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2007 YEAR IN REVIEW
Release Date: December 30, 2007
2007 was a significant year for the town government. It's been my policy to provide residents with an annual year in review. Thank you for your input and suggestions. Let's work together to make 2008 a great year. HAPPY NEW YEAR
NEW TOWN OFFICIALS: Voters elected a new management team: Kevin Morgan, Sonja Brown for the council and Judith Beville as our new Town Clerk. We also have a new Judge: Arlene Gordon Oliver. I'm looking forward to working with the new team and believe that the Town Board will function in a very cooperative manner during the next two years.
BUDGET: The 2007 and 2006 budgets had zero percent tax hikes. The Town Board learned a lesson--we're better off having gradual smaller tax hikes rather than dramatic swings and two consecutive zero tax hikes. The 2008 budget increased town taxes by 19.4%. The town taxes represent about 18% of your entire tax bill. A management/citizens budget committee is being formed to look for ways to cut costs, tighten up spending, increase sharing, manage your tax dollars in the most efficient manner.
EAST HARTSDALE AVE FLOODING: 2007 was a difficult year for E Hartsdale Ave. A major flood caused two apartment buildings to be temporarily evacuated. A number of businesses were closed for months. Spent a significant amount of time assisting businesses cut through red tape. We waived building permit fees, assigned inspectors to give the street priority attention, authorized a $60,000 study to come up with short term and long term recommendations so we can avoid a repeat incident. Most of the stores have re-opened. There are still two vacancies on the avenue. A restaurant (K Fungs) has been sold and will re-open under new management.
EAST HARTSDALE AVE SUMMER JAZZ CONCERTS: One of our most successful new initiatives was the summer jazz concert series on E Hartsdale Ave during the farmer's market. The concert series was not paid for by tax dollars but was sponsored by UniStar Federal Credit Union (a new business on the avenue).
DOBBS FERRY/GREENBURGH POLICE SHARING STUDY: The Greenburgh Town Board and Dobbs Ferry Village Board applied for a state grant to study ways to increase sharing in the police departments so we can reduce your tax bills and maintain outstanding law enforcement services.
FUND BALANCE POLICY: One of the reasons for the big tax hike in 2008: The Board had returned most of the fund balance (savings) to the voters during the previous two years-helping the town have two zero percent tax hikes. The Board learned from this mistake and approved a fund balance policy at the end of 2007 to guide future Town Boards regarding the use of fund balance. Our goal: we should try to match expenses with revenues and not rely on savings to fund additional town programs.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING: An affordable housing committee was formed. We're looking at 3 possible affordable housing proposals: WESTHAB wants to convert the former homeless shelter located near the county center into an affordable housing complex for low income working people. This is on private property. The Town Board voted to pursue selling land that we own in Ardsley (Waterwheel) to a developer for affordable housing for municipal workers and volunteer firefighters. We have already been offered $1 million+ for the property. And, we're working with Dobbs Ferry officials to convert 27 Main Street (also foreclosed property) into affordable housing.
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN: The Town Board hired a consultant to conduct a comprehensive plan for the town. The study will address long term infrastructure needs, land use, flood, parking and help us maximize the revenue we can generate on vacant parcels of land (economic needs study). I agreed to sign the $405,000 study only after other members of the Board agreed to support the proposed tennis bubble --which is summarized below.
TENNIS BUBBLE: The Board worked out an agreement to lease the town park's tennis courts to Sporttime. In return, we will received between $192,500 to $230,000 a year in rent, $2 million in capital improvements for the tennis courts. And, Sporttime will build a club house at their expense. The tennis courts will be privatized only during the winter months.
COMMUNITY HOSPITAL AT DOBBS FERRY- Our efforts to save the Community Hospital at Dobbs Ferry seems to be working. The hospital will not close down at the end of 2007. An agreement with the state is being finalized. I have been working closely with Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins on this initiative.
GASB The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) is requiring local governments to determine the cost of projected post employment benefits. We conducted an actuarial review.
Drug Court: We worked to successfully secure a federal grant that will help keep the drug court operational.
HARTSDALE PARKING SECURITY: We funded, in the capital budget, an internet camera to .improve security at Hartsdale parking – parking garage, pipeline using updated technology.
E HARTSDALE AVE PARKING-- Many residents of E Hartsdale Ave have complained about the lack of overnight parking. We're exploring options (short term and long term) to address this problem.
ENERGY CONSERVATION & HYDROGEN FACILITY: We held a Green living fair and organized efforts to promote energy conservation. A hydrogen facility providing training to mechanics on GM vehicles opened on 9A (former CIBA property). A small tank on property for hydrogen storage is protected by concrete billards. Hydrogen will be brought in by trucks, not produced onsite as was the case with the proposed Central Ave initiative that was withdrawn.
LIBRARY: Construction of the new library began in 2007. We demolished the old Town Hall. New satellite library locations were located at Town Hall and the Multipurpose Center. Discussions have started re: establishing an independent library district that would present budgets to the voters annually and be independent of town government. Construction of the new library is expected to be completed in the mid fall, 2008.
Richard Presser Park/WEBB FIELD: We had obtained a $97,000 grant from the federal government to landscape Webb Field and the area around the 9/11 wall. Worked started in 2007. The work includes a new sidewalk and attractive plantings. We renamed the park for Richard Presser who led the effort to acquire the property as open space. Mr. Presser also organized other successful open space initiatives (HartsBrook Nature Preserve).
DOG PARK: The Town Board approved funding for a dog park at E Rumbrook Park as part of the phase II East Rumbrook Park Improvement project. The park should be open in late 2008.
CHILDRENS GARDEN We assisted the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Westchester County in developing a children’s garden program at the Hart’s Brook Park & Preserve.
NEW HALLOWEEN FESTIVAL: We organized a new new Halloween-Fall Festival special event at the Hart’s Brook Park & Preserve that will utilize the facilities to include a hayride, entertainment and games.
MORE SHADE: We increased shading at the Anthony Veteran Park Pool complex.
MORE OUTDOOR MOVIES: In addition to the outdoor movie shown at the annual Celebrate Greenburgh Day at Veteran Park, we showed two other outdoor movies during the summer in other town owned neighborhood parks.
NEW ETHICS LAW: We approved new ethics laws restricting the ability of town officials from accepting campaign contributions from those who have proposals before the town or who have business with the town.
GENERATOR: Most communities do not have generators at their municipal buildings. We installed a generator at the town hall so that town government can function in the event of a power outage.
CON ED- We approved a new law regulating tree cutting by utilities.
TAX BREAKS FOR VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS/AMBULANCE CORP- The Town Board voted to approve 10% tax exemptions for volunteer firefighters and ambulance corp members. These breaks are authorized by the NY State Legislature.
RIDGE HILL: The Town Board setttled a lawsuit with Yonkers. We were reimbursed for our legal expenses ($450,000) and will receive $5 million to improve road intersections. We are working with Ardsley & Hastings to determine how best to use the $5 million. A task force was created exploring the feasibility of designing for construction of entry and exit ramps connecting the property to the Sprain Parkway.
MORATORIUM ON DEVELOPMENT ON CENTRAL AVE NOT APPROVED--The Town Board decided not to approve a moratorium on development on Central Ave.
SHERATON OPENS ON 119- A new Sheraton Hotel opened on 119. A super STOP N SHOP is being proposed next to the Sheraton Hotel. Starbucks wants to open up a store at the gaseteria on Central Ave. Construction of town houses has started on Knollwood Road. Construction of over $400 units of housing won Town Board approval near Taxter Road/119.