which they exist but what is owed is often under calculated.  The same is true of utility billing but more about over charging..  The accuracy of the payments requires extensive knowledge of the franchise agreements.  Computel would provide the analysis of these agreements and receive its payment from recovered fees and taes.
  2. Authorizing the Village Manager to award the contract to Sun-Dance Energy/DBA Markley Mechanical of Peekskill, NY in the amount of $117,431 to convert the boiler in the Municipal Building from oil to gas.  Sun-Dance was the lower of two bids received for this work. The Board had previously authorized En-Power Group to conduct a feasibility study for this project and the engineering design for the project.  En-Power reviewed the bids and recommended Sun-Dance.  The boiler conversion was recommended by the Village’s Sustainability Committee.
  3. Authorizing the Village Treasurer to amend the 2016-2017 Fund Budget to reflect insurance recoveries in the amount of $3,124.05 to repair damages to the Fire Department 2015 Ford Super Duty F-450 that was involved in a collision. This is a budgetary housekeeping resolution.
  4. Authorizing the Village Treasurer to transfer $18,000 from the 2016-2017 General Fund Contingency Account to cover repairs to the fire trucks.Maintenance work was conducted on Engine 118, Engine 119, Tower Ladder 44 and Tanker 10.   The work included brake line replacements, heater replacements and generator repairs.  It was not budgeted for so this resolution authorizes  money from the Contingency account to cover the costs.

Brian Pugh: Re-Energize Croton

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To the Editor:
With the change in administrations in Washington, it is more important than ever that we act at the local level to control our energy usage and protect our climate.  Fortunately, the Village of Croton, in partnership with Energize NY, a New York State non-profit, local development corporation, already has a long-standing energy efficiency program, Energize Croton.
Energize NY has already upgraded more than 1,230 homes, including more than 60 in our Village.
Energize Croton will help you qualify for a free or reduced cost home energy assessment, help you find a local state certified energy efficiency contractor and get low interest financing for upgrades to your home.  And the colder months are good time to get an energy assessment for your home, since the difference in indoor and outdoor temperatures makes it easier to detect leaks and drafts using infrared technology.
By Energizing your home, you make your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, increase the value of your home, reduce your carbon footprint and save money.
Last month, the US Energy Information Agency Percent forecast a 38% increase in home heating oil and a 22% increase in natural gas prices over last winter.  And that was before OPEC oil cartel announced its first production cut since 2008, to be joined by Russia and possibly other non-OPEC oil producers.
Now more than ever, home energy efficiency is the environmentally responsible and economically advisable thing to do.
Sincerely,
Brian Pugh

Ann Gallelli: Hydrilla Update

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To the editor,

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) presented Croton residents with their new plan for treating Hydrilla in the Croton River next year.

Hydrilla is an invasive aquatic plant which is present in the Croton Reservoir and in the Croton River.  It grows from bottom to top creating an impenetrable “mat” on the surface and also releases toxins affecting other plant life.  It could affect the health of the Croton River as well as our ability to enjoy the river.  

In 2016, the NYSDEC treatment plan was approved by the Village but not implemented due to the New York City DEP changing the release rate of water from the reservoir.  It called for the use of Endothall to be injected downstream from the Black Rock dam, below the Village well fields.  The treatment was to have been over a short period of time.

The proposed plan for 2017 differs in several ways.  The chemical to be injected is a systemic herbicide called Fluridone.  Although it would be injected at a concentration well below allowable state and federal permitted levels, it would occur over a longer period, from July to October.  It would also be injected into the Croton River just downstream from the Croton Dam.  This means the Fluridone would be above the Village’s well fields.  At present there is no plan for Fluridone to be put into the reservoir to inhibit the hydrilla found there.

Obviously, there are serious concerns about the new program and it will have to undergo a new, and extensive, review by both the Village’s Water Control Commission and the Waterfront Advisory Board.  I believe that the Village should engage professional help in its evaluation and that it should be funded by the NYSDEC.  It will also be reviewed by the Town as the new injection site is in the town.   

Ann Gallelli

From the Chair: Transparency in Village Government

To the Editor:

In his letter to the Gazette last week, Trustee Ken Walsh said that he hoped that “if [Trustee Brian Pugh] has an issue, he will talk with anyone individually on the board either before or after the meetings.”  Mr. Walsh apparently dislikes having such conversations out in the open, preferring to have them in private and off the record.

This seems odd coming from someone who ran for Trustee on a platform that stated that he believes…

“…that the village board has an affirmative obligation to do more than simply let the public know what decisions it has made. Throughout the entire process, each member of the Board must be committed to conducting public business publicly, rather than in secret and behind closed doors.”  

Mr. Walsh seems to have forgotten that pledge in the year since he was elected.  As have his running mates.

Since taking over the majority on the Village Board, the Croton United Trustees have constantly opposed Mr. Pugh’s and Ms. Gallelli’s attempts to agendize items for discussion at public Board meetings.  And Mr. Walsh, in particular, seems to have an aversion to public meetings and appears to not understand the reason to have them.  He has been absent from many scheduled Board meetings, and he has complained more than once that there are too many meetings and that they take too long, though they typically run about 90 minutes.

Mr. Walsh and his Croton United colleagues campaigned their way into the majority by complaining about a lack of transparency in their opponents’ administration and promising to do better.   But, once elected, they have in fact reduced communications with the residents and important decisions have been made without public discussion.

The monthly newsletter was unilaterally scrapped by the Mayor only to be replaced by a “quarterly” publication which has much less useful information, and arrives one third as often.  Their other unilateral actions, if taken by the previous administration, would have been grist for a barrage of outraged letters from them and their supporters.  

I know that “consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds”, but really…

Richard Masur, Croton Resident

Brian Pugh: The War on Poverty Begins at Home

To The Editor: brian-pugh-group-cropped
I would like to express my sincere thanks to all the groups and individuals in our community working to fight poverty and support those in need–particularly, Croton Caring Committee, the Croton-Cortlandt Food Pantry and Holy Name’s God Squad, which recently held its annual sleepout against homelessness.
A report released last week by the United Way found that in our own Village, 18% of residents live in poverty, 11% lack health insurance and 32% of homeowners and 49% of renters are considered housing burdened (defined as spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs).
It is important that we support organizations helping those in need.  But we must also look at what government at all levels can do.
Locally, we should look at expanding rent stabilization and ensuring that no Village worker makes less than the NY minimum wage (governments are not required to do so).   In addition, our Village administration should ensure that residents are aware of all the resources that may be available.
These steps would have little if any impact on taxpayers and could provide real relief for those in need.
Sincerely,
Brian Pugh

Ann Gallelli: Recognizing Two Special Crotonites

ann2016To the Editor,
In the last two weeks, two of Croton’s residents have received special recognition. I was privileged to attend both ceremonies at which residents Thomas Burniston and Richard Nagel were honored, respectively. Both men were nominated by the Board of Trustees for their awards.

Tom Burniston was recognized at NYS Senator Terrence Murphy’s Veteran’s Hall of Fame event for the 40th Senate District. Tom, a veteran of the Vietnam war, is a recipient of the Silver Star, Bronze Star for Heroism and a Purple Heart recipient among several other awards. As a long-time resident, he was an active leader of the Boy Scouts, and also served on both the Planning Board and as a Trustee on the Village Board in the 90’s.
Richard “Dick” Nagel, has served as Chief of the Croton Fire Department. Since 2010, he has volunteered his professional knowledge as the Village’s Director of Emergency Management Services. He continues in this volunteer position in which he coordinates all emergency planning between the departments of the Village including Police, Fire, DPW, Engineering and the Manager’s office.

I extend my congratulations to both Tom and Dick on their well-deserved recognition. Croton is fortunate to have many residents who contribute to the both the local and the larger communities in which we live.

Ann Gallelli

Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas

Dear neighbor, Here is the 345th 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 – December 5,  2016

Regular Meetings of the Village Board

8:00

 (Open to Public  – Televised)

 

 

The meeting will start with the Annual Organization Meeting at which  Trustees-elect Ann Gallelli and Brian Pugh will be sworn in.  Formal appointments for the following year will be made to positions and volunteer committees by the Mayor

 

 

Regular Meeting Agenda

 

PUBLIC HEARING:   Public Hearing to consider the special permit modification request from Skyview Rehabilitation & Healthcare to allow for an administrative office building renovation project on their property located at 1280 Albany Post road.   Skyview wishes to utilize the house at tis entrance for business  office purposes.  This would enable them to free up more space in the main facility for patient related purposes.    The Planning Board issued a favorable recommendation.

 

CORRESPONDENCE:

 

  • Dan Ahouse, Area Director of Government Affairs, Altice: re: Notification that effective December 15, 2016, C-SPAN3 will be relocated from Channel 102 to channel 107.  There are no changes to packages or pricing.   As required, Altice must  provide notification of changes in its program line up or pricing changes.

 

    1. Mayors and Supervisors of the Indian Brook-Croton Gorge (IBCG) Committee; re: Draft letter from the Mayor and Supervisor of the Indian Brook – Croton Gorge Committee to the Westchester County Department of Planning requesting assistance in updating the Indian Brook-Croton Gorge Watershed Conservation Action Plan. The IBCG Action plan was completed in 2009  with the assistance of the County Planning dept.  It resulted in an Intermunicipal Agreement (IMA) for all participating municipalities to take actions to preserve these watersheds.  While not very active in recent years, the committee would now like to consider some actions, both zoning and otherwise, which would help preserve these watershed.  The letter is a draft to the County from all IBCG member municipalities asking for assistance from the Planning Dept.  Specifically they are requesting GSI services.  The committee is preparing to apply for a Hudson River Valley Greenway grant and the GIS information would be helpful in the application.

 

  • Robert Luntz, Chairman, Village Planning Board; re: Requesting more information from Hudson National Golf Club related to their special permit modification request for an extension of their locker room.  The additional information being requested is needed before the Planning Board can make a final recommendation back to the Village Board of Trustees.    The proposed locker room would extend close to an access road.  The Planning Board wants information on the acceptability of the width of the access road for fire and emergency vehicles.  They are also seeking more information on tree removal near the clubhouse and whether it is permitted under the existing special permit.

 

 

PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS:

  1. Authorizing the Village Manager to sign the change order in the amount of $4,945 to Gentech LTD for additional work needed to replace the Village-owned generator at Half Moon Bay. The original generator was installed under a roof structure.  At some point walls were added completely enclosing the generator but the utility systems remained as originally installed.  During the replacement process, Con Edison required a new installation of the meter bank and regulator with venting to conform with an interior use.  In addition, plastic electrical conduits installed over the old unit, not visible until removal, were being melted by extensive heat and are now replaced with metal conduit.  Lighting was also upgraded to meet interior maintenance light levels.  The original contract with Gentech for the replacement was in the amount of $62,661.00
  2. The Village has received an application for an amended special use permit from Hudson National Golf Club to construct a 12-room cottage building for overnight guests and a caddy storage building on their property located at 40 Arrowcrest Drive. The Village Board of Trustees determines that the proposed action is an unlisted action under SEQRA and declares the Village staff to circulate the application documents to involved agencies including the Village Planning Board, Village Zoning Board, Village Waterfront Advisory Committee, Town of Cortlandt and Westchester County to notify tem of the Village’s intent to serve as Lead Agency and request a response within 30 daysThe 1999 Special Permit approval for the Golf Club permitted 12 rooms in three separate buildings which currently exist.  They are near the clubhouse.  This application would replace those  3 buildings with a single structure containing 12 rooms.  In the same general area, it would also add a caddy/cart storage area.  This application is the beginning of a review process by all the above-mentioned committees and boards.

 

  • The Village Board of Trustees hereby calls for a Public Hearing on January 3, 2017 at 8 pm in the meeting room of the Stanley H. Kellerhouse Municipal Building to consider the special permit modification request from Hudson National Golf Club to allow for an addition to their locker room and bathroom on their property located at  40 Arrowcrest Drive.   This public hearing is necessary because the application is for an amendment to a special permit previously granted by the Village Board.  The request is being considered by the Planning Board as referenced in the Correspondence item above.

 

 

Brian Pugh: Voting with our dollars for the kind of world we want.

To The Editor,

This Thanksgiving, there is much to be grateful for – food, shelter and security for our families and community.

As work and wages are the foundation of every community, I encourage readers to vote with their dollars for the kind of world they want to live in.

The Holiday shopping season begins this Black Friday and provides a great opportunity to shop with your values.

A few suggestions:

1)Buy American–Holiday spending contributes billions of dollars a year to the trade deficit. Imagine what we could do if that money was spent domestically? UnionLabel.org has a comprehensive guide to products union-made in America.

2) Shop Local–Locally owned stores generate much greater benefits for the local economy than national chains do. One study found that the local retailers return a total of 52% of their revenue to the local economy, compared to just 14% for the national chain retailers.

When we buy our gifts, let’s make sure we are also giving workers a fair shot and ensure Happy Holidays for years to come.

Sincerely,

Trustee Brian Pugh

Ann Gallelli: Update from the New York Conference of Mayors

To the editor,

As a Trustee, I firmly believe that the Village Board can achieve the best results for Croton if we engage with other municipalities who share similar problems.  To that end, last week I joined participants from 61 villages and cities in Albany to identify and discuss our legislative priorities for the next session of the NYS Legislature.   The meeting was organized by the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM).   NYCOM  both provides information and advice to member municipalities. It also represents our interests in Albany to the Senate, Assembly and the Governor’s office.

In January, the NYS Legislature will begin a new session and consider a wide range of proposed legislation.  It is important that local governments are prepared to ask for legislation that would aid them with common problems.  At the meeting we identified and discussed some 45 policy issues in the areas of finance, employee relations and public safety, government operations and community development, and environment and energy.

Not all of these are relevant to Croton but the exchange of ideas on these matters is helpful in understanding common problems and how they might be approached.  NYCOM staff will now engage with legislators on our behalf to try to move legislation beneficial to villages forward.  

As I have in the past, I look forward to continuing to engage  with other villages, both state-wide and in the County, on behalf of Croton.

Ann Gallelli