Thursday, October 25, 2007


When the 2008 proposed budget is released on Tuesday there will be a tax hike. The Town Board will have some options: Cut services to reduce the tax hike or maintain services. They have another option: increase the costs of government by adding more programs/initiatives to the budget.
On Wednesday the Greenburgh Town Board (over my objections) voted to approve a $405,000 comprehensive plan study. I tried to make a point: the decision whether the study takes place in 2008 should be deferred until the 2008 budget process is completed (by law a budget must be approved by December 20th). The issue is simple: PRIORITIES. What are our priorities in 2008? A comprehensive plan? Police, sanitation, leaf collection, recreation? What do we have funds for in 2008? What can't we afford to pay for?
By locking the town into a contract days before the 2008 budget process begins - the Board reduced our options. $200,000 of the comprehensive plan was funded in 2007 but never spent. If the money is not spent in 2007 the funds could be used to reduce the size of any tax hike or the dollars could be used to enhance services.
I also objected to the fact that the Board approved the $405,000 study without first reviewing the contract with the consultant. I was first shown the contract with the consultant ON THURSDAY, after the vote took place. How can the Board approve a contract before reading it? Before I sign any document I will review the terms and conditions of the contract to make sure that your interests are being protected.
Another concern: there is an election for town offices in less than 2 weeks. This years elections are contested. I feel that those who are elected in November should be making the decision re: terms, costs, benchmarks, hiring re: comprehensive plan. No harm to have had a short delay - until after the new Board is elected. Another reason to have delayed the vote...
I believe that $405,000 is alot of money to pay for a study.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor


dnd said...

The decision could have waited a few more days, but there's no use whining about it after the fact. The comprehensive plan is long overdue anyway, so just factor it into your budget calculations and move forward.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. Francis told the Council of Civic Associations that the tax increase will be double digit. A big tax hike will be bigger if this study is incorporated in the budget.

Anonymous said...

Won't Bernstein's lawsuits ease the tax burden on uninc residents?

Anonymous said...

Sheehan and the Civic Associations still have the upper hand in the running of Greenburgh town government.
Make sure you vote come November 6th we have got to stop this BS between Sheehan and the civic assoc.
A new Feiner slate will take care of this because they cannot be bought.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it funny Sheehan said that Feiner was using scare tactics when it came to the tax hike and as 9:00 said in his comment Sheehan told the civic assoc. that the tax hike will be double digets.
Sheehan says one thing in front of the television camera but yet with his cohorts he states the truth.
Now we can see how he tries to belittle Feiner in any way that he can.
Sheehan we're looking at 2 more years of your lying but maybe you could make a supreme sacrifice and resign.

Anonymous said...

You're right Paul 405 thousand dollars is a lot to pay for a study.
We all know how Sheehan works,by putting his civic assoc.friends in the audience to give their points of view.
I have yet to see either Bernstein or McNally say anything against anything or any statement made by Herr Sheehan.
Too bad that these plants are in the audience meeting after meeting to go against what the Supervisor says or wants to do.
Do they think that all of this is not noticed by the attendees and the television audiences.
This is why this election is SO important.
We have to get back our town government.
We have had 2 years of torture watching this board together with the two civic leaders from Edgemont take the lead in our decision making.
We do need a change ,enough is enough.
Vote the entire Feiner slate for a good change and a true Democratic government..

Anonymous said...

After what Bernestien and McNally did with the Dromore Rd incident,I think the lawsuit will be swept under the rug.
After all they both always fought for open space not thinking about the residents of Greenburgh,so now the unincorporated area has to swallow deep and bear the fact that their wanting of more greenery cost taxpayers more money.

Anonymous said...

I cannot see why Taxter Ridge cannot be sold to a developer to bring in some revenue.
This was a bad purchase for Greenburgh just to keep on friendly terms with Irvington.
Our taxes cannot keep going up, we have to stop all of the so called studies like this one for all that money.
It seems that Sheehan's studies always cost more than anticipated.
could there be a kick back????????

Anonymous said...

To 11:03AM - Can't we sell the 20 million dollar new library "to a developer to bring in some new revenue" and pay back the multi-million dollar bond.

Anonymous said...

Sell the library WHY NOT

get real said...

sell it to who? lets get real. no one uses libraries much anymore.

Anonymous said...

Can Sheehan be impeached?

Anonymous said...

This Bd doesn't give a damn about our town. They just want to give it to Feiner. Shame on you Francis.

Anonymous said...

The library would make a good assisted living complex.How about it.
It will also bring in some good revenue.

Anonymous said...

but feiner had no problem giving $650,000 a year to valhalla - all of a sudden $405,000 is alot of $

Sheehan too his credit tried to stop feiner's illegal giveaway.

Anonymous said...

the $405,000 study is stupid government. What was the rush? Sheehan just doesn't get it.

hal samis said...

I would like someone to explain to me and readers why it is necessary to go forward (start) with the comprehensive plan now.

Even if it was partially funded in 2007.

Even if the taxpayers won't have to pay for the balance of the work until 2009.

Even if a lot of volunteers spent a lot of their time on it. It should be noted that these volunteers were the ones in favor of having this comprehensive plan.

Even if it can be placed in the capital budget, $405,000 = $405,000 wherever it enters the bookkeeping, it has to paid.

Things change.
One thing is that it it likely that there will be a reconfigured Town Board come 2008.
It is is also likely that this new Town Board will not be so congenial to taking on this expense.
So what.

If there is a new Town Board it is because the public wanted things to change. Is the existing Town Council rushing this expense through just for spite?

I also want to point out that calling something a "comprehensive plan" makes it sound like something important but the name and the reality are often at odds.
Furthermore much of what makes up a comprehensive plan already exists in the Town's deparments and in the files of the County and the State. Hiring a firm to outsource running a copier is a very expensive proposition.

I really, really want to know reasons why there is a current, PRESSING need for spending the big bucks on a comprehensive plan, reasons relating to what a comprehensive plan will bring to the Town, not the political polemics above.

One idea put out to circulate is that somehow a comprehensive plan will stop the erosion in rateables -- as though lack of having one is the cause. Raising assessments will raise rateables. Who's for that? So, please explain to me how having a comprehensive plan will stop the erosion and raise rateables -- be forewarned: that if anyone's going to say...I'm going to come back and remind you about privately owned property vs. town owned property.

And explain how the comprehensive plan is going to anticipate the real effects of Ridge Hill, the Tappan Zee crossing, what White Plains decides to do in the future, precict the outcome of various and forthcoming court cases (provide or compensate for their results) and then tell me the delivery date of the comprehensive plan, the acceptance of it by the Town Board and when any needed Town Laws will be passed to implement the Plan's recommendations.

And while you're at it, what public funding will be needed to reap the benefits?

i.e. I'm betting that a truly comprehensive, comprehensive plan will recommend that some streets in town should have sidewalks. Wow! How much would that conclusion have cost?

Just because the Town Council promoted this during the throes of a 2007 palace overthrow and a hard fought pre-primary campaign concurrent with the ethics law debacle, it doesn't mean that this was something that the Public at large was focused on. Then too, most of these committee meetings were scheduled for the benefit of the committee members, not the working public.

Personally, I think the idea stinks. I think it smacks of politics; I think it smacks of spending $400,000+ for one single purpose: to create the paper supporting the need to remove residential development from what is currently allowed on Central Avenue in Edgemont; that a deal has been struck to spend this money to achieve this result and that the bill for helping Edgemont achieve this is being spread among the other areas of Town which will receive no benefit for their tax dollar support.

I would like to see this whole monument to Sheehan/McNally/McLaughlin tabled and brought back to life next year when this year's competing emotional issues of 2007 have faded away and left the center stage for good.
I would like to say that next year the jig's up but I'm not sure of the above trios musical preferences.

But again don't focus on the diversion of the history and work that went into arriving at the $400,000 payoff, there is no reason why the houses of the three little pigs can't be put back together again -- because no one used bricks the first time.

And as a technical question, if the RFP defined the job specs, how can you award a contract to the firm that reduced their price but, in doing so, left some of the original work out of their lowered price? Did the other firm have a chance to match the "winning" bid by also leaving out some of the work?

dnd said...

Simply put, comprehensive plans are how organizations are properly run. Set objectives and action plans, and follow through. Greenburgh, especially, needs less seat-of-the-pants management and more long-term vision.

I agree that there are plenty of experienced volunteers available, but the development of a comprehensive plan still has to be managed by an objective professional. ($405,000 is a bit hefty, though.)

Anonymous said...

Paul do not go further with the comprehensive plan. In doing so you will have made the civic leaders of Edgemont win big time.
Can you tell me where the is more land to be developed other than Edgemont.
This is what Sheehan and Bernstein are shooting for ,to make changes in their favor not thinking about the rest of the residents in town.
Put the plan on hold,do not sign any contracts.
Let's wait till next year if we have to pay out more money for this plan.

Anonymous said...

This plan is for the benefit of Sheehan and company .Do not go through with this plan.
The way the volunteers [all Sheehan's cronies]worked for this plan if needed more volunteers will work on the next plan.
There is no rush to put out all this money for something that we do not need.

hal samis said...

Dear Data with side order of Drama,

"Comprehensive Plans are how organizations are run".

Too simply put.

Most "organizations" are unilaterial in operation and objectives.

Town government does not make decisions based solely upon its own judgement or even the judgement of outside consultants. Those running the Town still have to deal with the interests of those most affected by development proposals before the Town. Thus the recommendations of a Comprehensive Plan exist in a perfect vacuum and do not address the political realities which bring pressure to bear.

The Town of Greenburgh is not like a private or public company. Greenburgh's Board of Directors does not run a monolith with the objective, say, to increase profits and thus all divisions are directed to pursue all opportunities leading to this goal. On the contrary, Town government is charged with a responsibility more to protect its stockholders, the individual residents. Since the interests of all its stockholders are not the same, a Master Plan or Comprehensive Plan cannot be all things to all people (east side, west side, all around the town, incorporated and unincorporated) which is why your premise is invalid.

Consider if you will, if you must read into this but it was the first example that came to mind.
What if the Comprehensive Plan recommeded that the best use for property along Central Avenue in Edgemont should be solely residential development. The Plan could say this after determining that there is a already too much retail and office development and that the nearby Ridge Hill project will absorb all future needs for the forseeable future (until the next Plan). The land is too valuable to become open space and thus residential development becomes the by default highest use.

Now, how do you suppose Edgemont leaders would react if that were the conclusion? I'm betting that the Town would hear quickly enough that the conclusions of the Plan were flawed, required more study and that a moratorium is needed while the experts redo their studies.

No plan, even one costing $405,000 and taking years to develop, can truly be called Comprehensive. By the time, it is completed, the earliest segments are already showing their half-life. If people are truly concerned about an "incident" at Indian Point, such an event would render the Comoprehensive Plan useless. If the Tappan Zee crossing were relocated, the Plan would be useless. If the Saw Mill River Parkway and the Sprain became linked one direction only roads, the Plan would be useless. There are so many events and unforseen possibilities that exist, that the Town would still be in a reactive role rather than what the Plan's advocates would like to think can be pro-active stances.

I offer up a very real and actual circumstance as an example.
Knollwood Road (a concern of the Broadview Civic Association) will in the next five years be witness to the opening of the expanded Greenburgh Public Library, the Greenburgh Health Center, the new townhouse development, the disposition of the Fortress Bible Church property, the development on the golf driving range, (one day after a new use for the Frank's nursery site) and the completion of the now BMW-owned former County Limousine building. In addition, the State plans changes to the Tarrytown Road underpass and an open questions remains as to the future use of the Westhab property adjacent to the Library. What will the Comprehensive Plan determine about this area in the coming years? What if they said that the Greenburgh Health Center should go elsewhere as a result of the conflux of all the other proposed uses?

Those people advocating a so-called Comprehensive Plan are taking advantage of the unfortunate but presumptuous name. No Plan is comprehensive in reality. And, if you will grant even a small portion of what I am pitching, then it follows that the immediate, economic harm of higher taxes facing taxpayers in 2008, dictates that now is not the time to allocate to low priority items and that the $200,000 already allocated can find a better home
for the bitter pill that is the Budget.

It is a shame that the Town Council responds to a small, vocal public and not to the larger group known as all Greenburgh taxpayers.
Even the recent Primary results could not drive that inbalance home to roost.

Anonymous said...

I do hope that all the dept. heads are willing to put their heads together to come up with a good plan.
Wait for next year that the moles that Sheehan has taken under his wing could retire or change their ways in thinking what is good for all the residents of the town.
Paul do not sign any contracts until your new board members take office.

Anonymous said...

Hey Paul - if you think $405,000 is a lot to pay for a study, can you tell me how much a gallon of milk costs at Stew Leonard's?
Get real, even the Hartsdale Public Parking District no longer charges only a quarter to park for an hour.

Anonymous said...

The milk money and the parking quarter is coming from your pocket,but the $405g is coming from all the tax payers.
We do not need this study right now.

Anonymous said...

All scholls should be investigated as to why taxes are high.
Looking at a breakdown 69% tax goes to schools.
At this time the schools should be checked for waste.
The people in Greenburgh are being taxed right out of their homes.
The town has nothing to say about the school tax but someone should intervene to see what is happening
with our money.
How many teachers have their children attend the school without living in the districts?
Our teachers are the highest paid why?
Many teachers want to teach in Edgemont schools system because of the money paid to them.
Why WWWHy must we pay all this school taxes .
Many residents do not have children attending these schools and still they are burdened with the tax.
Fair or unfair.
Can anything be done to help the situation.