Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Reassessment: Open and Transparent – Not in Greenburgh

The Town’s revaluation project, provided by Tyler Technologies, has resulted in many upset residents. Broken into the rule of “thirds”, one group that is extremely upset is the one third who will see their taxes increase! The most vociferous has been from the Edgemont area of the Town. Championed by Bob Bernstein, who challenged Mr Feiner for the Town Supervisor’s position, he has stated that the revaluations performed by Tyler appear to be extremely lopsided. He and others have asked the Town to provide the criteria by which Tyler was doing the revaluations. The Town has not provided the information.

The other two-thirds of the Town’s residents will see their taxes either remain the same or be lowered. Those people have, for the most part, remained quiet. Although not fun by any means, they’re probably breathing a sigh of relief and thankful to keep Mr Feiner’s hands out of their pockets and off their wallets! The bigger question is what could have been done to avoid this, and in fact, could it have been avoided at all? Based in Texas, Tyler Technologies has completed the contracted assessment of the Town. Or, have they? Many people we speak with claim they never saw a Tyler representative during the reassessment period and received a mailing from them that their revaluation was completed nevertheless!

It has been said there are approximately 6,000 property owners (24% of residents), the unfortunate one-third, who will see an increase in their property taxes. Mr Bernstein uses his home as just one example of the wide fluctuations to six or so other very similar homes on his street, built by the same builder with the same amount of property. He’s found wildly different evaluations of these parcels. In the Tarrytown area, on the other side of Town, we were told by several homeowners that their property taxes will be going up about 28%! While not directly stumping for Tarrytown, this is the struggle many are crying “foul” over. It appears that they were paying undervalued amounts of taxes while the other two-thirds of the Town were over-paying their taxes. The reassessment is designed to remedy that.

Never one to address any problem straight on with honesty, reason, due diligence, and following the processes in place, Mr Feiner and his Board have sought feverishly for a scapegoat. Tyler might just be that scapegoat. However, he hired Tyler. Now he’s blaming them for not being available to deal with residents’ complaints. He chose an unproven management company for WestHelp, who wound up going belly-up, still losing money for the Town due to that debacle. Come to think of it, he also chose GameOn 365 for a commercial development in a residential neighborhood. It was he who also chose to discriminate against, destroy evidence, lie under oath and committing perjury in the Fortress Bible Church law suit. After being handed a Massage Parlor bill written, ironically, by Mr Bernstein – at no charge – that the Town could simply enact, Town Attorney Tim Lewis stopped it. He watered it down and changed it from what was offered, and Mr Feiner unnecessarily dragged out the process for way too long. Bad decisions seem to be a hallmark of this administration!

Seemingly, the Town appeared to be getting closer to a more equitable level of taxation once the revaluation stopped getting talked about and was actually slated to begin. Then, in characteristically and non-transparent fashion, bordering on what might be considered a “video slight-of-hand” from out of left field, Mr Feiner and his Town Board voted during a work session to not enact the Homestead Tax option, a financial benefit for Mr Feiner! In fact, if you weren't paying close attention, you might have easily missed it completely. Mr Feiner has stated that he and his Board, “...all believe that reassessment is necessary for the long term health of the Town.” However, if they were genuinely looking for tax equity, they would have put the Homestead Tax option on the Town’s regular agenda and let the people speak about it. But no, this is Greenburgh where we only talk about open and transparent government before slamming the door to go into a private, executive session.

Instead of being open and transparent, Mr Feiner and his Board are now trying to enact a graduated, five-year implementation plan so that the increases to the approximately 6,000 homeowners is spread out over 5-years, easing them “up to speed”. How are they going to pull this one off? By utilizing a section of the New York State Real Property Tax Law that’s called a Transition Assessment. In order for this to be undertaken, the Town must adopt it within thirty days of filing the tentative assessment roll in May. ABG believes this will happen today at their work session this morning at 9:30. It would then take effect on June 1. The flip side of this plan is that those getting a reduction would also get their reduction phased in over five years. Effectually, Mr Feiner wants the less affluent, lower-taxed people to continue to pay more in taxes than they should, carrying those who got socked with an increase. Equitable tax structure indeed!

Regardless of where you stand on this issue, and what is happening with your taxes, Town Tax Assessor Edye McCarthy claims a five-year phase-in transition will not happen. How does she know and what isn’t she sharing with us? The bigger issues at play are many. First, Tyler dropped the ball and did not visit every home in the Town, cheating on what they were hired to do. The Town allowed that to happen which has easily skewed the results and rests squarely on Mr Feiner and his Boards shoulders. This is costing our residents a lot of money. Second, the criteria for revaluation was never disclosed and still remains a secret to only Tyler and the Town. Third, most people are unaware that Mr Feiner with his Board is now seeking to change the revaluation results in hopes of not upsetting their political (read: re-election) apple cart. It is often said that revaluation is political suicide. Maybe so. Finally, the five-year transition plan has apparently never been used and this would be the first time in NY State history. Actually, Mr Feiner is bragging about this. What he fails to mention is that while the Town Board “... all believe the reassessment is necessary for the long term health of the Town.” They would be setting the revaluation effort back by five years if they do this!

We are sympathetic with those 6,000 residents who are going to pay more than a small increase. Separately, those who have voted for Mr Feiner and his Board election after election have endorsed his 24 years of not doing any revaluations and indirectly helped create this situation. Yet, their bad decisions should not cost them exorbitant amounts of money with increased taxes. Too many factors indicate another scheme by Mr Feiner that was not well thought out, planned well or executed properly. Perhaps a one-year delay may be prudent. Tyler can actually do reassessments of homes they originally missed, give every one time to challenge the assessment if they are believed to be incorrect, and finally, have the Town put all of the options “on the table” and perhaps offer a referendum on how to proceed. Maybe next time Mr Feiner and his Board will listen to those of us who attend meetings, email him and try to discuss issues with him. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Town Posts Property Reassessment Q&A Video

The Greenburgh Tax Assessor, Edye McCarthy has prepared a short video providing answers to questions about the reassessment process. You may find some of your questions answered in this video. The information and suggestions may give you a better understanding of what you need to do if you want to successfully challenge Tyler's initial valuation. Tyler is the company the Town hired to do the revaluation/reassessment. 

You must call Tyler Technology at 1 800 273-8605 no later than April 8th to get an appointment through the first week in May.

After that meeting, If you still disagree with your new assessment value, you will then have an opportunity to file a formal grievance with the Board of Assessment Review from June 1 - June 21.
Copy and paste the link below into your URL browser field:

Saturday, March 19, 2016

9A Crash with Multiple Injuries

At approximately 12:30 PM this afternoon, a small red car was speeding northbound on 9A, according to witnesses we interviewed at the scene. That speeding small red car made a bad maneuver as the red light on 9A changed from red to green. Because the driver of the red car was speeding, he pushed the dark blue car, shown in this photo, into the ConEd truck. The ConEd truck had three passengers sitting on the front bench seat. The ConEd truck had just started to move with the green light and was going no more than ten miles per hour when the blue car struck them.

Once the red car hit the dark blue car, the dark blue car slammed into the front of the ConEd truck. Two people from the red car, one from the green and one passenger from the Con Ed truck were taken to Westchester County Medical Center. Three ambulances assisted from Hawthorne Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Valhalla Volunteer Ambulance Corps and the all-volunteer Elmsford Fire Department. None of the injuries were reported to be life threatening.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Resident Challenging Town Intentionally Ignored

We've reported about the flawed deal Mr Feiner and his Town Board have struck with Sustainable Westchester, a paper company created by a host of lawyers. Roughly half of their board of directors is comprised of Village and Town leaders. Conflict of interest? Probably. Will anything come of all of this? It remains to be seen. But obviously Mr Feiner's example of open government and transparency are not true. One resident, in the Town, Ken Stahn, President of the Sprain Road Civic Association, has mounted a one man crusade for the truth from Town Hall after doing research about Sustainable Westchester.

Another issue is the lack of a cohesive plan with details and too many unanswered issues. Mr Stahn addresses a few of them in his letter below. Right from the beginning, Mr Feiner sent out numerous emails stating residents (and businesses) could save from $400 to $600 a year. Yet, the limited information that has been provided is not "sustainable" based on Mr Stahn's research. In fact we believe individuals may not save enough for a cup of java at Starbucks. A major contention is that Mr Feiner and his Board passed a resolution forcing ConEd to release their list of their customer's billing information, your information, to give Sustainable Westchester the number of participants they require to proceed. The right way to do this would have been to have residents and businesses opt-IN instead of having to opt-OUT of this scheme. ABG believes Mr Feiner, and possibly others on the Board, will receive a Board of Director position with the organization in short time.

Below is an email communication from Mr Stahn that have remained unanswered.

From: KGStahn@aol.com
To: pfeiner@greenburghny.com, fsheehan@greenburgh.com
CC: gtroyano@lohud.com, tbauer@lohud.com, tbauer@tbauer.com, eganga@lohud.com, skcolucci@news12.com, ssamin@dailyvoice.com, lleavitt@scarsdalenews.com, tlamorte@rivertownsenterprise.net
Sent: 3/16/2016 7:45:54 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: Open and Transparent Gov't not alive Sustainable Westchster and Ardsley Chase

I have been waiting for a response from you or Francis regarding answers to questions I sent you and Francis about the MOU that the Town has entered into with Sustainable.  After reviewing the video of the March 9th 2016 Town Board Meeting the game has changed.

What Mike Gordon suggested to us at least 10 public and work sessions with the Board was not what I heard at the March 9th meeting and you have refused to discuss it with me. He said a 2 year fixed rate of maybe 32 months, but we were told a variable rate for 3 years and now he is adding Green Energy at a possible higher price!

Fact:  The PSC has just released a statement that if a consumer goes with an ESCO on a fixed rate or that has more than 30% of renewal energy they will not be entitled to a refund should the Con-Ed regular pricing be less that what the ESCO is supplying.  

Sustainable has contracted with Con-Ed Solutions at a rate that follows:

7.381 cents for what we get now called Brown Energy (oil/coal/gas)
7.681 cents for Green/Renewable Energy
They have not added the tax to that supply charge.

My most current Con-Ed bill.

6.729 cents for what is called Brown energy
7.200 cents is what I paid with taxes added.

All these prices are per kilowatt hour.

Why was gas dropped from the process? We were told it would be included.

Please check your own Con-Ed bills and do the math. We have not even started and we will be paying more than we are currently being charged. How is that saving money?

Is that why you have refused to respond to my 2 phone messages to your office and 2 to your personal cell and one tweet?  Is that being open and transparent?

As for Ardsley Chase back in October of 2014, I met with Rich Fon and did a walk around with him.  Your number 2 person at the DPW.  We identified 10 issues.  Since then only 2 have been addressed and now several more have risen.  For the past 5 months your staff has given me the run around to 5 different departments with no resolutions and in many cases no response after my initial discussion with the person.  All fingers have pointed to Garrett Dequesne and for the past 30 days no response from him and since March 3rd since you said you would get him to contact me as of this e-mail no contact.

Again, no open and transparent government.

But you do have time to champion Mail issues and the Ardsley Dobbs Ferry Bridge issues, why so you can get positive press time as an activist. 

You’re on the wrong end of the Energy issue so you run and hide. Why not get press time and tell people they might want to check out this new energy deal and maybe opt-out because we acted too fast.

I would like to see the written plan the Town has for the three detention/retention ponds at the Ardsley Chase Development to control the mosquitoes to help ensure no West Nile or Zika viruses.  Including Ardsley Middle School, there are, on most days, about 850 people within .5 miles of those ponds. A concern for us that live near but apparently you do not share the same concerns.

Respectfully submitted.
Kenneth G. Stahn
644 Ardsley Road
Scarsdale, New York 10583
e-mail kgstahn@aol.com

The public was sold a bill of goods by Sustainable Westchester and Mr Feiner that is simply not true! The cost savings touted are not going to be anywhere near as large as they promised. The new suprise inclusion of utilizing renewable energy sources promises higher costs and less savings for residents. Opting OUT of this program may be the only way to stop the lies and manipulations of the political system. It must end. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Tragedy On The Hudson

At approximately 5AM, one worker was killed and two crew members went missing when a tugboat transporting a crane on a barge from the Albany area to Jersey City, New Jersey, collided with a barge in the construction space of the new Tappan Zee Bridge. The two workers are still missing and presumed dead. The one victim was currently removed from the water was identified as Paul Amon, 63, of Bayville, New Jersey.

The NY State Police put divers in the water to search for the two other victims. The County Police, who keep a boat on the Hudson in the area, assisted with the search. At one point the Governor toured the area. In fact, several politicians could be seen in the area campaigning among the first responders. Sadly, they were not kept out of the scene. We refuse to name them because it was the wrong time and place for campaigning.

The tugboat sank into the depths of the Hudson River after the collision. People on scene said the tugboat pilot had been heard on the radio saying, “Steer left, steer left.” Apparently, he could see there was some kind of obstruction he could see and was trying to avoid it. This, of course, is assuming those accounts are correct. The County’s all-volunteer Hazardous Materials Response Team responded to provide decontamination of the divers when they returned to the Tarrytown shore. The all-volunteer Tarrytown Fire Department was an integral part of this operation overall.

Our hearts and prayers go out to those affected by this horrific event.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Passing of Former Chief Dennis Bolger

Dennis Andrew Bolger, Age 82, of Elmsford, NY, passed away on February 28, 2016. Born in the Tottenville Section of Staten Island, NY., to the late Edward and Rose (nee Golomb) Bolger. Mr. Bolger graduated from St. Peter's Boys High School. He was an Installer for New Telephone and then AT&T. Dennis was a Life Member of Live Oak Engine Company # 1, Former Chief of Elmsford Fire Department, Alarm Superintendent Village of Elmsford for over 50 years, Member of the American Legion Post 104 and the Korean War Veterans of Florida. He was a Korean War Veteran and retired Reservist at Steward Air National Guard Base (105th Airlift Wing) Retired with the Rank of Master Sergeant and he was a parishioner of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Elmsford, NY. Dennis is survived by One Daughter Maryanne Romero, Three Sons William, James and Kenneth Bolger, Twelve Grandchildren, Two Great Grandchildren, a Brother Thomas Bolger, and his longtime Companion Beatrice Bouchard and family. Reposing Friday 4 PM Thru 8 PM at Hawthorne Funeral Home, Hawthorne, NY. Funeral Mass10 AM Saturday Sacred Heart Church, Hartsdale, NY. Interment Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, New Rochelle, NY. In lieu of flowers donations to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School, for Student Scholarship in Memory of Dennis A. Bolger, Attn: Sr. Stephen, 59 E Main St, Elmsford, NY 10523 or The Firemen's Home, 125 Harry Howard Ave, Hudson, NY 12534 

Service information below:
Friday March 4, 2016 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Hawthorne Funeral Home
21 West Stevens Avenue
Hawthorne, N.Y. 10532

Funeral Mass:
Saturday March 5, 2016 10:00 AM
Sacred Heart Church
Central Avenue
Hartsdale, N.Y. 

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery
New Rochelle, N.Y.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Safety Warning: Be Aware of Con Edison Imposter

Utility Warns Customers to Check for Identification 

NEW YORK - Con Edison is warning customers to beware of imposters claiming to be from the company and seeking to enter a home or business. 

Con Edison employees carry identification cards with their photo, name and the company’s name and logo. If you see identification and still have doubts about the person’s legitimacy, call 1-800-75CONED (1-800-752-6633) before letting the person in your home or business.

Anyone who suspects a person is falsely claiming to be a Con Edison employee should call their local police department.

Sports Authority Files For Bankruptcy

ABG received a press release this morning from Sports Authority Chief Executive Officer Michael Foss. The press release briefly detailed the bankruptcy plans that Sports Authority will be utilizing during the near future. Below is an excerpt from that press release. There was no specific mentioning of the fate of the Sports Authority store located in Elmsford on Rt 119. The closest sporting goods store in the area would then be Modell's Sporting Goods, also on Rt 119 in the Crossroads Shopping Center in the Fairview section of Greenburgh.


During the past several months, we have been working very hard to adapt our business to better meet the needs of our customers. We are committed to evolving as a company so we are ableto continue to offer the best brands at great values - both in our stores and on our website, SportsAuthority.com.

With these goals in mind, we have decided to utilize the Chapter 11 process to implement a financial and operational restructuring that we believe is necessary to help us become an even better place for our customers to shop for sporting goods.

Due to the changing retail environment, we have a long-term plan to streamline and strengthen our business so we can continue to make necessary investments in our operations, including upgrading our in store experience and enhancing our website. As part of that plan, we have identified approximately 140 stores that we intend to close or sell in the coming months. This was a tough decision to make, but we believe it was a necessary step in our plan to make Sports Authority an even better partner for our customers. The store closings will occur over the next three months.