Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Rockin' Chanukah at Scarsdale Synagogue

This event is sure to be a fun and rocking celebration for adults.

“Eight Nights a Week”, featuring two cover bands.  The first band, “The New Originals” plays a mix of music including everything from Tom Petty to Pink Floyd.  Following the first band will be a five guy Beatles band which covers everything Beatles from “All My Lovin’” to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.  To compliment the music we will be serving cheese/crackers, latkes, donuts, beer, wine and vodka drinks.  The dance floor will be open if you’re in the mood or you can simply sit back and kibbitz with your friends and family.

Doors will open at 8:00 pm and music will run through the evening until around midnight.  Rabbi Brown will be conducting a Havdalah service and candle lighting to begin the festivities.

The cost for the evening will be $36 per person in advance or $40 at the door.  You can pay by cash, check or credit card.  

Scarsdale Synagogue is a reform Jewish congregation located at 2 Ogden Road in Scarsdale, NY.  914.725.5175. 

Hineinu - We are here
Creating a Covenant Community
Of Shared Lives and Real Relationships

2017 Fire Commissioner Results

Current Fairview Fire Commissioner Vikki Simmons was reelected in Fairview with 67 votes. Appointed to fulfill a vacated seat in the Hartsdale Fire District 8 months ago found Hartsdale Fire Commissioner Robert Iamonico reelected by a vote of 407-368 against Mona Fraitag.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Fire District Elections This Tuesday, Dec 12th

Our previous article about the fire district elections focused on a debate held in Hartsdale between Bob Iamonico and Mona Fraitag. It was readily apparent to the audience of about 50 of so people that Mr Iamonico had a better firematic command of the evening than his opponent, Ms Fraitag. After listening to both candidates, Ms Fraitag seemed lost with many of the questions. Clearly, her lack of knowledge about the responsibilities of a Fire Commissioner, even though she claims to attend every Fire Commissioner meeting, was glaring and why we found Mr Iamonico the more favorable candidate.

This Tuesday night, with somewhat varying times, will be the elections for the position of Fire Commissioner for the three fire districts in the Town. In Hartsdale, the election will be held at the Hartsdale Fire Station #1 between 3pm and 9pm; Fairview’s will be between 4pm and 9pm at both fire stations; Greenville’s will also be between 4pm and 9pm. In Fairview and Greenville, there is only one candidate seeking office. The Fairview candidate seeking re-election is Vickki Simmons. The candidate seeking election in Greenville is Warren Hershkowitz.

Interestingly, Mr Feiner went after Ms Simmons after attacking the former Fairview Fire Chief Anthony LoGiudice. Chief LoGiudice apologized to Mr Feiner for comments made some twenty years earlier per Mr Feiner’s request, then he refused to accept the apology and continued his assault against him in the media and with email blasts. By the way, Mr Feiner has yet to apologize to the Fortress Bible Church or the taxpayers after being found guilty of discrimination, destroying evidence and costing the Unincorporated taxpayers $6.5 million dollars in fines.

Then he and his cohorts turned on Ms Simmons. Ms Simmons is known to do the right thing and perform her duties beyond reproach with fire district issues. Mr Feiner, along with his lead surrogate Milt Hoffman (now deceased), accused Ms Simmons of doing a number of illegal things in order to promote her son to Captain in the Fairview FD. Not only was the vote to promote him to Captain unanimous, Ms Simmons abstained from voting for obvious reasons. When the next election took place, Mr Feiner backed his hand-picked candidate, Ms Claire Pizzuti who now sits on the Board. We believe this was nothing but another one of Mr Feiner’s diversion tactics to take public attention away from his failings at the time.

Ms Pizzuti was elected. In the next subsequent election, now retired Fairview firefighter John Malone was elected to the newly open seat. We are unsure if he was also backed by Mr Feiner. But the goal by Mr Feiner is to get three (a majority vote) seats on the three Boards of Commissioners to push for a referendum vote to consolidate the fire districts. Once that were to happen, his surrogates would cede control to the Town, similar to the control over what happens with the police department and in particular their budget!

We’ve heard a rumor that Feiner-friendly resident Don Cannon picked up a petition in order to run for Fire Commissioner in Fairview but never handed it in. Why not? Did he change his mind or is there an ulterior motive? What concerns us is that Feiner and Cannon might attempt a stealth write-in campaign for the commissioner position that Ms Simmons is seeking. We believe Mr Feiner’s long-range goal is to gain control of at least three Fire Commissioners in Fairview and Hartsdale so as to push them to vote for consolidation of the districts as it must be voted upon by the commissioners. We also believe that Mr Feiner will not replace paid firefighters when they retire so as to bring down overall manning levels,  as he did with the Greenburgh PD. Could Mr Feiner be scheming to forcibly drive down the Fire Tax by $1,000, giving him a $1,000 budgetary increase to play with in Town Tax?

In the end, after speaking with all the commissioners in the three departments, studying their budgets and listening to the consolidation, dispatching and personnel arguments from both sides, we believe the fire districts are operating well and with little or no waste in their budgets. We invite residents to go to the meetings and see and hear for themselves. Voting for representation on the fire commissioner boards is a five-year term. Use your best judgement as to whom you choose. It will make for A Better Greenburgh.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Fraitag Trounced In Hartsdale Debate

The Fire Districts are having their annual elections on Tuesday, December 12. In Hartsdale it will be held at the Hartsdale Fire Station #1 between 3pm and 9pm, The date and times are different than the regular elections held in November. There are two seats open in the Hartsdale Fire District. One is uncontested, running unopposed is Peter Woods and the other, already filled by appointment with Robert Iamonico, is a seat that was vacated and has two-years left in its term. Mr Iamonico and Ms Mona Fraitag are vying for this seat. All commissioner positions have a term of five years.

Mr Iamonico is a retired Eastchester paid firefighter having started as a volunteer firefighter. Ms Fraitag has worked tirelessly on appointed committees within the Town for Mr Feiner. She claims that since this is a volunteer position, all she has to “lose” is her time. She also stated that she is the only resident that attends fire district commissioner meetings month after month. And yet she still was unable to explain to the audience what the role of the fire commissioner is when asked by an audience member.

Both candidates said they wanted to help the fire district save money, possibly through consolidation and budget trimming. Iamonico stated “Everything is on the table.” Ms Fraitag questioned why we need three career chiefs (Fairview FD, Hartsdale FD and Greenville FD), although she admitted that Greenville is not a factor due to their involvement in the Edgemont incorporation pursuit. But the consolidation of Fairview and Hartsdale's fire districts cannot easily be done and would require a host of things to happen, including a referendum. 

So, while the discussion to eliminate one position has been pushed by Mr Feiner and his ilk, she also admitted she did not want to eliminate personnel. Huh? Why bother to consolidate positions and then not eliminate one person? Would that one salary and benefits change the paradigm of fire operations? Of course not - there would not be any advantage when you break down the roughly $200k salary and benefits by the amount of total taxpayers funding that salary.

This seems to be a politically motivated idea we’ve heard every election time from Mr Feiner. His goal is to get a majority of his hand-picked people into the fire districts as commissioners so they can push for a referendum to ultimately allow Mr Feiner to somehow take over the fire districts’ budgets and control of the fire departments. This would be similar to him controlling the police department. 

Ms Fraitag also fell back to the stale argument of changing the department’s dispatching from an internal one to utilizing 60-Control, the County dispatching service. She stated savings could be had by switching to 60 Control and/or utilizing civilian dispatchers. At no point did she offer any facts or figures to back up her argument of possible savings, differences in costs or how it would affect the district and its residents. When asked how much could be saved, she said she didn't know because she is on the outside looking in and needs to be on the inside to get this information. We found this interesting since again, she claims to be at every fire commissioner meeting. If she didn’t have an answer she either fell back to the same "on the outside looking in" argument or sat there silent. The audience did not seem receptive to changing the dispatch system no matter how many times she suggested it. Ms Fraitag repeatedly asked, "Don't you want to at least look at other ideas?" Many shouted, No!”

Ironically, 60-Control was developed under the leadership of then Elmsford Fire Department’s former Chief Raymond Rush, deceased father of Hartsdale fire Chief Edward Rush. The senior Rush was also the first administrator of the Richard A Flynn Fire Training Center in Valhalla, where 60-Control resides. He was instrumental in moving it from the County Police Department's basement to its current location. The reasoning was that police and fire departments have different needs and requirements and as such should be separate. Currently, the 60 Control dispatchers are EMS dispatchers while the County Police are not.

The evening was peppered by questions from the audience. At one point, Mr Chip Nanko, a Hartsdale Fire union representative stood and addressed Ms Fraitag, asking why she repeatedly refused to meet with the union members and leadership? After a long pause, she finally responded that they had treated her in an abrasive manor. The crowd shifted uncomfortably in their seats. If you want to be a commissioner, even for only two years, you have to have a thick skin and strong constitution. That includes doing things you don’t like or want to do.

Certainly, Mr Iamonico has the necessary firematic background to perform in the position of a commissioner. Ms Fraitag, touting old and hollow arguments, has two goals, to eliminate a chief officer position and change the dispatching system. But she wouldn’t or couldn’t offer any facts or figures as to why these two moves would be advantageous. In fact, when Mr Feiner tried this in Fairview, these two ideas were quickly dispelled by ABG and others. 

Finally, while Mr Feiner and Ms Fraitag seek to eliminate one Chief officer position and have stopped including the Greenville Fire Department, they would better serve their constituency by focusing on Town finances, lawsuits, guilty verdicts and budgetary concerns. The fire districts’ budgets and operations seem to be running just fine. If Ms Fraitag wishes to be a commissioner in Hartsdale, she should focus on the Hartsdale Fire District and not worry about the Fairview Fire District. If she is so concerned to learn from the inside, perhaps she should become a volunteer firefighter in the Hartsdale Fire Department and really learn what it’s all about. It’s for these reasons we endorse Mr Iamonico for fire commissioner. It will help make for A Better Greenburgh.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Other Side of A One-sided Story

Each year Mr Feiner sends an email blast and snail-mail mailing highlighting his “accomplishments” during the year. He sent this list out for Thanksgiving. As always, we found it necessary to set his record straight and present the other side of his story. We’re sure there will be another list sent around the New Year’s holiday time. We’ll be back for that one as well. Mr Feiner's comments are in black, ours in blue.
There are lots of initiatives that have taken place since last Thanksgiving to be thankful for. Here are some!
* Greenburgh approves site plan for Regeneron's potential 1,000,000 Sq Ft Expansion- the largest commercial expansion in recent town history. The town anticipates millions of dollars in additional revenue and great new jobs. We have become the bio tech capitol of the Hudson Region!
The reality is that Mt Pleasant, adjacent to Greenburgh has had more of the development while Greenburgh gets more of the parking space land use. Regeneron was close to going out of business several years ago and remarkably has bounced back. 
* Our town received a $250,000 grant to redesign Route 119 and to make the road more bicycle/pedestrian friendly.
This grant is for several communities so the reality is that not much will be done with the amount of money once it is doled out.
* The Xposure after school program --student produced radio program - was nominated for two EMMY awards. How many other 10 and 11 year olds--anywhere- receive EMMY award nominations?
This is great for the kids but as we’ve mentioned previously, the program at the Theodore Young Community Center is not run by or affiliated with the Town.
* The South County bike trail now connects to the North County bike trail - an initiative cyclists from around the region have been seeking for years! We lobbied the county to implement this initiative for years.
While Mr Feiner is an avid bicyclist, the Town did little to make this happen. Several area biking groups pushed for this.
* The town received almost $5,000,000 from NYS for water infrastructure enhancements - the 2nd largest grant in the Hudson Valley from NYS!
Sadly, Greenburgh’s infrastructure has been ignored for far too long. Had regular maintenance been performed as required, we would not be in need of large grants to fix everything.
* Our budgets and taxes come under the NYS tax cap. Unlike some other governments in the region we have never approved a budget that exceeds the tax cap.
While the budget may come in under the tax cap, it does not negate a tax increase as too many portions of the budget(s) are exempt from it.
* The town maintained our Aaa bond rating from both Standard & Poor's and Moody's - an accomplishment most town, school, village  state, and federal governments have not achieved. The triple A bond rating enables the town to save hundreds of thousands of dollars when we borrow for infrastructure enhancements each year.
This is like a magician’s slight-of-hand routine. The AAA bond rating is really just verifying that the Town has enough taxpayers who can cover most of the Town’s expenses. Plus, since we never really use it, it’s like kissing your sister: it just doesn’t mean anything.

* Our proactive measures dealing with anticipated storms seem to be paying off. A major storm in Westchester this fall resulted in 6,000 people out of power in Westchester -only 22 people out of power in Greenburgh. Con Ed & the town have an active tree trimming program--we trim branches hanging over wires and remove trees that are dead that could impact power lines.
Again, while Con Ed is more responsible than the Town for tree trimming, the Town does have an arborist and the Town does trim trees. The proactive measures need to include more than just trimming some trees near a power line. While tree trimming is a good first effort, all drains, especially in flood prone areas need to be cleaned out; debris near and in the rivers need to be removed; the Bronx and Saw Mill rivers need to be dredged and that debris needs to be removed, not left nearby where it can float back into the river.
* We are following the lead of the village of Scarsdale and will be establishing a food recycling location at AF Veteran park. Turning food scraps into compost is good for the planet and could save the town significant dollars.
This seems to be more of the “feel good” press releases that Mr Feiner will utilize whenever he has nothing significant to report.
* We have been successful collecting back taxes owed and reduced the number of properties facing foreclosure from almost 500 a few years back to less than 55.
As we’ve said before, the Town was delinquent in performing their legally required job by procrastinating on the foreclosed and zombie houses in the Town for so long.
* The town, police department and Phelps hospital partnered on a pedestrian safety initiative. Thousands of free reflectors being distributed to pedestrians. Don't wear dark clothing.
Having the Town give away Phelps donated reflective armbands is a good idea. But in this day and age of Big Brother seeming to control our every move(s), is telling us not to wear dark clothes the best Mr Feiner can offer?
* New sidewalks were built: on Benedict on the Tarrytown border and on Secor Road.  We received a very large grant from NYS -$792,000 to build a new sidewalk on Central Ave from Marion to W Hartsdale Ave.  Hopefully, that sidewalk will be built next year. New sidewalks being planned on Columbia Ave in Hartsdale, Juniper Hill in Fairview. We plan to replace an asphalt playground on Glendale Road with an asphalt sidewalk leading to the Greenville School. And -plan more sidewalks around the town.
Plan more sidewalks? Really? The only planning really going on with sidewalks is the requirement for developers to put sidewalks in front of their projects. That’s the only reason we are getting as many as we are. Again, 25 years of a lack of planning is being turned around as a good thing.
* We created a curb making the library more accessible for the disabled. And redesigned the circle near the library to make it easier for cars to pick up and drop of library patrons.  We plan to increase parking at the library and appropriated funds to make this happen.
Poor planning and inferior design by the lead agency, actually the Town Board, is what was and still is wrong with the library’s design. From the inadequate public/community meeting rooms, the inadequate and oft-failing HVAC system, the unusable heat pump system, the parking is atrocious. They removed a few islands and made the center circle smaller to allow cars to pass parked cars. They should have left the original parking behind the building as it was and not planted grass and install a curb.
* We replaced and upgraded water mains in Mayfair Acres--an important water infrastructure project and repainted more water tanks. Juniper Hill water tank was completed.
Again, lack of infrastructure maintenance is not something to brag about.
* We approved a lease with a private company to place a bubble at our tennis court at E Rumbrook park--providing residents with indoor tennis opportunities. The bubble opened today!
Yes, it’s open and now residents have to pay this for-profit company to allow them limited access/times to the Town tennis courts.
* We are making the town more efficient - 6200 new properties now receive garbage collection services from our new sanitation trucks (which use one employee, not three). Fewer worker compensation claims. We hope to expand recycling services in 2018--one day a week pickup for both paper and commingles[sic].
First, we were told there would be a study. There wasn’t. Second, we were told this would only be used on flat properties. It’s not. Third, we were told it was only a pilot program. Not only was it not, they bought another truck.
* New affordable housing at the waterwheel property (foreclosed property which the town turned over to Ardsley) opens. 22 housing units.
The Ardsley Fire Department had sought to purchase this property after the fire to develop workforce housing specifically for Ardsley volunteer firefighters, ambulance personnel and municipal workers. Their approach was similar to the successful Livingston Manor project the Dobbs Ferry Fire Department created. Several residents are not volunteers or municipal workers but workforce residents. The Ardsley Fire Department was turned down.
* New parking lot at Taxter Ridge built at expense of developer --making it easier for hikers to take advantage of this spectacular hiking trail.
This should have been done upon completion of the park.
* Our intern program had a very successful year. Student interns interviewed many well known and not so well known leaders -including the writer of the best play on Broadway: TONY AWARD winner JT Rogers and Joe Queenan, columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Students host their own cable TV program. 
Kudos to these kids.
* A new Town Judge was appointed - former Edgemont School Board member Bonnie Orden. Town Justices  Walter Rivera and Arlene Gordon Oliver were appointed or elected to higher Judicial positions.
Basically, more of the same. Is this so Mr Feiner can have favorable decisions levied in his favor?
* The US Coast Guard listened to citizens and killed (at least temporarily) plans to park barges along the Hudson River.
While we did not favor the Coast Gurds decision to create a river parking lot, this had very little, if anything to do with the Town.
* Woodlands High School students received $5.3 million in scholarships upon graduation. The town is working with the school district on an exciting technology initiative.
Kudos to these kids.
* The building department demolished unsafe buildings on Teramar Way and they took steps to demolish an unsafe home on McLean.
Long overdue after waiting almost 10 years for the Town to act on zombie, foreclosed upon and abandoned homes.
* The Greenburgh police department did a great job organizing terrific community outreach efforts: at Town Hall, at the scene of a crime and on Halloween.
They always do.
* Fewer burglaries in the entire town of Greenburgh than in the village of Scarsdale (which is much smaller). Our burglaries are down, thanks to the excellent proactive work of our police department.
Interestingly, while crime trends are somewhat random, it was only about a year or so ago that Edgemont had a spike in crime. The police department put more officers in the area and lo and behold crime went down. Similarly, traffic enforcement has been practically eliminated on many streets known for speeding and now safety for those taxpayers walking has been compromised.
* NYS rebuilding the Payne Street bridge overlooking the Sprain Parkway
This is a NYS Department of Transportation repair and the Town is not involved in it.
* We recognized the Atlantic Starr musicians from Fairview and renamed a street in their honor. At one point their music was number one world wide!
Kudos to these musicians.
* We are implementing additional safety features -more blinking crosswalk lights near schools.  A safety crosswalk off of Ravensdale, Jackson Ave and Route 9
Again, long overdue and something that should have been recognized and done years ago.
* Thanks to the generosity of many, the Lois Bronz Children's Center received donations of backpacks for children whose families can't afford them.  The community has been supportive of our partnership with the Dobbs Ferry food pantry--and frequently drops off food at the bin at Town Hall.
When our taxpayers have any money left in their wallets between tax increases, Town Board guilty verdicts and fines, they are most generous.
* Councilman Francis Sheehan, while he recovered from surgery, took advantage of modern technology by participating and voting at Town Board meetings from the comforts of his home---using Skype.  I think that when members of Congress or the State Legislature can't attend a meeting of their legislatures that they should also participate by Skype.
When congress doesn’t meet, our government becomes more affordable. While we’re glad Mr Sheehan recovered, his not being there would not have changed any decisions made.
* We replaced the roof at the Theodore Young Community Center. Patrons using our indoor pool now will benefit from more natural light!
This was a necessary infrastructure repair.
* We're replacing the roof at the Manor House, Greenburgh Nature Center.
This was a necessary infrastructure repair.
* A very successful motorcycle safety event across from Greenburgh Town Hall sponsored by the Greenburgh police department and motorcycle enthusiasts.
Kudos to these participants.
* Over 400 residents of Greenburgh now have installed solar panels to power their homes. We sponsored with Solarize Westchester an initiative to promote solar power.
While supporting this private company, the Town gave an unfair advantage to one private company. Had the Town held a forum and invited different companies to participate, it would have been more ethically sound.
* We have been closing down massage facilities in town involved in prostitution and illegal activities. A new law requires the licensing of massage establishments.
If they are breaking the law, they should be pursued. Otherwise, if there is no evidence of wrong-doing, they should be left to operate by the newly enacted laws put in place.
* The new hotel tax was implemented -enabling the town to shift some of our costs of operating government to hotel guests, not taxpayers.
Here’s another example of a tax pushed by Assemblyman Abinanti, who never heard of a tax he didn’t like along with his buddy Mr Feiner, all while helping to make Westchester and in particular Greenburgh less and less attractive to travel, (to) whether for business or pleasure.
* Greenburgh and the villages have eliminated duplication--separate assessors and now use one assessor.
And yet we haven’t seen any reduction in our taxes, Village taxes or any appreciable savings. 
Thank you for re-electing me as Greenburgh Town Supervisor. I begin my 27th year as Town Supervisor in January. Proof of why there should be term limits. Congratulations to Councilman Francis Sheehan and Councilwoman Diana Juettner for winning re-election and for working very hard during the year on all of the above initiatives. And, either going along with my mandates or risk being “Sonya’d” and covering his butt when he opens his mouth and sticks his foot in it. And, thank you to Town Council membersKen Jones and Kevin Morgan for their dedication and great ideas. We’re still waiting for a great idea. Town Clerk Judith Beville also won re-election and coordinates with Town Attorney Tim Lewis our terrific internship program. Without interns, who by the way receive a skewed view of public service at Hillside Avenue, we would never see much get accomplished under this administration. And, Receiver of Taxes Anne Povella also was re-elected this November. One of the reasons why our bond rating is so high is because people pay their taxes! Let’s not forget this is in addition to all the penalties, fines and judgments that Mr Feiner wrought upon us. Also- thank you to all the department heads and town employees who make our town such a great place to live. We’ve been saying for years that our employees are our greatest asset. And to residents of the community who speak out and tell us what is needed to make Greenburgh a better place to live and work. Mostly the G10 who attend the numerous meetings of the commissions, boards, etc., put in place so Mr Feiner can have plausible deniability by saying it was, “Their decision, not mine.” We encourage volunteering - many residents are involved in citizen boards that meet monthly or more frequently. There [sic] work is also greatly appreciated. We applaud everyone who volunteers in our Town.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Why Fix It When We Can Talk About It - Some More

Five years ago, post-tropical Storm Sandy struck at high tide, driving catastrophic storm surges into coastal New Jersey and New York unlike anything seen before. Thirty-four New Jersey residents lost their lives. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed, causing over $62 billion in damage. Five years later some areas have recovered. Some have not.

But we don’t live on the coastal area and yet are equally impacted by storms. Newly re-appointed Town Councilman Sheehan discussed Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene and its impact to Greenburgh specifically and the region in general as a 500-year storm. Sadly, his account was skewed for those residents and businesses that have suffered with just about every storm. But how could this 500-year storm happen?

Some say it’s simple. Development and over-development of our suburban communities has allowed and in Mr Feiner’s case encouraged over-sized buildings on every speck of undeveloped land. Where it is apropos, such as the super Stop and Shop on Rt 119 in the Glenview section of the Town near the Marriot and Sheraton hotels, it is conversely not apropos directly across the street with Brightview Assisted Living, and their oversized behemoth sized building smack dab in the middle of residential homes. Similarly, the proposed apartment building on Dromore Road and/or the Shelborne Assisted Living facility on Underhill Avenue, the site of the former Sprainbrook Nursery. There are more examples, but we’re sure you understand the point.

Many community leaders believe super storms are the new norm, and are increasing efforts to make communities more resilient—a critical component of all recovery efforts. NOAA points to two examples:

· New Jersey’s Brigantine Island community used the recovery phase as an opportunity to elevate the road off the island, strengthen barriers along the oceanfront and bayside, and improve zoning and floodplain ordinances.

· New Jersey’s coastal management program developed a Getting to Resilience program to help communities improve hazard preparedness. As a result, many communities instituted new policies that keep people and infrastructure safer, and also resulted in cost reductions for flood insurance premiums.

This information, while germane to New Jersey and possibly other coastal areas, does little to ameliorate the issues for those Greenburgh residents as well as others who, by proximity to the two major rivers used by the entire county for drainage, are routinely ignored unless a news crew is broadcasting from a flood victims home. And, if you read the various governmental agencies websites, specifically about flooding, they mention risk and vulnerability assessments, public outreach and engagement, planning integration, disaster preparedness and recovery and even hazard mitigation implementation. All of these are things a taxpayer can do after they are flooded and the literal and figurative damage has been done. Yet, the one real solution is missing.

The Bronx River and the Saw Mill River are the two rivers that every community within their confines drain into. As more and more development is squeezed onto any undeveloped property, their storm drainage is guided to one of those rivers – maybe not directly, but ultimately. Hence, with more impervious space unable to now absorb previous rain waters, the runoff is pointed to these two rivers. Ultimately, the lower lying regions that never used to flood before are now inundated by water. Many of those same residents have been flooded so many times that they are forced to sell their homes at a fraction of their original worth. So what’s the solution?

Most flood victims know that FEMA is a pathetic and bloated bureaucracy that is incapable of helping those already affected by flooding. Having lived through numerous hurricanes, we’ve watched FEMA shrug their federal shoulders and walk away from helping those in need. As a response, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer sponsored and had passed legislation to increase FEMA flood insurance premiums to those in newly districted flood zones. So basically, the people needing help the most get walloped again after not being helped the first time.

The elections are over. The Democrats claim they came out and voted against President Trump. The Republicans are utilizing the same excuse while ignoring the country’s mandate for change by electing President Trump. Sadly, this is the state of politics in our state, county and municipalities. All of the newly elected candidates that won promised to “fight for you” or offered “a new direction.” Really? Not one of them, whether it’s County Executive-elect George Latimer or any County legislator that has one of the two rivers in their district will do anything about flooding because those constituents are too few and far between to be needed for their election/re-election.

The solution? First, a buy-in from every community. They need to participate in cleaning out the river in their community on a regular basis. Second, both rivers need to be dredged and their width and depth increased. Hopefully, the environmentalists will have more compassion for the taxpaying residents than the ducks and other limited wildlife in the rivers’ immediate path. Third, the storm water infrastructure must be upgraded and more importantly, maintained. Fourth, any new, expanded or additional construction must incorporate significant drainage solutions from that location that will not add significantly to the rise of either river during a storm that cannot be controlled. Fifth, variances, a key tool used by Mr Feiner, his Board and others, cannot be allowed for the benefit of developers. Finally, the storm water path to the rivers and the rivers themselves must be allowed to flow unimpeded. This will reduce flooding, damage, accidents and more. It’s time for some new leadership to step up and not bail on the river corridors. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Celebrating Our Veterans

Veterans Day is celebrated every year on 11th November to give honor our military veterans, who have served and are serving in the US Armed Forces. It is also known as Armistice Day. Veterans Day 2017 to be celebrated on Saturday 11th November 2017.

Friday, November 10, 2017

When Will Your Property Tax Rebate Check Arrive?

ALBANY – This year’s property tax- rebate checks will start hitting mailboxes in New York in mid-November, state officials said.

The latest round of checks will be for a portion of homeowners’ school taxes and average about $179 per household. The tax department said it will take several months for all 2 million checks to be issued, so the distribution will run into early 2018.

“The property-tax-relief credit directly reduces your property tax burden if you are a qualifying homeowner,” the state Department of Taxation and Finance said on its website.

The checks supplant “property-tax freeze” checks that had gone out the past three years for the annual increase in school and municipal taxes.

What will you get?
The program —called the property tax- relief credit — applies to homeowners with an adjusted gross household income of $275,000 or less. Also, the local school district had to stay under the state’s property-tax cap.

Last year, the four-year, $1.3 billion program started with a flat amount: $185 for upstate residents and $130 downstate. This year it provides larger checks to homeowners with lower incomes.
Now it’s a rebate based on a percentage of what you get back each year through STAR, the $3 billion state program that provides a savings on school taxes.

For those making under $75,000, the rebate will be equal to 28 percent of the STAR savings.
If you get $1,000 a year off your school taxes through STAR, you would get a check for $280.
The percentage drops for higher incomes: Between $75,000 and $150,000, the check is for 20.5 percent of the STAR break; and 5.5 percent for between $200,000 and $275,000.
In the last two years of the program, the checks will get larger: In 2019, it will get as high as 85 percent back for those earning less than $75,000.

Senior citizens receive Enhanced STAR, and they will also get a check: for 12 percent of the STAR rebate, growing to 34 percent in 2019.

What about STAR checks?
The tax-relief checks come after the tax department last year starting mailing out 195,000 STAR rebates to new homeowners, which went out as checks for the first time last year.

Those who bought their homes after August 2015 get a STAR check for the savings on their school taxes, rather than seeing the savings upfront in their tax bills.

STAR is available on homeowners’ primary residences for those with incomes of $500,000 or less.
The program struggled last year, but improved this year as the tax department better adjusted to it.
“Those property owners who have registered should have received a check or a letter from us at this point,” said tax department spokesman James Gazzale. “If they have not and if they believe they are eligible, they can contact us.”

People should have received their check in time to pay their school taxes, which for most of the state is Sept. 30. Last year, checks went out late, leaving people struggling to pay their full tax bill.
But tax assessors said the state didn’t have the same problems this year.

The tax department “should be commended for making this a priority and fixing what was a broke system they were forced to put into place in such a short time frame last year,” said Jay Franklin, the tax assessor in Tompkins County, who was critical of the situation last year.

What do I have to do?
The tax department will automatically mail the property-tax-relief-credit checks to you.
But be patient, the process will take a few months, and the state hasn’t said when each area of New York will get them first.

For more information, visit relief.htm.

If you’re a new homeowner, you should have applied and received a check for your STAR rebate. That’s if you’re income eligible and if your school taxes were already due.

To register or for more information, /default.htm.

This year it provides larger checks to homeowners with lower incomes. In the last two years of the program, the checks will get larger: In 2019, it will get as high as 85 percent back for those earning less than $75,000.