A happy and healthy Thanksgiving to you and your families....and a great holiday season! Here are some things that we're thankful about in Greenburgh....
* Town has complied with the tax cap every year since the State Legislature recommended that local governments keep tax hikes under their recommended tax cap levy. We expect to comply with the tax cap again in 2015. A number of communities across NYS have been unable to comply every year since the cap was approved by the state.
* Town maintains Aaa bond rating from both Moody's and Standard & Poor's---an accomplishment only 1% of communities around the nation can be proud of. Communities around the nation have experienced bond rating declines. It's nice that Greenburgh continues to have the highest rating possible from two independent agencies. Our Aaa rating equates to over $200,000 in interest savings over the life of the debt service.
* The new sanitation truck that picks up garbage with an automated hand is now operational. And, we have received very few complaints. We're able to manage with one employee, not three on a truck and anticipate significant savings of your tax dollars.
* I meet on a regular basis with retired local management consultants, corporate executives who volunteer their time--offering valuable suggestions on how the town could be better managed. We started the 2015 budget process early in the year and they helped identify over a million dollars in new sources of revenue or cost reductions!
* Pleased that the town has started promoting organic recycling to residents- an initiative that will eventually reduce the amount of garbage by over 30%. Thanks to the Greenburgh Nature Center for leading the way!
*Glad that the town has been successful in collecting significant back taxes owed to us --an initiative that will continue.
* Thankful that many of the problems at the Town Court have been resolved. Over a year ago the Town Board contracted with an independent audit company to conduct a study of Town Court operations. The court has already implemented many audit recommendations leading to improved internal controls and efficiencies. We are about to embark on another study -- of our Public Works department.
* Glad that the town and villages within Greenburgh jointly purchased significant amounts of asphalt for road repaving, saving many thousands of dollars. Very pleased that New York State listened to our concerns and repaved W Hartsdale Ave, a road that was in desperate need of repaving. By collaborating with other municipalities in Westchester, the town has saved significant dollars with our reassessment initiative.
* The town is in the process of moving forward retrotitting our lights to more efficient LED lighting. Taxpayers will be thankful because there will be major savings of taxpayer dollars.
* Thanks to the Greenburgh Library Foundation and a grant from NYS, the library has invested in two self check machines that allow patrons to check out their own library materials --saving staff time and costs.
* Thank you, Town Clerk Judith Beville for overseeing our internship program for students. Many students have worked on interesting projects during the year and summer months. In 2014 one of our summer interns was profiled by SUNY Albany as one of their outstanding students and featured on WCBS radio for the work she did as an intern. And, last year a student intern was selected to compete in a game of JEOPARDY (he won a game!).
* Veterans Living history initiative -- Alan Hochberg and Steve Wittenberg have already conducted about 125 interviews of World War II and Korean conflict veterans. These interviews are broadcast non stop during the Memorial Day and Veterans day weekends. Each of the interviews is about half hour long. A new committee made up of veterans is planning a Veterans memorial at DeSanti Park on E Hartsdale Ave.
* Union Baptist Church located on Manhattan Ave celebrated their 100th birthday this year.
* We're moving ahead with rezoning plans to allow for car dealerships on Central Ave. Significant tax revenues!
* Saks 5th Ave outlet is opening up their new store on Route 119. The new outlet might motivate other high end stores to consider Central Ave and 119 for their stores in the coming years. A new yogurt store on E Hartsdale Ave is a big success. And- Ben's deli will shortly open up their new deli on Central Ave.
* 40 years ago I got my start in public life by successfully pushing for the closing of the Bronx River parkway on Sundays for bicyclists. In 2014 Bicycle Sundays celebrated their 40th anniversary.
* A gun range on Ardsley Road was shut down by Con Ed after bullet fragments hit a woman. Other bullet fragments were found on residential properties. Since this incident I have been contacted by others around the state who have experienced similar problems. We learned that outdoor gun ranges are not regulated by the state or federal governments. A new state of the art indoor gun range opened in a commercial area of Greenburgh (Elmsford) this fall.
* Over 5 years ago I organized a job club that has assisted the unemployed find work. We've helped over 200 people find part time or full time jobs. WJCS, the library and I also co-sponsor job forums during the year with excellent speakers who have helped people improve their job search strategies.
* The Comprehensive Plan Committee is revising their draft plan, based on community input. The new plan, once adopted by the Town Board will help us attract and keep businesses in the town, thereby improving our tax base.
* Very grateful that we're working with Edgemont community leaders and residents of the unincorporated section of Hastings on child pedestrian safety initiatives --which hopefully will lead to more sidewalks near schools.
* Pleased that our new water meters have enabled the water department to monitor individual water usage. We look for variances in usage and when someone's water use is higher than it usually is we contact them to determine if there is a leak. We have saved some residents thousands of dollars.
* Thankful to the snow angels, TV angels who volunteer their time helping the disabled and elderly clear their driveways of snow and remove old TV sets to the highway garage.
*Very pleased that construction has started on the affordable housing at the old waterwheel property in Ardsley. The new affordable housing units, once it opens up, will offer volunteer firefighters and municipal workers needed affordable housing opportunities. The building should be completed in 2015.
* Pleased that Mariano Rivera, one of the most dominant relievers in major league history opened up the Elmsford Little League games earlier this season. ALSO PLEASED that Madison Square Garden recently responded to a request I made to allow a limited number of students to visit their training facility which is located in Greenburgh ---and to interact with some of the stars at the facility.
* Thankful that the town opened to residents new outdoor exercise equipment at Travis park. A new playground at Yosemite Park also was dedicated.
Obviously, all of the above could not have been accomplished without an outstanding team of hard working town employees, department heads and Town Board members Kevin Morgan, Diana Juettner, Francis Sheehan, Ken Jones.
The above is just a handful of the happenings around town since last Thanksgiving that we can be thankful for. Have a great Thanksgiving.
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