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Brian Pugh: Get covered!

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To the Editor,

Despite the discussions in Washington DC regarding the repeal of “Obamacare,” the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land. That’s why it’s important that everyone make sure they have health insurance coverage before Tuesday, January 31, 2017–the deadline for the NYS health care exchange.

As someone who has bought coverage off the NYS health exchange for two years, I have found the exchange to be reasonably efficient, affordable and the coverage to be of better quality than I was previously available.

To help residents access the exchange, Westchester County Health Department has a team of certified “Navigators” available to help residents. Navigators can provide in person assistance to individuals, families, and small businesses and their employees at the time of initial enrollment or when renewing health coverage.

You can call the DOH at (914) 995-6350 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays to reach a navigator. You can also call the NYSDOH Marketplace at (855) 355-5777 for help.

According to a recent report by the United Way, some 1 in 10 residents of our Village lack health insurance, so it is important that this information be disseminated widely.

Sincerely,

Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 351

Dear neighbor, Here is the 351st 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 – January 23, 2017
Work Session of the Village Board
7: 30 p.m.
(Open to Public and Televised)

Discussion of the 2015-2016 Village Audit with Alan Kassay of PKF O’Connor Davies, LLC. The auditors have reviewed the financial transactions of the Village’s 6 individual governmental funds: General, Water, Sewer, Debt Service, Capital Projects and Special Purpose. The full report is available at the Village website under the Agenda for this meeting. There is also an accompanying letter in which the auditors make recommendations. In this report, the auditors noted that the Village had implemented the accounting provisions of a government standard regarding pensions; government-wide the assets and deferred outflows of resources of the Village exceeded its liabilities and deferred inflow by $13,784,347; at the end of 2015-2016 the General Fund Fund Balance totaled $7,974,916, an increase of $905,824; the Capital Projects fund expenditures were $6,888,120 and the fund balance was $10,287,956. The Management letter is also available on the website.
Discussion with Evan Kolkos from the New York Power Authority about the potential for placing solar panels on Village owned buildings. No backup documentation for this discussion has been provided.
Discussion with the Village’s Sustainability Committee regarding a NYSERDA grant application to convert the interior lights in the Municipal Building to LED. The committee is proposing that the Village take advantage of a NYSERDA grant program to upgrade the Municipal Building. The building is 35,000 square feet with 977 fluorescent lights. To move ahead, the committee requests the Village authorize them to complete the grant application and work with the Village administration on its details.
Discussion about the potential to transition the Village’s Water billing from biannually to quarterly. No backup documents have been included for this discussion. The suggestion for quarterly billing has been raised as a way to spread out the impacts of two semi-annual bills to water customers..
Request by Village Manager to enter into an executive session to discuss personnel issues relating to specific individuals.

Brian Pugh: CCA–1 Year Later

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To the Editor,

This week marks the one year anniversary of the rejection of Sustainable Westchester’s Westchester Power Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) Program by the Croton United majority (over the objections of me and Trustee Ann Gallelli). Earlier this month, Dr. Mayor Greg Schmidt and village staff met with a representative of Westchester Power–I hope this discussion will be a catalyst for a timely correction by the Village Board that results in our Village reaping the benefits of CCA sooner rather than later.

Westchester Power (Community Choice Aggregation, a/k/a CCA) is a community-based bulk energy purchasing program intended to lower costs and increase the use of renewable energy in Westchester County. Westchester Power is a program initiated and implemented by Sustainable Westchester, a non-profit organization that serves member cities, towns and villages.

Day by day, the wisdom of CCA becomes ever clearer. The New York Public Service Commission, the chief utility regulator, authorized CCA statewide on the basis of the success of the Westchester Power CCA. Leading environmental groups including the Clearwater Hudson River Sloop, Riverkeeper and the NY League of Conservation voters have all praised CCA. Sustainable Westchester has been honored by the US EPA as a NYS Environmental Champion for establishing Westchester Power.

Westchester Power CCA is also a demonstrated economic, as well as environmental, success. As documented in the “Rate Update” available at westchesterpower.org, CCA has consistently beaten the standard Con Edison price. Even the 100% renewable option under CCA has, more often than not, beaten the Con Edison price for electricity. With the US Energy Information Agency forecasting continued price hikes for electricity in 2017 and 2018, the financially responsible thing to do would be for our Village to help lock in relatively low energy prices sooner rather than later.

As it stands, the current CCA contract will run through May 2018. After spending a year watching our neighbors in Ossining, Tarrytown and Irvington save money and reduce their carbon footprint, I think the Village should not force residents to wait any longer and, instead, work with all deliberate speed to secure the community affordable renewable power through the Westchester Power CCA.

Sincerely,

Brian Pugh

Ann Gallelli: The Empire State Trail

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To the Editor,
Last week Governor Cuomo proposed the completion of an “Empire State Trail” by 2020. It would create a trail system extending from New York City to the Canadian border and from Lake Erie to Albany. The $200 million proposal would be done in three phases, the first of which, $53 million, will appear in his budget for the coming year.
The portion along the Hudson River would allow for the completion of the partially realized Hudson River Valley Green Council’s Trail System.
I believe the Village of Croton is uniquely suited to take advantage of this proposal as a result of steps previously taken and approved plans already in place. Our Village was designated a “Greenway Model Community” in 1997 having adopted its own Greenway Visions Plan. In 2004, the Village received another Greenway award for the quality of our planning. We are on record identifying the completion of a trail along the Village’s entire Hudson River waterfront as our goal. Our existing Croton Landing Park already fulfills a large section of the Greenway Trail system along the Hudson.
The major missing piece is the stretch between the north end of Croton Landing and the County’s Oscawana Park. This key link is identified in all the Greenway and County trail plans and some design work has already been done. Due to the difficult terrain and right-of-way issues, this section must be built as part of a well-funded, larger concept like Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Trail.
Help us to make this a reality by telling our State legislators (Assemblyperson Galef and Senator Murphy) and our Board of Trustees that you want us to take action to support and secure this and other similar kinds of opportunities that can further enhance our waterfront, local economy and the desirability of Croton as a place to live.

Ann Gallelli

Sandy Galef: Adopt-a-Highway Information

Dear Mayors, Supervisors, and County Officials in the 95th Assembly District, 095_hdrhs

As we are moving into the New Year, I have a feeling that you have received many phone calls and emails from our constituents regarding the large amounts of litter on the highways. Although we would like to stop people from littering on the highways, there is just more that needs to be done. So in order to help this situation, I hope that we can expand the Adopt-A-Highway program as a way for the community to take action against the cluttered highways. This state program allows for individuals and organizations to adopt a segment of a highway, which they will take on the responsibility of keeping it clean. Attached is a brochure with all the information about the Adopt-A-Highway program that you can distribute to various organizations and individuals in your community. Below there is also some additional information about the program…

Adopt-A-Highway Program:
· Adopters must be 12 years or older in order to participate
o 12-18 years olds need to be accompanied by a guardian
· Adopters would receive recognition in the form of a blue and white sign that would be placed at the beginning of their highway segment.
· Adopter must sign a formal agreement with New York State Department of Transportation.
o The agreement is for two years, but can be renewed
· If approved, the adopter needs to obtain a Highway Work Permit from NYSDOT; the fee is waived.
· The adopters would be awarded up to two miles that would have to be cleaned four times a year.
o This program can cost $500 or more dependent on the maintenance provider that the adopter chooses.
· Adopters can choose to clean the area themselves, but they would only be allowed to adopt areas away from high-speed traffic.
o If this option is chosen, it is suggested that they clean the area two times a month.

This is an effective environmental program that allows for individuals or organizations to take the initiative to clean up our community. For more information individuals and organizations can go on to https://www.dot.ny.gov/programs/adopt-highway and also http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/infrastructure/adopthwy.shtml and for specific questions they can contact the Adopt-a-Highway Coordinator at (718) 712-7563. If individuals or organizations are interested in adopting, those in Northern Westchester County can contact Stuart Sprague at (914) 232-5065 and those in Putnam County can contact Rock DeNigro at (845) 878-6363.

I hope that you will find this information helpful and encouraging more local participation in cleaning up our highways and roads in our communities. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Sandy Galef

Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas

Decoding Village Agendas
1 message

 

Ann Gallelli <anngallelli@gmail.com> Sat, Jan 14, 2017 at 11:14 AM
To: Ann Gallelli <anngallelli@gmail.com>

 

Dear neighbor, Here is the 350th 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 – January 17, 2017

Regular Meeting of the Village Board

8:00

 (Open to Public  – Televised)

 

NOTE:  This meeting is on Tuesday due to Martin Luther King Day

 

 

 

 

PUBLIC HEARING: Public Hearing to consider the formal adoption of the Village’s Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan is a written document that contains goals, objectives, and strategies for the future development and conservation of the community.  The Village Board has previously declared itself Lead Agency on the proposed adoption of an updated Comprehensive Plan.  An earlier public hearing on the plan was held in June 2016.  Both the Planning Board and the Waterfront Advisory Committee have been asked for recommendations on Part 1 of the EAF (environmental Assessment Form) and the CAF (Coastal Assessment Form) for the plan.

 

CORRESPONDENCE:

  • Chris Kehoe, Deputy Director of the Planning Division, Town of Cortlandt: re; Notification of a Public Hearing at 7:00PM on January 24, 2017 at Cortlandt Town Hall, 1 Heady Street, Cortlandt Manor, NY to consider amending the Zoning Ordinance to create an M1A zoning district in the area of Roa Hook Road and to create a definition for organic waste composting and to permit said composting in said district. The Town is proposing a zoning change as described above and, as a Village in the Town, we are being notified of their public hearing.

 

PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS:

a.      Village Board issues and adopts the EAF parts 2 and 3 Determination of Significance attached hereto, and adopts a Negative Declaration in connection with the 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 Board had previously reviewed the SEQRA documents and meeting and requested the staff to complete the appropriate Part 2 and Part 3 EAF SEQRA documents, the Board will consider a Negative declaration as to the environmental significance of the proposal.

b.      The Village Board declares itself lead agency for SEQRA purposes related to proposed amendments to the Village’s zoning code regarding walls, retaining walls, fences and accessory uses, and it authorizes the circulation of the Environmental Assessment Form and Coastal Assessment Form to the Planning Board and Waterfront Advisory Committee. The purpose of this amendment is to more clearly define certain terms such as walls, height, and accessory structures. The law also limits the height of fences in front yards to 4 feet.  The Zoning Board has requested for some time a better definition of some terms in the law to help with their processing of variances.  Currently fences up to 6 feet in height can be installed anywhere on the lot and fences less than 25% solid (chain link, etc.) have no height restrictions other than the maximum height of an accessory building which is 15 feet.  The proposed amendment would limit the height of fences and walls in the front yard to 4 feet and limit the height of fences that are less than 25% solid to a maximum of 8 feet.  It is also proposed that the finished side of the fence face the street or the abutting lot which is currently not covered in the code.

c.       The Village Board calls for a Public Hearing on February 6, 2017 at 8:00PM in the Meeting Room of the Stanley H Kellerhouse Municipal Building to consider amending the Local Law regarding signage in Village rights-of-way. The amendments would limit the type of signage that can be located in the Village’s right-of-way.   The proposed law would amend Chapter 197, Section 8  regarding posting signs in the Village’s Right of Way (ROW).It would prohibit any signs from being put in the ROW.  It also amends Chapter 230, Section 44 (K)(1)  regarding the definition of temporary signs.  This does not apply to political signs.

d.      Board of Trustees adopts Fund Balance and Debt Policy. The fund balance policy recommends setting the unassigned general fund balance to 17-22% of the total appropriations and creating reserve accounts with any surplus on a yearly basis. The debt policy recommends limiting overall general fund debt payments to within 16% of total appropriations and planning to reduce the overall debt by not issuing more debt per year than is retired each year,  Both the Fund Balance Policy and the Debt Policy are policies recommended by the NYS Comptrollers office , NYCOM (New York Conference of Mayors) and the Village Fiscal Sustainability Committee.  The recommendations in both policies generally follow the guidelines provided by those organizations.  Both policy proposals are available on the Village website under Meeting Agendas.

e.       The Village Board repeals the previous authorization of serial bonds dating back to June 22, 2015 and August 15, 2016 that were to provide financing for various capital improvements. The Village has determined that all or a portion of the financing authorizations will not be required for these capital projects and proposes to repeal the serial bond authorizations.    This pertains only to past resolutions supporting potential bonds that were never issued.  In some cases, projects or purchases were postponed or paid for in another way such as through the General Fund operating budget or through a trust account.  The Manager and Treasurer are recommending this action.  It does not affect any existing bonds.

f.        Authorizing the Village Manager to award the contract to WD Excavation and Contracting Inc. of Croton-on-Hudson, NY in the amount of $555,500 to replace the bridge and culvert at Pump House Road. This infrastructure provides access to the Village’s Water Department building.   This work has been under consideration for several years.  It would fix the two entrances to the well field location including the culverts.  One of the entrance suffered extreme damage in Hurricane Irene.  Twelve bids were received for this work.

g.      Authorizing the Village Manager to award the contract to Provident Design Engineering of Hawthorne, New York in the amount of $5,900 to evaluate the traffic flow and safety at the intersection of Old Post Road and Grand Street.  The memo from the DPW Superintendent says that this is to address public comments and concern about pedestrian safety and traffic impacts at this intersection.  The study will include traffic engineering protocols as well as a public meeting  to present their findings.

h.      Board of Trustees authorizes the Village Attorney to execute the Tax Certiorari Settlement with Verizon New York Inc. for property located at 85 North Riverside Avenue (67.20-4-39).  The Village and Verizon have reached a settlement which calls for the Village to reimburse Verizon in the amount of $15,935.01 for their challenges to their Village property assessments.

i.        Authorizing the Village Manager to accept the proposal from Buckhurst, Fish & Jacquemart (BFJ Planning) in the amount not to exceed $10,000 to complete work in order to update the Village’s Comprehensive Plan.  BFJ has been working with the Village in developing its updated Comprehensive Plan.  It completed its previously contracted work in December 2016.  There are a few more steps involved in completing the process which BFJ will be involved in, including the public hearing at this meeting, a work session with the Board, a revised document and SEQRA and Coastal Zone documentation.

j.        Authorizing the Village Manager to sign a change order in the amount of $262,206.79, pending the approval all of necessary permits, for the installation of  a water main at Elliott Way. Hietkemp Inc. has been contracted by the Village over the past three years to perform extensive cement lining and water main work to upgrade the Village’s distribution system, and they have agreed to install the proposed 1,200 feet of  8 inch water main along Elliott Way for the current pricing within their current cerement lining / water main installation contract.   As described above, Heitkemp has been involved in extensive water-related work for the last three years in the Village.  They have agreed to do this proposed work at their current contract prices.   This work had been included as part of the Elliott Way improvement bid which came in very high.  This aspect of the Improvement project has been removed from the project and would be contracted with Heitkemp.  This work will provide an important loop for service to Half Moon Bay as well as Senasqua Park,  Croton Yacht Club and Croton Landing.

k.      Authorizing the Village Treasurer to amend Capital Projects 16311 in the amount of $215,613.17 for PAVE NY, Extreme Winter and CHIPS monies received from NYS for roadway and curb improvement projects.  This is a budget housekeeping resolution to record monies received under these two programs.

l.        Authorizing the Village Treasurer to amend the General Fund 2016-201717 budget in the amount of $ 6,786 for monies received by building permits over budget. This surplus was due to the permit fees received from ShopRite for their expansion project.   This reflects a surplus in the Building Permit fees (over the budgeted expectation) due to the Shop Rite expansion.  The Village used an consultant to help it review the application.  This surplus money would be used to pay for the  consultant costs.

m.    Authorizing the Village Treasurer to amend the storm water management Georgia Lane capital project from $177,000 to $181,670 for additional costs required to create an offset water line below a culvert that crosses the road.  Costs exceeded the expectation by about $4 600 dollars.  This would be transferred from the Water Fund to the Capital Fund.

n.      Authorizing the Village Treasurer to transfer $6,745 within the 2016-2017 Water Fund accounts to cover expenses related to a heater replacement in Well #1. The heater in Well #1 will be replaced with a 15Kw electrical heater.    This is a housekeeping transfer within the Water fund.

o.      Village Board approves and endorses the application for a grant under the Greenway Communities Grant Program, for a project known as Indian Brook – Croton Gorge Watershed Conservation Action Plan Update and Implementation.  The Town of Cortlandt is applying for this grant.  Its terms require approval from the municipalities  in which the project will be located of which Croton is one.

p.      Authorizing the Village Manager to award the contract to ADS Environmental Services in the amount of $10,004 for flow monitoring services related to the Nordica Drive Pump Station project.  The Westchester County Health Department has requested that the Village provides a capacity certification letter which requires that flow monitoring be conducted.  This work is an addition to the work to be done on Phase 2 of the Nordica Sewer Pump station work that will replace the 1960 sewer pumps and motors and relocate the force main discharge station.

 

Richard Masur: Acting Justice Appointment

To the Editor:

Mayor Greg Schmidt recently appointed Mr. Peter Schuyler to be the Acting Village Justice of Croton on Hudson. This is an appointment that carries with it a taxpayer funded salary. The Mayor owes it to the Village to explain his reasons for making this choice and to reveal any potential conflicts that might have influenced his decision.

Mayor Schmidt ran and was elected as Croton Mayor and Trustee with the backing of the Republican Party several times in the past, but ran and was elected to his current office, in 2015, as a member of Croton United. Croton United has been chaired since its inception by Ms. Roseanne Schuyler, Mr. Peter Schuyler’s wife and partner in the Kitson & Schuyler law firm.

I wrote some time ago about the apparent lack of familiarity that the Mayor and his CU colleagues have with the need to avoid conflicts of interest in government. One of the examples that I cited involved Mr. Schuyler appearing before the Village Board on behalf of his legal client to ask for a waiver of Village rules to benefit that client. I made it clear then, as I do now, that I do not personally know of any ethical problem with Mr. Schuyler’s pursuance of his legal business before the Village Board, regardless of his relationship with the Mayor and the CU Trustees on that Board.

However, the Mayor and his CU colleagues on the Board had a duty to the Village residents to disclose the fact that Mr. Schuyler was the husband and law partner of the Chair of the political organization to which they belong and that was responsible for their election to their offices just weeks before. The voters have the right to decide for themselves whether such a relationship constitutes a conflict of interest and therefore casts doubt on the objectivity of the decisions made by the Mayor and his CU majority on the Board. Similarly, in the recent appointment of Mr. Schuyler to sit as Acting Village Justice in this Village’s court, issues and questions arise that have yet to be answered.

First, did Mayor Schmidt disclose his relationship with Ms. Schuyler and her position as the Croton United Chair when announcing her husband/law partner’s appointment? To my knowledge, no such disclosure has ever been made by the Mayor. Croton residents can draw their own conclusions about why the Mayor appointed Mr. Schuyler and failed once again to disclose his possible conflicts in making his decision.

Second, does Mr. Schuyler intend to refrain from representing clients with business before the Village for the duration of his tenure as Acting Justice? Does his wife and law partner intend to refrain from such activities? If they do not, will these potential conflicts of interest be disclosed by the Mayor and his colleagues? The residents of the Village deserve answers to these questions.

Richard Masur, Croton Democratic Committee Chair

Brian Pugh: Honoring MLK

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To the Editor,

As we remember Dr. Martin Luther King this holiday weekend, we should remember him not just for his stirring rhetoric, but the substantive changes for which he fought. Among the changes championed by King was a fair minimum wage.

“We know of no more crucial civil rights issue…today than the need to increase the..minimum wage and extend its coverage,” said Dr. King in 1966.

Sadly, over the decades, the buying power of the minimum wage has been allowed to erode. The federal minimum wage (currently $7.25/hour) peaked in 1970–when, adjusted for inflation, it was over $12/hour in today’s dollars.

To correct this, New York State is having the state minimum wage for workers in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties increase to $10/hour at the start of 2017, then an additional $1/hour each year after, reaching $15/hour on 12/31/2021.

Citing an exemption in the state minimum wage law, the current Village administration has declined to follow suit. Nonetheless, New York State, New York City, Buffalo and Rochester have all voluntarily pledged to pay their public sector workers at least the state minimum.

At a time when other employers are raising starting wages, the Village should follow suit to remain competitive and attract and retain qualified people. Offering a starting wage of around $8/hour when most all other employers must offer at least $10/hour is not tenable.

Beyond the practical argument, there is a moral one. Do we value the work performed by seasonal laborers, camp counselors or lifeguards less than we value the jobs done by other workers such as those in the fast food industry?

Paying Village workers, mostly seasonal temporary workers such as camp counselors, the state minimum wage would have a minimal impact on our Village’s $18M budget.

When this issue was last discussed in August, the Mayor and his Deputy Mayor insisted that the cost of raising starting pay to $9/hr for Village workers (then the NYS minimum wage), for a total cost of some $1,025, would overburden on the Village treasury. Yet, in 2016, the Croton United Party majority found $5,000 in taxpayer dollars to pay their largest campaign donor as “reparations” for a claim that was denied by the Village’s insurance plan.

It’s true that we live in austere times. But we need not and should not balance the Village’s budget on the backs of its lowest paid workers.

Sincerely,

Brian Pugh