Thursday, November 29, 2007

MANAGEMENT BUDGET REVIEW COMMITTEE

We have received a shock this year with the 2008 budget. It is also a wake-up call. We all, myself, the Town Council, and members of the staff and also the public, had become a bit spoiled, and now we learned that revenues and ratables are falling while expenses keep going up at a faster rate than we realized. It will require tight controls in all areas of the town government. It will also require a fresh look at our operations to see how we can be more efficient and to see what fundamental changes can be made to improve the town’s financial position now and in the future.

As soon as the new Town Board takes office next month, I will ask the Board to create a management committee to review all aspects of our operations. That committee wil be totally non-political. We have in town many executives and company managers and I hope that we will enlist them on this committee. I would expect this committee to do an up and down examination of each department to review systems, work practices, personnel, benefit programs, and the like. We need to know what various programs cost and whether they should be eliminated or scaled back. It will help all of us -- your government and also the public -- to be much smarter about what we do and how we do it. I would expect this committee to report back to the Town Board before the next budget season so that the Town Board has the time to study the recommendations and implement them, if appropriate.

I know that there will be some upset among our staff. However, as I said we have received a wake-up call, and we need to respond. If we do not, the large tax hike next year will be a preview of coming attractions, and we cannot allow that. Taxes can be controlled in several ways, but the principal one is to reduce spending by modernizing our operations and making them more efficient and realistic. If we do not act immediately the town will suffer greatly. This is a major step to prevent this from happening.

Interested in joining the committee? E mail me your bio at pfeiner@greenburghny.com

51 comments:

stop the frills said...

defund desanti plaza and the art curator position in town hall now!

Anonymous said...

Oh boy!
You could have told them at the holiday party or on Christmas Eve. It would have been just as dramatic.

Happy Holidaze!

rip van feiner said...

feiner has been busy these past years churning out press releases saluting himself instead of governing. the westchester county association has issued report after report of the municipal waste so prevalent in westchester government. the tipping point on property taxes has been reached.
readers are encourage to go to their website and read their white paper on property taxes.

feiner appears to be waking from his slumber but after 16 years of tax (or borrow) and spend policies, he may be too late to steer the ship clear of the iceberg.

one of the biggest mistakes of the feiner era is the acqusition of 100s of acres of parkland without any exit strategy. in a marriage, if after a few years you realize you made a mistake, you get divorced. not so in greenburgh - the town either alone or separately bought parkland that it cannot divorce without the equivalent of a blessing from the popes in albany, a nearly impossible task.

now everyone knows taxter ridge was a huge mistake. but we are saddled with it because the town board couldnt resist another feel good photo op that they were saving so called open space the moonies wished to unload.

thats why gadflies like feiner, like revolutionaries make poor governers. the same is true of hacks like juettner.

Anonymous said...

It is a good idea to do a management review. The old way won't work anymore, with a Supervisor and a Board which knows next to nothing about management.

Get a professional consultant. They know how to do management and operational reviews and make tough recommendations.

A committee won't succeed. Who will these volunteers be? Representing interest groups. Each department and each union will have a person pushing for it. These volunteers won't know any more about management than the Town Board does.

Anonymous said...

Feiner's call for a "management budget review committee" is just another one of his post-eletion gimmicks designed to avoid responsibility.

Feiner knew pre-primary that there would have to be a 23% tax hike, but he kept the information to himself. The town comptroller, Jim Heslop, knew about the increase as well, and wisely quit before Feiner tried to deflect attention from himself and make Heslop the town whipping boy.

So what would a responsible and intelligent town supervisor have done?

Efforts should have been undertaken months ago to address the substantial waste and redundancy built into Greenburgh's "B" budget. You don't need a "blue ribbon panel" to identify where that waste is. That's just a political device designed to shift responsibility from Feiner, as the town's chief fiscal officer, to unsuspecting and well-meaning town volunteers whose recommendations can sit on the pile of all other town recommendations that Feiner's ignored in his 16-year tenure.

The town also don't need to hire a $5,000 lapsed CPA from the villages to find the waste either because he certainly didn't do it either.

No, what's required is to sit down with the budget, line by line, and ask the question, is this redundant? Is this necessary? Or is this political patronage?

hal samis said...

After Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, they had to move somewhere. Only now can it be revealed that they moved to Greenburgh because realtors praised the Town for its convenient location to the work centers of NYC, White Plains and the 287 corridor as well as the generally high level of services. As well the general knowledge that any and all who lived there could be granted favor from the wise five that ran the Town.

So it came to pass that Adam and Eve were fruitful and did multiply as did the other original settlers of Greenburgh and over time they came to find that whereas the then abundant open space areas became no longer as abundant and what fell to increasing areas of development producing instead wood, steel, concrete and asphalt structures which were occupied by humans in the shape of dwellers, workers, worshippers and shoppers. And the product of all this resulted in a snarl of vehicles at the Town's intersections and this become troublesome to the early settlers who yearned for the good old days and they called all of this a blight upon the land.

To cope with all of these growth pains, the wise five, who had been ordained to administer and provide, did establish a government and when this council found that that it was no longer practical to conduct their business around a campfire, they started the tedious business of growing the tree of government. However as the land became more occupied, it was assumed that the costs to nurture and insure the health of this tree would increase in a like manner which they did for a increasing number of years and all were content. However, as the branches of the tree became more broad and mature, it became necessary to engage the services of those providing tree maintenance. Those perfroming the actual work were gradually hired from the fierce local tribe called Union. And as this tribe became more entwined with the branches of the tree of government and the government with Union, a pallor fell over the land because as new limbs sprouted on the tree, it became recognized overnight that the tree was both top and lower level heavy and this untrimmed overgrowth was strangling the tree.
to be continued...

hal samis continued said...

And even while this gloom enveloped the land, the good burghers continued to ask for more and expanded services so that their homes would not be plagued by the sight of garbage on holiday periods and that their temple still under construction would enrich the hearts and minds of even those bereft of the the most basic modern communiction services.

Meanwhile, looking down from on high, even higher than the mountain of Brodsky, the Lord becoming even more frustrated by the rancor that he saw below him sent a warning to the people by causing a Spring flood to cover the land but this was misinterpreted by the people who blamed the event instead on the pronouncements of a. Gore and the concurrent failure of a. Regula to provide the necessary remediation. Still not unleashing the fullest power of his vengeance, he sent another warning in the form of s. Berger with the threat that if they did not hearken to his Word, he would contrive to install her as ruler of the land. And again the people continued in their wantoness and hysterics but being an indulgent and forgiving God, he withdrew the Berger threat. And days passed and nothing changed even as the department heads continued to seek even more dollars and Union tribesmen for their realms. And witnessing and vexed by the failure of the people to recognize his two previous warnings, the Lord tried yet again and sent his messenger, m. Kolesar to warn that a still greater disaster was impending if his employer's message was not heeded. And even this messenger was held distant by the four most foolish members of the wise five who dallied and preened until they no longer dared to prevent the messenger from speaking the Word. And even after hearing the Word, the leader of the four most foolish, Francis the Fraud, took this Word as his own on his traveling road show and did alter and misconstrue the Word and willfully convey a faulty conclusion knowing that none of the mostly bored and sleep-induced audience would check his work.

And still not heeded, the Lord decided to no longer mediate his anger and he did cause his wrath to be felt by the populace at large by commanding the wisest of the five to unleash a terrible blow upon the citizenry: a 23% tax increase which he felt would be sufficient to get the attention of even the most petty and recalcitrant idol worshipers. And even this was not sufficient to stop the three wise women of Edgemont and Elmsford for they spake: "Do not worship false gods and instead pray to the true god, Comprehensive Plan, which has all the answers and powers to cure that which disturb the townfolk.
Do not let your faith be turned away from the one true answer which can unlock all the treasures and ratables that are lacking. Go forth and make the retail component along Central Avenue multiply and that together with banishing multi-family development from the remainder of the firmament shall be the long sought holy grail."

And the people upon hearing of the rigors of the 23% expense did ply the wisest of the five with questions and cast insults upon his person and ignore all common sense as they sought to find a scapegoat for their concerns. And the wisest of the five did respond thusly: "I can cut and I can trim but I pray for some guidance from you who must bear the resulting reductions in service to guide me in my work so that I might be granted the vision and mandate to follow the wishes of the people".

And for that he was ridiculed and further insulted and accused of having known the harsh punishment even before the date of September 18. And even when it was made known to the people that this picture was not ready for prime time until September 30 the earliest, the people still could not forgive so blinded were they by their concerns over their wherewithal to remain in what was still regarded as the promised land. Because if the truth be known, most of the people could pack up their capital gains and leave the land were it not for their substantiated fears of facing a less hospitable and nurturing land elsewhere.

So as the wise five and the general citizenry wrestle with the problem and seek solace and wisdom, this blog itself bears witness to the puerile and pained replies from the anonymous portion of the public which seeks to undo the recent election response and superimpose their intemporate world view with the hope of further disturbing already muddled waters. Either we can see what a
new Committee reports or we can wait four years for the wisdome of the heralded Comprehensive Plan. And if their are any taxpayers left standing by then, the Town can present them with the bill for the directives that are proposed by the Plan.

Anonymous said...

Samis will make a Bible reader of me yet.

Anonymous said...

the management budget review committee is a smart idea!

Anonymous said...

Is the money from Westhelp in the A budget? Or is that shown as to be expended to Valhalla, etc.?

Anonymous said...

The money from Westhelp is in the A budget.

Anonymous said...

And so the Westhelp money is NOT being budgeted as going to Valhalla, FFD

DND said...

Outstanding initiative ... Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Set the comprehensive plan aside for now you have more important things at hand.
Get the library to go on their own and let's see how many changes will be made to save taxpayers money.
The town has been too free with tax dollars given to the library
This has to stop someplace.
The parking authority should be part of the town operation not an outside vendor.
Would having a management committee in place make a difference if you get representatives from each civic association no.we will go back to square one.
Each area will be pushing for their own.
Now some lady said that properties should be reassessed,maybe she has the money to pay the difference or maybe her home is so old that her taxes would be lowered.
The people that represent their are
areas are always looking for ways to screw the residents.
Talking last or talking first means nothing because it is always the same story attack the supervisor and constantly praising Sir Francis.
yes we do need good management,You have Samis and another gentleman that worked on budgets for many years where he told the board of a method that would produce a good budget .This was explained at the last meeting and the first meeting on the budget.
Civic leaders do not make good managers.

Anonymous said...

But when Laser suggested a professional manager in his campaign against Feiner 4 years ago, Feiner convinced everyone that a professional manager couldn't do as good a job as he was doing. Maybe Laser was right.

Anonymous said...

Lasser will come back to life.

TWN BD SHOULD HAVE LISTENED said...

If the Town Board had followed Feiner's recommendations each year and not modified his budgets we would not be in this budget mess.
Feiner opposed the library construction-wanted a smaller library.
Feiner wanted the land that used to house the town hall to be sold to sunrise. The town would have received income from taxes every year and a few million+dollars for the purchase.
The Town Board overspent on capital projects.
the Town Board spent more than Feiner wanted on new employees.
I can go on and on.

Anonymous said...

There is no difference since we added police personel or any other dept. employee.
If a difference was noted I do not think the people would be up in arms.
More policeman where are they.
More highway men one looking at the other doing the work
More recreation parks are a mess,and what do these men do during the winter months.
Employees indoors at town hall are they all needed take a good look
Come on PAUL YOU HAVE A LOT OF WASTE IN ALL DEPARTMENTS.
wE NEED GOOD MANAGEMENT to put Greenburgh on thee right track.

Anonymous said...

The sale price was a bargain for Sunrise - no where near what the full market value might have been - and Hal, it was less than a competitor had already offered, so we know it WAS in fact below market value. The tax revenue stream would have been negligible, as Sunrise had already asked for a low-ball payment in lieu of taxes to make the project "economically feasible" and they refused to promise not to apply for certiorari even in the first year.
As for the library costs - if the Town is spending nearly $800,000 in interest cost to cover the first portion of the borrowing, the interest costs must (do the math) be close to 10% - either the Town got really screwed on the bonds and somebody is making a bloody fortune, or the accounting makes the $318,000 for building services on the non-existent building look legitimate.
A tax exempt financing on a AA (remember, Feiner brags about that) rated project should be in the neighborhood of 4.75% or about $47,500 for each million dollars borrowed - if the Town has already bonded $8 million of the total (using Feiner's own numbers) then the annual debt service should be about $380,000 - not the bogus numbers being circulated by the anti-literacy folks.

Anonymous said...

Dropping the new library funding from the budget would mean taxes would only go up 21.5% instead of 23%.
Wrong target - watch the politicians' fingers never leave their hands, or your pocket.

Anonymous said...

To 9:38 AM:
Nobody knows even 10% of "all," so why do we have so many "know-it-alls like you? What we really are short on is do-it-alls which, obviously you don't qualify for.

Any jerk can denigrate another person from the shadows. The "lapsed" CPA has done more quality financial analysis for a paltry $5,ooo than in excess of $1.5-2.0 million paid to cmptrollers lo these many years. So first read his document and then and only then you are entitled to critique and criticize it. Not in general terms but in specifics WITH your interpretation of how you see it differently.

Based on my assessment of your posting, and the quality of the presentation, I'd bet the farm Michael Jackson will give birth to triplets before you can accomplish this "daunting" task.

Uncovering redundencies will not generate the $7.5 million or so shortfall.

Sixteen years of Feiner, in and of itself, is not the reason. He has been aided and abetted by, for the most part, a rubber stamp board.

Calling him the Chief Financial Officer of this town is risible. He knows as much about finance as I know about forecasting the weather. Chief Executive Officer, DITTO! Supervisor? I don't know who he supervises. I do know he rides around on Halloween night with Chief Kapica and reports "crime and mischief, are down." Once a year he rides with a garbage truck crew and reports, "boy those bags are heavy." I don't know what he does with the rec dept. crews. Maybe he spreads manure to keep "Greenburgh Green."

That said, 9:38 AM, the guilty party in this all-to-long-running Soap Opera,is you and me and all the other suckers who've bought into Feiner's "line," and as last November's election attests,continue to buy into his sweet line of do-do (I would say SHIT) but this may be a family blog. We, as a town, have elected and returned him to office since before 1991 ( for those who don't remember, we also sent him to the county legislature in White Plains for some years.) That's alot of fooling at least 50.1% of the people all of that time.

As far as Jim Lasser's suggestion, that this town is so big it should be managed by a professional manager, it was a terrific idea then and even moreso now.

While I'm at it, it's confounding to me how the diaspora Jews living in Babyonia, over two thousand year ago, could have plagiarized Hal Samis' quality writing style, and verbiage as as well as content, written in this the 21st. century.

To paraphrase, this is the first day of the rest of our Greenburgh town tax increases, and we'd better get some professional help with our finances full time.
Ed Krauss

Anonymous said...

Kolesar's report is "risible" to use Krauss' $100 word. For example, Kolesar attempts to project tax increases over the next five years. That's laudable. However, Kolesar's projections were all based on the assumption that ratables in the unincorporated area would remain stable for the next five years.

In fact, ratables in the last two years have fallen by $11 million. By projecting tax increases based on ratables remaining stable, when in fact ratables are declining, Kolesar painted an unreasonably rosy picture calculated to camouflage a serious erosion in the tax base.

Maybe Krauss thinks that's just dandy, but some of us in the unincorporated areas think that's the kind of sleight of hand that we don't need, thank you very much.

So what should be done about that 23% increase? Krauss would be well advised to pick up a copy of the budget proposal and do what the rest of us are doing, examining it line by line, asking questions, and showing up at the next public hearing armed to the teeth.

hal samis said...

Dear Mr. Krauss and Mr. Lasser,

Maybe there is a U.S. President that everyone would like and agree with.

And maybe there could even be a Town Supervisor that everyone would like and agree with.

But for now, we are stuck with the same system for hiring both.

And whereas most citizens lacked the inertia to get to the polling booth, in Greenburgh Feiner was the clear winner; we can have no idea what those who did not vote think.

But what job title was he running for? The number of responsiblities that accompany his office appears myriad. Town Supervisor, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer. No matter. However, you, me and he agree that he does not have a financial resume nor does he have a construction resume nor does he have an assessor resume nor does he have a highway department resume nor does he have a library resume nor does he have a civil engineer resume nor does he...

But you get the idea.

And who does, because you can say the same thing for any person at the head of the table, be it the President of the United States, the Governor of the State, the County Executive, the Town Supervisor, the "community" leader AND the person who got hired as a Professional Manager.

The only person who makes the claim to know everything is Francis Sheehan so ask him next year if he wants to install a Professional Manager for Greenburgh. Similarly, you have asked and gotten the answer from fellow Democrats Berger and Greenawalt. And it was no. They felt that they were up to the job.

But the answer that works and is a practical one lies in another direction.

Perhaps you, me, he et al need to take a closer look at those who are listed as Department heads. These are the men and women whose resumes indicate that they should have management skill in their particular area of expertise but many of them got there solely through longevity and learning on the job -- but learning on the job, too, can be misleading. A person with 10 years on the job may only have 6 months experience 20 times. Especially if their teacher was ignorant. Perhaps it IS long overdue that a review of their job performance be begun. When we thought that all was well and that there were no problems, we never looked below the surface. Now, we must. So what I argue is that we need to take a HARD look at the individuals charged with running Departments. We need to know what their Department goals are for the coming year. They in turn need to know that they need to set goals. And these goals are not ones tailored for the few or for one area of town. We know that they do a very good job in making sure that they are still around each year to draw a paycheck but do we know how well they are accomplishing what they are being paid to do?

Of course, Mr. Sheehan will say the opposite and that it is insulting to say anything against our excellent Town staff. In his mind, there is only one villain. Yet he hungers for the day that it could be him.

Enough with this tiresome Professional Manager crap. Let's drop this idealized conception that one man knows A-Z and can cut through all the problems with just a shake of his head or dictating a memo. If you want to find gold or diamonds in bulk, you've got to do the drudge work and start digging.

The problem with Greenburgh is that when you start digging what you are going to find in most Departments are low-grade lumps of coal.

But as insulting as that may be taken, why is it acceptable to say that only the Town Supervisor is the one who is screwing up every aspect of how the Town is run?

What Mr. Lasser, Mr. Krauss and others might do to actually improve conditions is to take a chance on what may very well be the new and improved Greenburgh. Their nemesis, Feiner, has won the election, the right to retain his seat for another two years. This victory followed a bitter two year didactic period in which no stone was left unturned. Now he has the means, his own vote and presumably two friendly votes, to set things right or a least embark on the road to recovery.

If you want to remain commentators and or critics from afar, that is your right. Or, you can do as I have attempted, adopt a Town Department and learn it inside and out. I've already staked out the Library. But the others are still available. Now's the chance to do something positive and forward thinking instead of just being a generalist resting on laurels.
Everyone has some particular area of interest and expertise.

If you care.

hal samis said...

And, as for 4:10, the anonymous expert and poseur,

"the sale price to Sunrise"

If only the bucks mattered, then if Greenburgh were to sell the Watermill property in Ardsley to a group seeking to build a residence for, say, sexual predators there should be no problem if they offered the highest price.

Because if a Starbucks or six family building, whatever the zoning permitted, offered less dollars, the community would have to accept the "level offenders" because the bucks were greater and bucks level the playing field.

Or if a "competitor", say, a halfway house, also bid, there should also be no problem if they dangled more bucks.

At the old town hall site, there were other issues beyond just the dollars. Although my examples above were selected as incendiary they were meant to squash the idea that just the dollars count as you chose to disguise your sick puppy.

And the issues as I recall had to do with what the neighbors, including the Library, preferred after considering such matters as building bulk and height, parking, traffic, and demands upon municipal services. So if you want to play darts, let us know all the point values on the board, not just the highest value but smallest area in the center.

As for Library debt service, although the bonds are interest only, unlike your home mortgage which self-amorizes over the term, muncipal serial bonds are retired periodically through sinking funds.
Even if they are paid off differently from a home mortgage, the borrowed amount must be "returned" as well as the interest. But there are no secrets. Look at the tentative budget on page X and XI and you will see $10,000,000 issued 10/07 @ 4.207% the last maturity being May 30. On December 31, 2008 (a year later) the principal outstanding is $9,500,000 because a little of the debt gets paid off periodically. In 10/05, the town sold some $2 million plus of bonds @ 3.758% interest, the final maturity is 10/25 but the outstanding balance on 12/31/08 will be $2,020,000.

The components of borrowing are interest AND repayment of principal. Thus, part of the annual debt service consists of setting aside the return of the principal.

And even a student at Greenburgh 7 can tell that the recent 4.207% (remember that Feiner bragged about that) interest is less than your working knowledge of AA munis costing 4.75%. And even using your interest only calculation on the incorrect eight million, the interest only on ten million is $42,700 per million, not your estimate of $47,500. I'll stick with Feiner, thank you.

Fortunately you have blogged as anonymous because it is you, not the numbers that are bogus. Were you to sign your name, residents would have a better idea of where the illiteracy in town actual resides.

Anonymous said...

Samis took center stage at the last budget hearing, but when all was said and done, Samis had nothing to say.

Why? Because all Samis wants to do is fire people who work for the town, paid or volunteer, starting with anyone who works for the library, the police, public works and sanitation. And if anyone on the town council, or from the public, dares to defend any town personnel, paid or volunteer, Samis smears them. From the smirk on his face, he obviously having fun. It looks to me like he's doing this purely to entertain himself. He even boasts, usually by the fifth or sixth time he's up at the microphone, that he himself pays no taxes and, while he tries to pretend otherwise, he does no real homework, he generally shoots from the lip, and for the most part never offers any constructive suggestions about anything.

Samis claims he doesn't speak for Feiner, but it's hard to tell, because Feiner himself tries at every moment to shift responsibility for the current debacle to anyone but himself. No wonder Feiner let Samis speak endlessly at the last budget hearing.

And forget "dial democracy." Either Feiner wasn't answering the phone on purpose, or the system was broken. Nope, as far as Feiner was concerned, Samis was carrying the torch, and the rest of the public be damned.

This is, of course, no way to run the railroad.

There is plenty wrong with the budget and that 23% increase is plainly unjustified. But all residents from unincorporated Greenburgh could do was protest the costs and listen to Samis bleat on endlessly about villainous town employees.

At least Chief Kapica had the patience to wait all night before letting Samis and Feiner have it.

But where are the residents who do take the time to study the budget? Where were they last Wednesday night? Will we hear from on Monday or will we be stuck with more of the same?

hal samis said...

Another cowardly anonymous comment from the vicinity of Poets Corners.

Where is this anonymous resident who argues that residents should take the time to study the budget and speak out.

It seems that this particular frustrated man-hater only has the time to criticize me and not offer some positive comments about how to solve the budget crisis.

The anonymous blogger complains that no one stood up to address the issues but that I took center stage and that I was allowed to bleat on and on. First there is only one place to speak from, that is the podium and that becomes center stage by default. If the blogger wanted to speak, they had as much right as anyone to speak. If the phone system for dial-in democracy didn't work again, maybe instead of firing the persons responsible as I would suggest, the writer would want to hire an additional employee charged with this responsibility and bill the taxpayers for some more wasted dollars.

As for stating that I don't pay taxes, this is known as disclosure and because if I didn't, the blogger would be attacking me that I shouldn't be talking because I don't pay taxes.

Of course, this particular blogger is welcome to come to Town Hall, or even on this blog, to register these comments and provide their own solutions to the budget problem but that isn't what this blogger is about, is it?

Tis the season to be jolly and all we have is the online anti-christmas carol.

ed krauss said...

To 8:28 nee 9:28 AM.

I apologize for using a $100 word.

I don't know what Mr. Kolesar based his forecast on, but knowing him I don't think he is as simplistic as you portay.I also can't find in his projections anything resembling a footnote stating "these prjections are based on ratables that will remain stable," or words to that effect.Criticism based on a unilateral assumption is unwarranted. Maybe you should first ask him, you know "load before you shoot."

You also make an assumption about me.That being, I did not review the budget, absorb it and think it through before I opened my mouth.

You are wrong again.I did! And, my conclusions are (a)a line by line analysis will prove little or nothing, and(b) one has to read BETWEEN the lines. That is where we will begin to see (another $500 phrase) our bete noir.

Now that I have used up all of my high priced vocabulary, I will tell you in all candor "we are in deep shit, and we truly need a professional comptoller well versed in financial analysis."

We are running a shortfall of about $7.5 million this year. With escalating contractual agreements accounting for about 70% ofour budget- which have built in cost of living increase and accompanying increasing health benefit costs (totally paid for by the town,) and other major debt service items coming on board in next year's budget not even "Voodoo" economics will help.

You and everyone else in town,out of town, out of county and out of state can review the budget and come to the same conclusion. WE HAVE TO START DOING BUSINESS AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT WAY!!!!!

And we have to start now.Step one should start with someone who knows what he/she is talking about. Degreed, experienced, and familiar with the basic problem so he/she can hit the road running.

By the way, a "lapsed" CPA can be reinstated in about a week. So please keep your eye on the donut and not the hole.

Ed Krauss

Anonymous said...

The chief was speaking his mind as to not to cut the budget for the PD.
He did not put anyone in their place.
He said his peace which by the way no one is 100% behind what he said.
We cannot afford his demands and that's it.
We live on a fixed income we cannot ask our employers for a raise.
We accept what is given to us maybe yearly and maybe not at all.
Because of the problems facing each homeowner ,taxes have to be lowered.
If the chief thinks this is wrong he has enough years to retire with a hellava good pension.
My pension right now is not a secure one but his is.
If a good management person is needed to bring taxes down rather than high each year to come so be it.
We need help and we cannot wait too long .

hal samis said...

Dear Ed,

You are over-charging. Bete noire is only going for $289.95 on Ebay and, even with the lower price, you get the missing accent marks.

However as for you post, you are both wrong and right. The problems are not hidden; the numbers are in full view; however sometimes you do have to turn the page.

A line by line analysis and review and a sharpened red pencil CAN result in a lower tax increase this year.
The Town Board has nothing of substance to do other than deal with the budget for the remainder of this year. So they should not be be parlyzed with fear or otherwise disabled which would explain their reluctance to reduce the increase in the lines which contribute to the problem. Getting in the habit of eliminating WASTE as soon as it appears hazards no downside.
And even if only by a 1% result, taxpayers would rather have the 1% in their pocket and recognize that the Town Board cares versus throwing up their hands in surrender. However I suspect that an immediate and substantial savings can be realized if the Town Board has the guts to start now. That sums up the wrong.

As for the right, you are correct that the Town needs to adopt a longer term and "sticking" way of doing business and that this will over time lower the tax bite to tolerable levels. And I concur that hiring Mr. Kolesar would be a needed first step on that road because the Town needs to implement several initiatives that will not only track the money better but establish a template to determine if it is being spent to produce quantitative and qualifiable results. Mr. Kolesar who is nearing retirement can take the "hit" to his resume if he steps on toes; someone with a career still ahead may be loathe to burn bridges and thus we would find ourselves back at square one.

But it has to start with the first step and there is still time enough not only to remove the worn out shoelaces but also to relace them firmly in place. We can make a difference starting this year.
We just have to do it. By moving to close the Public Hearing on the budget, Councilman Bass, a lame duck now more concerned with getting home early, was acknowledging that this year the Town Council could suggest no changes to the Tentative Budget. When the other members awoke from their slumber, they realized that was not going to play well in two years come Primary time. So there is still time and the taxpayers need to continue to nudge their elected officials to take another look. I'm certain that there is at least a 5% reduction in the increase. Urge them to look again at the fund balance and and also to look covetously at the Town's larger departments. Shake them a little and I'm sure that there will be lots of "found" money.

When EST was a popular movement in the 60's, the entry point was the realization that if you were instructed to pick up a chair, you either were able or you weren't.
What was not acceptable behavior was "trying" to pick up the chair.

If the chair is too heavy, buy a smaller one.

Anonymous said...

Samis, Krauss and Kolesar are all clueless about how to cut Greenburgh's budget.

Samis spoke endlessly as if he had studied the matter, but a close examination of what he had to say shows he had not done his homework. For Samis, it's all about cutting the library any which way he can because he still can't get over the fact that the voters, when given the choice, didn't choose to do what he and Feiner had wanted them to do.

Sorry Samis, but the 23% hike is not due to the library. Not at all.

As for Krauss, he offers nothing in the way of constructive suggestions. His only goal is to get the incoming town board to hire his friend Kolesar to be the next town comptroller.

There are many problems with putting Kolesar in charge. As an Ardsley trustee, Kolesar proved himself during his tenure there to be nothing more than a pro-village hack who would say or do anything he could to find ways to screw the town's unincorporated areas.

All Kolesar did (and will continue to do) was toady up to Rosenberg, a self-appointed town nobody who has done more to sow divisiveness in this town between the villages and the unincorporated areas than any of the leaders from the unincorporated areas he loves to smear as being responsible for what he and Feiner have done.

And don't think having Kolesar "advising" Feiner for $5,000 didn't cost the unincorporated areas plenty more than that. It is difficult to believe Kolesar sat by quietly while Feiner unilaterally refused to go along with the prior town comptroller's recommendations with respect to the state comptroller's opinion concerning State Comptroller Opinion 2006-10.

The truly dangerous thing about Kolesar is that he doesn't know what he doesn't know. He simply shoots from the lip (like Samis and Krauss) and wouldn't even know to ask for advice from others or from counsel.

One need only go back and re-read the Ardsley yahoo blog for examples of just how divisive and embarrassing it can be having Kolesar in public office.

No, none of these small-town poobahs with their petty agendas know the first thing about how to fix the 23% increase.

But hopefully there are others in town who do. Because this 23% increase is being visited upon the town's unincorporated areas by people who don't seem to give a rat's ass about the consequences, and who don't seem to want to do the hard work needed to get the unincorporated area's finances in proper working order.

michael kolesar said...

Dear 12/1 8:28 PM,

I gather that you won't identify yourself because if you did your future comments, especially if made in public, would not be taken very seriously.

First, do you really undertand what a financial model is and how it can be used? Probably not. There are many variables and for "simplicity" as most taxpayers do not have a finance and accounting background, I choose to keep one of the variables, i.e. assessables constant at $320,000,000. I very very clearly stated that this was not a conservative assumption. After all just above I noted that assessables have fallen by 15.9% since their high in 1989. A further decline in assessables will just add to the somewhat challenging financial future facing the unincorporated portion of the Town. Just put whatever assumption that you want into the model to see the results.

One may challenge any of the assumptions. It's just a financial model and one that no Comptroller in the history of the Town ever created or presented to the public. If you want to nit pick and find fault, so be it.

By email today, Jack Mclaughlin, a resident of the unincorporated portion of the town and, I believe former member of SCOBA, wrote

"Thank you for sending me the portion of your report to the Town Board concerning Fund Balance and Future Year's Tax Rate implications - "B" Budget.
This is the type of financial modeling that I told the Town Board at last week's Town Board meeting that the town needed to be doing. I was not aware that you had already done
this." "Your analysis shows that taxes will increase much faster than the usual rates of inflation / cost of living. As you point out, the assumption regarding assessable is not a conservative one. I agree."

I didn't "fool" a knowledgeable individual who understands finance and financial models. I wasn't trying to. It's all laid out for all to read and, hopefully understand. No one can say next October if there is another double digit tax increase ( and, yes I believe that it will be a double digit tax increase based on the current available information and spending decisions of the Town Board) that they "didn't know what was coming.

hal samis said...

To 4:56,
I guess the Town is lucky that there are "hopefully" others who will do the work. We're not going to get anything constructive from your keyboard are we.

And the 23% hike has nothing to do with the Library. You mean that the addition of the Library bond funding debt service wasn't even part of the total? And you think that the increase in next year's operating budget has nothing to do with it either?

If your post was just to show what an idiot you are, I can stop right here having proven my case.

Anonymous said...

I am really embarrassed at the writing by the 4:56 blogger.

Why do these people, who think they know everything but really don't know much at all, make their points only by insults and denigrating those who offer suggestions that don't consist of attacks on Feiner.

Samis and Krauss have made meaningful comments about department functions, especially Samis. Kolesar is a professional who has done an analysis of our budgeting that no comptroller has ever done before, and he seems to have been an outstanding trustee in Ardsley. Rosenberg who is Bernstein's favorite whipping boy, has made important legal comments, and just last Wednesday made the most useful suggestion of the evening, that the Town Hoard arrange for an up and down study of each department's operations to find what is overstuffed and what can be cut for efficiency.

Make your arguments, 4:56, but don't do it by crapping on people who don't meet your wish to be Feiner critics. Each of them has made more contributions than you did in your anonymous letter which made no suggestions at all, only name calling.

Anonymous said...

Ed,

Care to guess how easy it is for a "lapsed" CPA who has been repesenting himself as a CPA to get reinstated?

ed krauss said...

To 4:56 PM:
Please clue me in, and, insodoing clue in the town folk on the specifics of how YOU would go about reducing my town taxes. Yes, I live in the unincorporated part of Greenburgh.

The viciousness with which you attack Mike Kolesar, and the fountain of misinformation you spread is despicable.

He was one of the best trustees Ardsley ever had, and the only one who raised questions about their budget. Because of his financial acumen, he saved the village lots of money.

Being a village hack? Is that like being a partisan? He was involved with doing what is right, not unlike what you think you are doing...absent the slander.

Toadying up to Herb Rosenberg is another of your obvious "passing acquaitence with truth" tendencies.

In your extended posting, smearing Kolesar, and accusatory treatment of me and Hal, what have you "brought to the table" re: reducing the budget? You freely state that we haven't brought anything. I don't see one constructive suggestion from you other than the gratuitous "let's all get together and bail."

Other than sniping and tearing done a person's reputation without any proof whatsoever, what are your credentials? What is your degree, if any, in? How many budgets have you put together and/or analyzed?

I have a degree in econometrics cum laude, and an MBA graduating first in my discipline.

Oh yes, I have no tolerence for pusilanimous, captious, back-biting, know nothing do nothing excuses for a member of the human species like you.

If Kolesar is wrong, he puts his name to it.

If Samis is wrong, he puts his name to it.

If Lasser is wrong, he puts his name to it.

And since I'm rarely if ever wrong, I have no worries about putting my name to the lip I shoot from.

How about you?

P.S. Other than yopu being a slanderer, based on the time you posted you dreck, 4:56PM Sunday,you are not a loyal football Giant fan,

Anonymous said...

Reduce the staff of the Town Attorney's office. Reduce outside counsel jobs. Big savings for taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

What has Kolesar been doing? Has he demanded an explanation of the Fund T, or Special Purpose Funds? These are supposed to be, according to the Town audited financial statements, funds held pursuant to a trust agreement. I dont think anyone has ever seen this trust fund. So we have a fund NOT under budgetary control.

Anonymous said...

Feiner - if you are serious about your management/budget committee being non-political why don't you invite Lasset to serve?
He has a background in finance and has been remarkably quiet for the last several months - perhaps he has been giving you the chance you wanted.

michael kolesar said...

Dear 12/2 7:49 PM,

If you want to question me, please have the deciency to identify yourself. One can't hide behind some kind of "retribution" as I am a private citizen.

To your question, what have I been doing? I have not been working for the Town of Greenburgh since October 31st. I was not engaged to perform an audit of Fund T. Ask Bennett Kielson. They are the independent auditors of the Town.

I worked for the Town under the direction of both the Town Supervisor and the Acting Town Comptroller, Bart Talamini. I had recommendations as to what areas I should look into, but THEY controlled my activities. Every day, the entire Town Board received an email update as to the hours worked and the activities that I was engaged in. At no time did any Town Board member ever question the activities or priorities. If you are unhappy, ask them. Or better yet, ask them to engage me to look into your concerns.

Anonymous said...

This is a budget issue, not an accounting issue, at this time, so I ask again, why are the funds in Fund T not included in the Budget.

Herb Rosenberg said...

Thank you Ed Krauss for exposing the cowardly 4:56 blogger.

If there is one thing that I have learned reading the Supervisor's blog, it is that some people (mostly from unincorporated, but occasioanally some from the villages) cannot put forth arguments and substantive suggestions, and make their points (if you can call it making their points) by insulting and demonizing those who have the guts and the knowledge to make substantive arguments and suggestions.

You, Hal Samis, Mike Kolesar, Jim Lasser and I are the most prominent objects for this perversion of the deliberative process, though I am sure that others have been given the treatment. And as it happens, all of the above, including me, have tried to make constructive comments and suggestions, allowing that people may not agree with them. We wait in vain for an answer other than personal attacks. I have dealt with it by not writing any more because who needs this garbage (I am sure that the nastiness will shortly follow upon this letter).

These people know only three words, which are their answer to everything, however irrelevant. They are: Feiner, WestHelp, and the villages. Is it any wonder that the town government is so dysfunctional?

Anonymous said...

PAUL PLEASE SAY NO TO ALL RAISES.

Anonymous said...

So Paul have you reached out to Rosenberg,Samis,Kolesar and Lasser to ask them to serve on your committee - or have you decided that having critics involved in the process would make it too difficult?

Anonymous said...

The committee doesn't need Rosenberg, Samis, Kolesar and Lasser, howver good they may be on other committees. This committee needs people who have run businesses and know how to run operations. I hope Paul finds such people.

Anonymous said...

Each of the four has run a successful business. Pay attention or pay additional taxes.

Anonymous said...

TO MY JEWISH NEIGHBORS ////////

HAPPY HANUKKAH

Anonymous said...

Each of the four has a run a successful business -- you gotta be kidding. What evidence do you have of that? Could you list the businesses so that I can check them out.

Kolesar -- so succesful as a CPA, let his license lapse.

Sammis -- lives in apartments behin Central Ave -- no car??

Anonymous said...

How do we know these arent people who do Feiner's bidding in the hopes of getting a well paying job?

Anonymous said...

How have they done Feiner's bidding? Samis does nobody's bidding. He has been an equal-opportunity critic, when criticism is necessary. He has criticized Feiner when Feiner was wrong and he supports him when he is doing a decent job. Samis has supported Bernstein when he thought that Bernstein was doing something proper and he has been his critic when Bernstein is deceiving people because he is trying to get an Edgemont village.

Kolesar has criticized Feiner plenty in his calls to Board meetings. He recently wrote a report on the budget which exposed how bad our future is. That's not supporting Feiner.

Both these people have lots to offer, even though doing an operations review is not their proper role.

Anonymous said...

Samis and Kolesar consistently support Feiner on major issues. Which is their right to do so. But please, somewhat point me to the succesful businesses they have run.

Anonymous said...

Oh well Samis has no car.
Kolesar has a lapsed CPA license.
What does this have to do in giving the good advice that they have contributed right along.
Who are you to ask what businesses they ran?
Too bad you feel that youare in a better position than both of them.
Look at how much money Samis saves.
You with your Mercedes spend money foolishly
Kolesar is retired from the business he now is a consultant is there anything wrong with that .What do you do for a living ?
Do you have any qualifications to help greenburgh at this time?
If you do come forward.