Brian Pugh: Citizen Action Makes It Happen

To The Editor:

brian-pugh-group-cropped

I was born and raised in Croton-on-Hudson and decided to come back here after college. Now, I live on North Riverside Avenue with my wife and enjoy exposing her to the many different sides of Croton that we all love. This past weekend was a prime example of the spirit of what makes Croton so special: our residents care about community and actively participate in community life.

 

On Sunday, residents came together to maintain the breathtaking Croton Gorge Unique Area as part of Love My Parks Day on the Old Croton Aqueduct; they supported the educational aspirations of our students at Croton Yacht Club Scholarship Dinner & Silent Auction; replenished lifesaving blood reserves as part of the Croton Community Blood Drive; supported the fair trade movement at the Plant & Bake Sale at the Holy Name of Mary; and enjoyed the arts at the the Croton Chorale presentation of Rachmaninoff’s “Vespers” at Asbury United Methodist Church, and the Spring Photo Show at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Hudson Valley.

 

Later this week, residents will join together to plant new native species at Brinton Brook Sanctuary on Friday, May 11 (6 PM to 8 PM) and learn about the power of solar energy to light our homes, trim our electric bills and protect our environment at the Solarize Croton-Cortlandt Workshop this Saturday, May 12 (10 AM) at the Hendrick-Hudson Free Library.

 

These wonderful community projects are the work of many dozens of people voluntarily joining together to improve our world. I have a deep appreciation for those who step up in big ways and small, because Margaret Mead is right: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

 

Brian Pugh

Advertisements

Decoding Village Agendas No. 404

Dear neighbor, Here is the 404th 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 –  May 9, 2018

Regular Meeting of the Board of Trustees

 

8:00 pm

(Open to Public  – Televised)

 

NOTE:   This meeting is on a Wednesday.

 

 

CORRESPONDENCE:

 

  • Email from Jennifer Pauly, Croton Climate Initiative, Regarding Plastic Bags.   Ms. Pauly requests, on behalf of CCI, that the Village Board place their reusable bag initiative on the upcoming May 14 work session.  CCI has gathered over 1000 signatures from local residents and over 45 local merchants in support of their proposal.  As stated in her email letter, the CCI proposal is as follows:

 

 

would prohibit stores and merchants in Croton from providing single-use plastic bags to customers. The RBI would also require that those stores that distribute the greatest number of bags, grocery stores and chain drugstores, charge a ten cent fee for paper bags, which must be composed of at least 40 percent post-consumer (recycled) paper. Plastic produce bags used in grocery stores, dry-cleaning bags, and newspaper bags are exempt. Smaller stores and restaurants would not have to charge for paper bags “

 

PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS:

 

 

  • Authorizing the Village Manager to award the contract for tree trimming and removal services to Golden’s Tree Service at the rate of $1,605.60 per day for a total of $48,168.00.   The Village received four bids for the work.  Golden’s was the lowest. The next highest was $80,250 and the highest was $164,400.  DPW Superintendent recommended accepting Golden’s bid. 
  • Authorizing the Village Manager to execute a cooperation agreement with Westchester County for the purposes of applying for future Community Development Block Grant funds.    This agreement would enable the Village to work with the County in applying for and obtaining CDBG grants.  These are federal grants allocated through HUD.  In the past, the Village obtained this type of funding for several improvement projects in the village.
  • Acknowledging receipt of the special permit renewal application for a Motor Vehicle Service Station and used car lot located at 365 South Riverside Avenue and referring it to the Planning Board for a recommendation back to the Board of Trustees.  This is the initial step in an application to renew its existing special permit at this location – the site of the former Dodge dealership and current site of a Happy Hearts child care facility.  After review and a recommendation by the Planning Board it will come back to the Village Board for a decision.

 

 

Brian Pugh: Special Savings on Electric Vehicles for Croton Residents

​To The Editor:brian-pugh-group-cropped

Thanks to our Village’s partnership with Sustainable Westchester, the nonprofit intermunicipal consortium, residents have the opportunity to see unique savings on the purchase of electric vehicles. By leveraging the buying power of its member communities, Sustainable Westchester has succeeded in securing a deal that allows consumers to buy an all-electric Nissan leaf for $17,490 after discounts, rebates and tax credits. The Leaf cost 50% less per mile than a traditional gasoline-fueled vehicle.

Beyond the economic benefits to consumers, though, this deal helps to achieve important environmental and public health goals by accelerating the deployment of electric vehicles (EVs). As many readers may know, the American Lung Association recently gave Westchester County’s air quality an F-rating–mainly due to air pollution from automobiles–EVs produce no tailpipe emissions.

In addition, EVs are essential to our fight against global warming. And the science shows that EVs today, using current technology, can get the job done.

A recent MIT study found that roughly 90 percent of the personal vehicles on the road daily could be replaced by a low-cost electric vehicle available on the market today. Moving to EVs would more than meet near-term U.S. climate targets for personal vehicle travel. Overall, when accounting for the emissions today from the power plants that provide the electricity, this would lead to an approximately 30 %reduction in emissions from transportation.

Deeper emissions cuts would be realized as our electric grid switches to renewables overtime. Indeed, NY’s solar capacity has grown by 1,000% since 2011. Further progress is being made as our state works through our state energy plan towards the target of 50% of electricity from renewable source by 2030.

It took the world 20 years to get the 1st million EVs on the road – but 18 months for the 2nd million, and only 8 months for the 3rd. EVs are coming fast and we appreciate the work of Sustainable Westchester on behalf of our communities to speed that progress and save our residents money in the process.

To learn more about Sustainable Westchester electric vehicle discount program, visit SustainableWestchester.org, cleantransportation@sustainablewestchester.org or call their Mount Kisco office at (914) 242-4725.

Sincerely,

Brian Pugh

Amy Attias: Make Your Voice Heard!

To The Editor: fre-sonneveld-powerlines.jpg

This week, I watched a Facebook feed about local business on the Croton Community Page, and was thrilled to realize that I was watching the possibilities of democracy in action. (On Facebook, which might be a bit ironic.) People were discussing concerns about the difficulty of sustaining businesses in Croton, and were also offering forward-looking ideas, many of them creative and wonderful and exciting. Other community Facebook conversations have addressed many local issues, and it is wonderful to see the exchange of ideas that would not otherwise happen.

Part of what drew me to Croton 16 years ago was its progressive, highly creative community. That spirit manifests in all places, including Facebook. That spirit also led me to run for local governmental office, so it is so exciting to see great ideas from people who live here, and now be part of a Village Board that can help “incubate” those ideas and facilitate the high creative Croton approach to what we would like for our Village.

For example, the Village recently was approached by a small group of residents who put together a well researched, well planned idea for a pop-up Farmer’s Market at Vassallo Park, which will also include local art and music talent. We were thrilled to support this venture. We would welcome the opportunity to work with individual projects, but perhaps more importantly, at some time in the near future we will be looking for a group of knowledgeable and interested residents to form a group to look at this issue together.

Democracy in action also takes another form this week, as we have been given the opportunity to respond to a New York State Department of Public Service (DPS) initiative investigating the response of utilities, including Con Edison, in the last storm. The state is looking for information such as how you were affected by the outages, whether you received accurate and timely information from the utility, and your overall impressions about Con Ed’s response.

Comments can be submitted by telephone or email. The number for the 24-hour, toll-free Opinion Line is 1-800-335-2120. Emails should be sent to Kathleen H. Burgess at secretary@dps.ny.gov. Emails should reference “Matter 18-00618” and/or the “March 2018 Winter Storms Investigation.”

Issues like bringing in new businesses that can be sustained is not something a town board can do on its own. Our Village is a pretty amazing place. Government acting together with residents and business owners will make our beloved little spot even better.

Sincerely,

Amy Attias

 

Ann Gallelli: Discounts for Village Seniors

To the editor,ann2016

Here are a few points to consider on the institution of a $20 season pass rate for Silver Lake for resident seniors. 

  • In Croton, senior residents (over 62) get a Parks & Recreation Photo Id for free.
  • While the $20 season pass allows for unlimited access, the cost for an individual visit to  Silver Lake park is $1 for senior residents with their ID. For many who don’t visit more than 20 times in a season, this is a very low-cost alternative to the season pass.

 

For comparison purposes, Briarcliff Manor charges its Seniors $125 for a season pass to their pool.  The Town of Cortlandt charges $68 for a senior season pass to Charles Cook pool or a $4.75 daily fee in addition to its $7 charge for a photo id.

 

Although we never like to increase fees, this fee was adopted to help cover the cost of improvements being made at Silver Lake. This past winter, the Village Board agreed to upgrade a path down to Silver Lake beach from the parking lot.  This improvement was suggested by some residents, local seniors, who came to the Village seeking a safer access to the park. The Board supported this idea and included it in the budget. Work on it is expected to begin in the next few weeks in time for the season.  It will improve access for everyone.

 

Additionally, it should be noted that the Parks & Recreation Dept. has a financial aid program to ensure that all residents have full access to Village parks and programs regardless of their financial situations.  Applications are available in the Recreation Office through June 1. All information will be confidential.

 

I believe that most seniors would find that paying $1/day entrance fee on top of zero charge for a Photo ID, plus the improved path to the beach, is well worth it for the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful summer park facility.  

 

Ann Gallelli

 

Brian Pugh: Announcing The Adopted 2018-19 Budget

brian-pugh-group-croppedTo The Editor:

I am happy to report that on Monday, April 23, our Village Board adopted the 2018-19 budget. I would like to thank Village Manager Janine King, Village Treasurer Sandra Bullock, the department heads and my colleagues on the Board of Trustees for collaborating on a smart budget for FY 2018-19.

The Village faced several challenges in this budget cycle: increasing health insurance costs, greater pension contributions, and finalizing a contract with our largest municipal unit (and closing a contract that had expired back in 2016). But we were able to deliver a budget with a modest 0.47% increase (well below the 2% cap, saving taxpayers almost $200,000). We also limited growth in total Village government appropriations to below the rate of inflation.

Our 2018-19 budget achieved all of this without any reduction in the services our community relies on and expects from our Village government. The range and quality of these services (e.g., building permits, courts, code enforcement, emergency medical services, fire, parks, police, roads, recycling, senior programs, sewers, snow removal, trash disposal, water and zoning) are an integral part of the high quality of life we enjoy in this community.

To maintain this balance between taxes and services we must be proactive and budget strategically. As a Board, we will continue to work with the Village staff and the larger community to control costs while preserving the amenities and quality of life that we all cherish.

Sincerely,

Brian Pugh

Ian Murtaugh: Community Solar Lights The Way

To the editor,  pexels-photo-411592.jpeg

Last Friday I attended a ribbon cutting of a new solar installation in Montrose which shows the promise of community solar.  Community solar is an initiative which gives access to smart power to those who do not, or for whatever reason, cannot have their own systems.  Quality Circle Products is hosting an array of panels on their roof, which benefits them both through hosting fees and reduced power costs, and their neighbor subscribers who are getting reduced energy bills.   Quality Circle has a nice big roof and are in effect sharing it with others.

This safe renewable power source is a reliable and welcome addition to our energy toolkit as we try to reduce sourcing power from extractables.  This installation was brought about by a committed and environmentaliy minded business owner, private companies whose expertise was necessary, Sustainable Westchester and local and county governments who believe in the future of community solar and helped facilitate it.  I am convinced this is just the beginning of something really big!

Respectfully submitted,

Ian Murtaugh

Trustee

Village of Croton-on-Hudson

A Note From The Chair

To the Editor:Screenshot 2018-04-27 at 7.36.52 AM

I believe that citizen involvement is the basis of a functioning democracy, on every level of government, and applaud those who do so in the interests of improving our communities, or correcting that which is unfair or unjust. I am always concerned, however, when such involvement acts as a cover for partisan political gamesmanship.

Mr. Steinberg wrote a lengthy piece a couple of weeks ago, the vast majority of which was dedicated to pointing out what he considers to be the “shabby look” of the Upper Village, due to some shop owners having allowed the displaying of “advertising fliers” in their windows. His vision of the Upper Village is that it’s look should conform to the sole positive example he cites – ASAP Mortgage – which he considers to be a model. He says “If every business owner and landlord followed their example,” and kept their “glass clean… the Upper Village would be a better place.”

Neither Mr. Steinberg nor I have any idea why some business owners in our village might choose to allow their storefronts to be more liberally used by those who are looking to communicate with their neighbors. He is of course within his rights to express his disapproval of their choices. And he has every right to offer a range of solutions — as he does, at great length.

Had that been the entirety of his piece, I would applaud him for his efforts, even though his views do not represent mine, nor those of many others in this Village who may not agree with his wishes to impose his aesthetic vision on our neighbors. But that does not seem to be the entirety of what his piece aimed to accomplish.

Mr. Steinberg began his comments with an assertion that “the Village” (i.e. the current Board of Trustees and Mayor) has no interest and has done nothing to address local issues, while instead spending its time on state and national issues. Of course this is wildly incorrect. The vast majority of the work with which Mayor Pugh and the Trustees have concerned themselves since taking office four and a half months ago has obviously and provably involved local issues. That being said, there are also important subjects on the state and federal levels on which our Village (often in concert with other municipalities) has felt the need to comment. This is in no way irregular, nor is it evidence of a lack of interest or concern for the issues arising in our village. It is merely an example of thoughtful leadership – paying attention to the broader needs of our residents, while building lines of communication with our sister municipalities and state and federal officials whose decisions affect us all.

Finally, it seems odd that Mr. Steinberg did not raise his complaints about the “shabby look” of the Upper Village during the two years in which the previous administration was in complete control. Did the offending fliers suddenly appear in December? It seems clear that this piece, rather than being about civic improvement, was rather meant to attack the current Village elected officials, who Mr. Steinberg did not support, after two years of giving a pass to the previous administration which he did support.

Richard Masur, Chair
Croton Democratic Committee

Decoding Village Agendas No. 403

Dear neighbor, Here is the 403rd 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 –  April 23, 2018

 Meeting of the Board of Trustees

 

8:00 pm

(Open to Public  – Televised)

 

Note:  This is a SPECIAL Meeting of the Board to adopt the budget  for FY 2018/2019.

 

 

PUBLIC HEARING:

Public Hearing to consider Local Law Introductory No. 4 of 2018 to repeal the prior tax cap override Local Law 3 of 2018 and reinstates the tax levy limits imposed by General Municipal Law §3-c.    The Village Board had previously adopted a Tax Override law on February 20, 2018.  This is done to protect the Village from being penalized by the state if the adopted budget were to exceed the state-imposed Tax Levy limit.  As this is not going to be the case, the Override Law must be  rescinded prior to adopting the Fiscal Year 2018/2019 budget.

 

 

PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS

  1. Village Board to consider adoption of the budget for fiscal year commencing June 1, 2018 and ending May 31, 2019.    A public hearing on the proposed budget was held on April 2, 2018.  The Board has met with the Departments and the Manager and Treasurer to review  the budgets  over several meetings beginning in March.   The NYS Tax Levy Cap was set at 2% this year. The actual Tax Levy Cap being proposed is 0.47% for the FY 2018/2019.  The initial proposed tax levy increase in the Tentative budget, prior to its review, was 1.85%.  This will result in an increase of $1.206 for every $1000 of Assessed Valuation.   Budgets for the water fund, Sewer Fund and Debt Service are also adopted in this resolution.  The Capital Fund will be considered in June.
  2. To add the past due receivables to the tax bills for the fiscal year June 1, 2018 through May 31, 2019.   This resolution allows past due bills to be added to the tax bills of the properties for which they are due. The total amount of past due receivables for the General Fund are $2,700. The total amount for Water and Sewer unpaid bills is $94,501.
  3. To authorize the Mayor to sign the Tax Warrant for the collection of taxes for the period commencing June 1, 2018 through May 31, 2019.  This resolution directs the Treasurer to collect the taxes based on the approved budget and assessment roll..
  4. Consider adoption of the Master Fee Schedule for 2018-19.   The Village began adopting a Master Fee schedule in 2003 in order to have all the fees available in one place rather than distributed throughout the code.    The fees include charges from all the departments according to the costs associated with the specific service rendered.

Ann Gallelli: Your Tax Dollars At Work!

ann2016To the Editor,

This week the Board of Trustees will conclude its budget review in advance of adopting a budget for the fiscal year 2018/2019. During this process, the Board has met with every department covered in the budget over several meetings starting in late March.

A new feature of this year’s budget review has been the inclusion of an annual report to the Board by each department head. These reports provide a detailed overview of all the activities that each department is responsible for during the year. The Agenda section on the Village Home page, crotononhudson-ny.gov, will lead you to the budget work session agendas where these reports are part of the backup documentation.

If you have asked yourself what a particular department does or is responsible for, you should look at these reports. You will be amazed at the multitude of responsibilities of our work force. It is a good place to start in terms of understanding the many ways in which each Village departments enhances our Village experience.

Ann Gallelli