Brian Pugh: Honor Labor Day with Principled Policies

To the Editor:brian-pugh-group-cropped
 
As we prepare for the Labor Day weekend, it seems appropriate to the reflect on our community’s labor standards.
 
“It seems to me..plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By “business” I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers I mean all workers, the white collar class as well as the men in overalls; and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level-I mean the wages of decent living,” said President Franklin Roosevelt in 1933.
 
Yet the Village of Croton falls far short of this standard. At the start of this year, the NYS minimum wage increased to $10 (and will now gradually rise to $15/hour by 2021).  The Village of Croton, as a local government is not required to pay the state minimum wage due to a loophole in state labor law.   
 
Virtually every other employer in our Village is required to pay the NYS minimum wage. And almost every parent I know pays their sitters well in excess of the $10 state minimum wage. 
 
The some $13,000 needed to raise wages for Village seasonal workers to $10/hour is less than the cost of the recent raises for departments heads and de minimis compared to our overall $19M budget.
 
The administration has made it clear that as a matter of principle they believe in paying camp counselors and other seasonal workers less than the $10/hour state minimum wage.  
 
This is not a question of cost, but of values: Aren’t the seasonal Village workers, who are largely from our own community, deserving of better than this?   
 
Sincerely,
 
Brian Pugh
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Ann Gallelli: Thank you to our Village Volunteers

To the Editor,ann2016

Last week it was my misfortune to miss the annual picnic to recognize our volunteers.  My thanks go to all the people in our community who work on our behalf and who participate on Croton boards and committees to make Croton such a wonderful place to live.

Our volunteers spend countless hours in areas of their interest and knowledge, all of which benefits you and I as residents.  From carrying out the mandates of the law, encouraging new ideas to save money and improve our Village experience, developing plans for the future, putting in hours of physical work to enable gardens and trails to exist, organizing Village-wide events, to making presentations to enlighten us all, I say a big THANK YOU.

 

Ann Gallelli

Holding Local Government Accountable

2nd Mailer FB Image.png

Dear Neighbor:

We hope your summer is going well.

We know it is early in the season to speak about Village elections, but we have much to say that is important and affects this Village. We feel very strongly about conducting a positive, respectful campaign, but we do have to review the record of Croton United and show you how they have not lived up to their campaign goals and promises. This is not a personal attack, but rather a frank review of the Croton United government.

    1. Fiscal Responsibility. In 2015 Croton United stated, “It will take some time to get Croton’s financial house in order, and it will not be easy. But it must be done. And we pledge to do it as quickly and painlessly as possible.”  The Croton United majority has been so focused on not borrowing more money that it has stalled important capital projects like the planned upgrades to Croton Point Avenue and the approach to the train station, and the replacement of two fire department vehicles that are over 20 years old. We would not let our homes fall into disrepair, and we would not have our family members drive 20 year-old cars. Let’s take care of our responsibilities and do it wisely.
    2. Transparency & Ethics in Government. Croton United pledged, “When we take office, we will keep you informed, in a timely manner, regarding the actions your village board is taking in your name. We will institute a policy of proactive disclosure of public documents.”  Instead of doing this, the Mayor cancelled the monthly newsletter, on his own, and made it more difficult to obtain Village documents.  In addition, the current majority approved a payment of taxpayer dollars to their largest donor as “settlement” for a claim rejected by our insurer. Now, Croton United has even go so far as to nominated the spouse of the Associate Village Justice as a candidate for Trustee in this year’s election.

 

  • Economic Development: In their 2015 campaign, Croton United stated, “We will revive the Business Development Committee…developing new relationships and nurturing the existing ones.”  The Business Development Committee was never reconvened nor has the Croton United majority developed a plan to attract new businesses to Croton, support existing ones, or capitalize on the influx of visitors we have for events like the Blaze. Meanwhile, Croton has numerous empty storefronts and continues to miss opportunities. The Village should also work creatively with entrepreneurs to turn unused spaces into viable businesses that will benefit the entire community.

 

In our next letter, we will talk about some specific ideas for improving our wonderful Village.

Candidate for Mayor Amy Attias for Trustee   Sherry Horowitz for Trustee

 

Brian Pugh: Planning for our renewable energy future.

To the Editor:

brian-pugh-group-cropped

Over the summer, the Village has received two proposals for “community solar” projects (one of these was discussed at the 6/12/17 work session at length).  At last week’s Work Session our Village Board of Trustees began the discussion about adopting a local law for governing community, commercial and utility-scale solar projects within the Village.

 

A community solar project—sometimes referred to as a solar garden or shared renewable energy plant—is a solar power plant shared by more than one household.

 

Only about half of the country’s homes and businesses can host solar on their own roofs, because of shade and other limiting factors, according to the US Department of Energy. In 2015, NY joined the growing number of states allowing for community shared solar.

 

Some experts predict by 2020, the US can install between 5.5 and 11 gigawatts of shared solar, enough to power between 900,000 and 1.8 million homes.  This will make solar much more accessible for those living in multifamily housing, tenants and homes that are not physically suited to host solar power.

 

Traditional rooftop mounted residential solar power systems are already permitted in our Village as an “accessory use” to residential property.  By adopting a local law on larger solar power systems, our Village can provide regulatory certainty for property owners and installers and facilitate the generation of more renewable power while ensuring that these projects do not  cause undue burdens on the community.

 

As concerns about greenhouse gas emissions increase, electricity prices rise (especially with the planned closure of Indian Point) and renewable energy technology further matures, community shared solar power projects and other green power initiatives will grow in importance.  Local government should work proactively to ensure that this energy revolution serves the public interest.

 

Sincerely,

 

Brian Pugh

 

Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 377

ann2016Dear neighbor, Here is the 377th 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 –  August 21,, 2017

Regular Meeting of the Village Board

7:30 pm

 (Open to Public  – Televised)

 

NOTE:  An Executive Session will be requested at 7:30 pm and held, if approved.  The regular meeting will start at 8 pm.

 

 

PRESENTATION/OTHER:  Request by Village Manager to enter into an Executive Session for personnel matters related to a specific individual.  If the request is granted, an Executive Session will be held at 7:30 pm.

 

 

CORRESPONDENCE:

 

  • Town of Cortlandt resolution dated August 15, 2017, authorizing an 80% reduction of assessment for 435 and 439 Yorktown Road.  After meetings and consultation between the Village  and Town, the Town has agreed to reduce the assessment from 80% from their previous proposed reduction of 60%.
  • Dr. Gregory Schmidt, President, Rotary Club of Croton-on-Hudson; re: requesting use of Section F in the train station parking lot for the Rotary Annual Car Show on Sunday, September 24, 2017 from approximately 10 am to 3 pm.  The Board has regularly granted this request for many years.
  • Jud Ramaker, Race Director, 36th Annual Harry Chapin Run Against Hunger; re: Requesting Village support for the 5k and 10k races scheduled for Sunday, October 15, 2017. The races will begin at 9:30 am and 11:00 am and will be held over the normal routes, unchanged from 2016, starting at various points close to Veterans Corner and finishing at Croton Harmon High School.    The Village Board has endorsed and supported this event over its 36 years.
  • Dan Ahouse, Area Director of Government Affairs, Altice; re: Notification that as of August 22, 2017, MTV2 and Nick Jr. will be re-tiered in the Hudson Valley Systems for residential and commercial customers.  In addition, Optimum has removed their Enlish Premier League  suite of channels as of August 2, 2017.
  • Dan Ahouse, Area Director of Government Affairs, Altice; re: Notification that as of August 25, 2017, NickMusic and BET Soul will no longer be available to residents and commercial customers.

 

 

PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS:

 

  • Village Board declares its intent to be the Lead Agency for SEQRA purposes in connection with the proposed action, directs the Village staff to circulate the EAF, CAF, and other application documents to involved and interested agencies of such intent and also refers the application to the Village Planning Board for its review and recommendation in accordance with law.   An application for an enhanced garden center at 1360 Albany Post Road has been received.  It requires a special permit and may require a zoning variance.  This resolution refers the application to the Planning Board for a recommendation and also is a declaration of Intent to Serve as Lead Agency under SEQRA by the Village Board.  This is the site of the current Croton Country Gardens.
  • Authorizing the Village Manager to award the emergency generator maintenance contract to FM Generator of Canton, MA in the amount of $6,275 for a period of one year.   There were 6 bids for the contract.  When emergency service is required, FM Generator will be the provider.
  • Authorizing the Village Manager to accept the quote from Precision Built Fences in the amount of $9,400 to place fencing at Sunset Park. The funding for the fencing will be taken from the Recreation Trust.  Two bids were returned for this project which calls for 425 feet of 4 foot high fence of black steel core wire.
  • Authorizing the Village Manager to accept the quote from Playground Medic in the amount of $13,700 to replace the swing set at Dobbs Park. The new swing set will provide a total of 4 swings (2 infants & 2 toddlers swings) and build a border in order to keep the woodchips within the area. This funding will come from the Recreation Trust.   Three bids were received for this work.  The base of the set will be wood chips surrounded by wooden timbers.
  • Authorizing the Village Manager to approve the proposal from Dvirka & Bartilucci in an amount not to exceed $16,000 for design and bidding services for the Hillside Avenue Drainage Project.  D&B has been working with the Village since spring to determine the optimal plan for dealing with drainage issues in this area.  It has been determined that proceeding with implementing a drainage solution along Hillside will also alleviate problems on Hunter.  This authorizes D&B to proceed with design for that solution.
  • Authorizing the Village Manager to approve the proposal from the Chazen Companies in the amount of $800 for technical assistance to the Planning Board in its review of the safety of the stone wall, subject to the Village setting up an escrow account funded by the applicant.  The Planning Board has been reviewing an existing stone wall.  To determine  if it is safe, they are requesting an engineering review. The applicant is funding the $800 escrow account to pay for the review by Chazen.
  • Authorizing the Village Court Office to apply for the 2017-2018 Justice Court Assistance Program.  The Court applies for funding under this grant on a yearly basis.  It is for funding of some office or procedural improvement in the Court office.  If granted, the court office will use it for a new copy machine.
  • The Village of Croton on Hudson considers the establishment of standard work days, as detailed in the attached resolution, for elected and appointed officials, and will report the following days worked to the New York State and Local Employees’ Retirement System based on the record of activities maintained and submitted to the Village Clerk.  This is required reporting to NYS.  It establishes 7 hour work day as the standard work day for elected and appointed officials of the village.
  • Authorizing the Village Treasurer make budget transfer, as detailed in the attached schedule, to the 2016/17 General, Water, and Sewer Fund budgets. The onsite audit visit has been completed for the 2016/17 budget and these budget transfers are required.  As stated, following an audit by the NYS Comptroller’s Office, these transfers are required housekeeping.
  • Authorizing the Village Treasurer to amend the 2017/18 General Fund Budget in the amount of $1,000.36 for monies received from the NBC/ UNIVERSAL for Village employee personnel costs related to a filming at Black Rock Park.  Police, Recreation and Parking personnel were used during a filming by NBC/Universal.  This is a reimbursement for these costs over and above the permit fees paid.  The filming took place in July at Black Rock Park.
  • Authorizing the Village Treasurer to amend the 2017/18 General Fund Budget in the amount of $ 9,796.44 for monies received for the Clearwater festival reimbursement.   This is reimbursement for Police and Recreation personnel costs during the Clearwater Festival.

 

 

OTHER:  Request by the Village Manager to enter into an executive session to discuss contract issues regarding the purchase of 435-439 Yorktown Road. If the request is granted, an executive session will be held. 

Brian Pugh: Ensuring Ethics in Local Government

To the Editorbrian-pugh-group-cropped:

For many years, our Village has had a Code of Ethics for public officials. The code covers such issues as disclosure of interest in legislation, investment, and employment that could potentially be in conflict with official duties. However, the Village of Croton does not have an independent Ethics Board to help local officials navigate the code.

The establishment of a local Board of Ethics is optional. Nevertheless, many neighboring municipalities (such as Ossining, Irvington and Hastings) have chosen to establish their own Ethics Boards. Recent controversies in our Village support the establishment of such a board.

NYS Law authorizes the governing body of any municipality to establish a Board of Ethics. State law empowers communities to give such boards an array of powers. Ethics Boards can render advisory opinions to municipalities concerning conflicts of interest. They may also make recommendations on amendments to the ethics code. Some even have investigative and enforcement authority.

Deciding whether to establish an Ethics Board is an important municipal decision. Our Village should begin the public discussion of whether and how to establish such a board.

Sincerely,

Brian Pugh

Ann Gallelli: Planning for our financial future

To the editor,ann2016

At Monday night’s Village Board work session, we were updated about the status of several capital projects that are underway including the improvements to Elliott Way, sidewalks and paving on Farrington and Hunter, the bridge and culvert replacement on the road to the Water Dept. offices and well field, and the installation of the corrosion control system for the Village’s water supply

These projects are critical to the well-being of the entire community – keeping us safe, updating our infrastructure, maintaining property values and adding to our quality of life.

These projects have been in-progress for a long time as, for better or for worse, capital projects take a very long time to initiate and carry out.  Beyond identifying a project or purchase, designing its details, applying for financial help where possible, working with affected neighbors, writing requests for proposals, reviewing bids, obtaining permits, authorizing contracts, and actually performing the work, can take a very long time.  The projects reviewed on Monday night  were  all identified and initial steps taken many years ago.  Fortunately, they are reaching fruition.

What does this tell us about the future?  We know there are projects and purchases that are necessary in the coming years.  Many have been identified in our 5 and 10-year Capital Plan. Others will be unexpected.  Among these are the Croton Point Avenue Improvement Project, a rehabilitation of the Half Moon Bay Bridge, two sanitation trucks, a replacement fire truck for the 20+ year old Engine 118, and more.  

While we are seeing completion of projects that were initiated many years ago, we are not seeing action on the Capital projects that have been identified for the future.  

Right now, we should be taking steps to move forward on these future capital requirements, especially while interest rates are relatively low.  As time goes by, construction and purchase costs are going to rise as are interest rates for financing these.  These are not optional items, but already identified as needed.  Prudent financial planning calls for taking the steps now to meet the identified needs of the future.

 

Ann Gallelli

Decoding Village Agendas –   August 14, 2017 Work Session of the Village Board 7: 30 p.m.  (Open to Public and Televised)

 

ann2016

 

  • Discussion about model ordinance for solar canopies within the Village.  The Model Law provides zoning provisions that promote solar energy systems while protecting community character and the environment.  I was developed by Sustainable CUNY and Pace University Land Use Law Center in conjunction with the New York State Power Authority. It is intended to promote solar energy systems with common local requirements and concerns.
  • Update on capital projects throughout theVillage, including Elliott Wat Improvement Project, Hunter Place/Farrington Sidewalk Project, Pumphouse road Culvert & Bridge Repair Project and Corrosion Control Project.  All of the above named projects are on going this summer.  Staff will update the Board on their progress towards completion.
  • Request by the Village Manager to enter into an executive session to discuss contract issues regarding the purchase of 435 & 439 Yorktown Rd.  If the request is granted, an executive session will be held.

 

 

Brian Pugh: Community Economic Development

Dear Neighbors:brian-pugh-group-cropped
As the most local level of government, the Village government should be taking the lead on community development.  Yet when it comes to substantive steps to stimulate investment in our Village the current administration’s record leaves much to be desired.
In 2015, the Croton United Party platform stated, “We will revive the Business Development Committee…and task it with doing just that – developing new relationships and nurturing the existing ones.”
This Committee was never reconvened and despite CU’s candidates repeatedly calling for capitalizing on the influx of visitors to our Village for events like the Blaze, there have been no concrete actions by the Village to do so.
The Village should take the lead in coordinating between our business community and the myriad of state, federal and county government agencies to make sure that Croton businesses can take advantage of opportunities like Small Business Administration loans, training grants and other incentives.
Finally, we should continue to monitor the progress of Harmon Rezoning, which allowed for mixed-use development on a section of South Riverside Avenue, and apply the lessons learned to other commercial districts.
Brian Pugh

Sherry Horowitz: The Immigrant Protection Act

Dear Neighbors:sherry2017

This letter is written in gratitude to Catherine Borgia, the Democratic majority leader, and our County Legislator, in the Westchester Board of Legislators, for sponsoring the Immigration Protection Act.

On Monday, August 7th, Borgia introduced the bill, which would limit the information the County shares with federal immigration authorities, and would also limit what County law enforcement can ask an individual about citizenship or immigration status. This is consistent with the policy adopted by Croton law enforcement to protect our neighbors from undue harassment, and is similar to policies that other Westchester municipalities have adopted. Borgia said “We introduced this bill as a public safety measure”. She said if made law, the act would send a message that immigrant residents don’t need to live in fear. Legislature Chairman Mike Kaplowitz said, “This is not a sanctuary bill, This is a welcome bill.”

Although the bill passed in a 10-5 vote, which included all 8 Democrats present and 2 Republicans, the County Executive, Republican Rob Astorino, said he will veto the bill.
If you are upset over the fact that immigrants who have lived in our communities for years: worked here, gone to school here, and are raising children here, are being picked up by ICE, detained and deported, I hope you will agree that Catherine Borgia is standing up for fairness and equal treatment for all in Westchester County. Let’s make sure she gets re-elected in November, and that Rob Astorino does not!
Sincerely, Sherry Horowitz,