Sunday, November 16, 2008

WEDNESDAY MEETING: 7:30 pm White Plains Women's Club, 305 Ridgeway, White Plains RETHINKING WESTCHESTER GOV

Westchester county residents pay the highest taxes in the country and as the economy slips further into recession they will be asked to pay even more.

* Yonkers residents county tax increased by 24% along with a 71/2% local real estate tax increase in 2008.

* Yonkers announce a 200/300 city employee reduction starting in December 2008.

* New Rochelle announces a 8% tax rise

* Harrison announces a 13% tax rise

* Peekskill announces a 11% tax rise

* Ossining is fighting an 18% tax hike

* Greenburgh's tax hike for 2009 is 7.7%

The state will be cutting the school funding for towns/cities which will put further pressure on them to increase local taxes and or dramatically reduce services.

It is time that we rethink our local, county and state governments structure and spending. Such things as sharing local services and even eliminating or dramatically reducing county government.

On Wednesday evening at 7:30 in the White Plains women's club at 305 Ridgeway Avenue, there will be a presentation by a group of Westchester county residents on how successful our two neighboring states Massachusetts and Connecticut were in eliminating county government. We can apply this successful transition to reducing or eliminating Westchester county government. There will be a recommendation which will involve our state legislative delegation.

In addition to the presentations we will be announcing a new web site that will be devoted to keeping Westchester county residents and their political leader informed on matters relating to county government.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you, Mr Supervisor, didn't use about $3.8 million in fund balances and use $750,000 from a possible one time sale of "surplus" Town property to "hold" down the tax hike, the unincorporated Greenburgh taxes would have increased in excess of 13%. Let's tell the whole story for a change Mr. Supervisor. The truth will set all of us free.

Anonymous said...

County is a huge waste .

greenburgh is better... said...

Dear 3:44 PM
Sorry that you are disappointed with the fact that the town tax hikes are lower than surrounding communities.
The town has a great reputation for sound fiscal planning.
The town has a great reputation for excellent services too.
Sorry to disappoint.

ed krauss said...

Reading 3:44 PM's posting, there is no mention, implied or to be inferred, of disappointment. He is simply asking for a recitation of the whole story. Additionally, he uses speific facts, not in dispute.: $3.8 million from various fund balances and $750,000 from the sale of "surplus" town property. He doesn't even question how that number was arrived at. The answer to which Mr.Feiner, at the ECC meeting, refused to answer. I came away with the feeling he was either trying to hide something, or he didn't know. I was not alone.I, and others would like to know how $750,000 was arrived at.

You Mr/Ms, 4:22 PM make statements which are not substantiated, could not be substantiated and in fact are untrue.

"The town's great( that's a "great" deal to live up to) reputation for sound fiscal planning," as attested to by what authoritative source?

"The town's great reputation for excellent services( not even very good, but great) measured by what authoritative source?

Your hyperbolic nonsense would carry more weight if it were backed up with facts...something 3:44has done.

Anonymous said...

*sticks fingers in ears and sings* Lalala lala lalalalalalala.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see the antiquated township concept eliminated. "Unincorporated" makes no sense for us.

Anonymous said...

It is wrong for Feiner to spend his time on this "abolish county government" publicity stunt when there is so much work to be done by Feiner and the town board in cutting non-essential expenses from the town budget for 2009, so that the essential expenses already cut can be restored and the town can avoid drawing down on the fund balance which it promised last December it would not do.

Anonymous said...

I am going to attend the meeting Wednesday night. County government is a waste! Greenburgh government rocks!

Anonymous said...

No county government = reduced taxes. I want my town officials to speak out and help eliinate unnecessary government.

town govt is in trouble said...

I don't think Greenburgh government "rocks." It's one of the most wasteful governments in Westchester County.

It entered into a contract to give away $6.5 million of town revenues to the Valhalla School District -- a contract that was investigated by the state comptroller and found to be illegal.

It entered into a contract to give away for free $1 million of town revenues to the Fairview Fire District.

It entered into a contract this year to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an "after school" program for the Greenburgh Central school district -- yet another waste of taxpayer funds. Other schools simply contract with the local YMCA for such programs, at no cost to taxpayers.

It is facing up to $5.7 million in damages -- that will be charged to all town taxpayers -- for allegedly violating the rights of a church that wanted to build off Dobbs Ferry Road. No municipal government that "rocks" would be so reckless as to expose town taxpayers to such liability.

To avoid a second year of double digit tax hikes, the Town raided several million dollars from its fund balance, even though back in December it adopted a policy promising never to do so again. It did this after blaming this year's 21% tax hike on irresponsible use of its fund balance in prior years. No responsible municipal government would do that.

Chief Kapica has warned that if the town continues its plan to cut funding for the police department, that public safety will be compromised. That doesn't sound like a town government that "rocks." That sounds like a town government that can't tell the difference between essential and non-essential spending.

And now we also have a town government that may be "on the rocks." The Court of Appeals has agreed to hear arguments that the Town's method of allocating the cost of parks and rec costs solely to unincorporated Greenburgh may be unconstitutional.

None of this sounds like a government that rocks. It sounds like a government that's incredibly dysfunctional. This is why Feiner should stick to solving problems here in Greenburgh. His publicity stunts at the county level are an embarrassment to us all.

Anonymous said...

I watch the Town Board meetings on TV. Whatever the town does - the naysayers object. This is democracy but it's also absurd.
Greenburgh is not in trouble.
The town was recognized by a national magazine as one of the best places in the entire United States. IMPRESSIVE.
The town bond rating is the highest it can be. IMPRESSIVE
The town tax hikes this year are lower than many surrounding communities. ALSO IMPRESSIVE
Services are great.
Town staff are helpful.
The Town Board is working together.
The Town Board is making the tough decisions, making cuts that are not very harmful.
Town staff members are not being laid off.
I am happy.

Anonymous said...

The town is not in trouble! Some people want the town to be in trouble. Sad, but true.

bond rating in jeopardy said...

The bond rating agency increased Greenburgh's bond rating this year after it adopted a fund balance policy promising never again to use the town's fund balance to cover operating revenues. The town is now using that fund balance to avoid a second year of double digit tax hikes. Lots of people in town were disappointed that the town couldn't live by its own rules. I wonder how long it takes before the bond rating is reduced. And considering how much the fund balance policy is being violated, I wonder how much of a bond rating reduction there will be.

Anonymous said...

The grammar usage (particular the present tense ) and sentence structure makes me think that 4:22, 8:38, 8:52, 10:00, and 10:26 are the same person. But, boosters of the Feiner administration never use their names, so how can we know for sure?

Anonymous said...

Read the fund balance policy carefully. There are exceptions to the policy.

feiner acting recklessly said...

The only exceptions to the fund balance policy are for "emergencies" and "service delivery requirements."

The supervisor's definition of an "emergency" is coming into an election year with a second double digit tax hike in a row. Will Moody's agree with that definition? Not likely.

Regardless, we've got a tentative budget from the supervisor that uses millions of dollars of reserved funds from the fund balance to fund current operating expenses for 2009, and that uses another $750,000 is estimated revenues from sales of surplus property to fund additional operating expenses. Both uses are strictly prohibited by the town's fund balance policy.

The town hasn't declared an emergency entitling it to depart from these guidelines. Wouldn't it then have made sense for the town supervisor at least to try to work within these self-imposed guidelines -- guidelines adopted to ensure the town's longterm financial health -- instead of continuing to divert attention from these problems by pointing fingers at county government?

After all, if county government were abolished, its functions would likely be placed in the hands of town governments, and if Greenburgh's government is any example, the results would be dangerously irresponsible for all town taxapayes.

Oh, and this year's county spending is going up by only 3%. Greenburgh's is going up nearly five times as much.

Every level of government is cutting spending because, as the governor has said, it's more important in the current economic climate to cut spending than to raise taxes.

It's too bad Greenburgh has a town government that still doesn't get it.

Eliminating County Govt May Not Be Good for Gburgh said...

If county govt is eliminated, some costs, like Medicare, are state mandated -- who will pay? Will our share be greater? Other costs, like the B Line buses can be eliminated. But, fwi, 10% of all bus trips are on Central Avenue. Do we want that reduced?

Reduction of County Govt is unlikely, and may actually cost Gburgh residents money -- Does Feiner care?

Disgruntled Greenburgher said...

Perhaps all the "eliminate County government" folks have it backwards.

Let's eliminate Town government - it serves almost no modern purpose, and Greenburgh is a prime example. The unincorporated area's largest expenses are police, sanitation, recreation and social services. As the famous Westchester 2000 study pointed out in great detail, these are broadbased service needs and can be addressed much more efficiently by governments with a broad geographical and population-diverse base.

The larger the service area, the greater the number of taxpayers who will contribute to revenues - and consequently the smaller the per taxpayer burden.

By the way, Greenburgh is not managed - it has a Supervisor whose sole focus has been constituient services. This has created a mini-welfare state in the unincorporated north end - and a state of rebellion everywhere else. The Town articulates a good and sensible fund balance policy one year, and throws it out the window the next when enforcing it would have required cutbacks in services. The Town starts working on a Master Plan - but without leadership it gives in and "spot" zones tracts to satisfy a law firm which happens to be the Supervisor's largest contributor. The Town tries to save money by building a garage to house part of its fleet of very expensive garbage trucks - but to save money builds the garage 6" too short to fit the trucks. The Town saves $6 million by not going through the task of revaluation - and the result is the annual loss of more than $9 million in tax revenues. These are examples of missing management. A professional would never survive even one such diaster - but a politican relying on the attention deficit disorder demonstrated by the electorate can brag about his record.

The Democratic People's Republic of Greenburgh, its Paulitburo and its Commissar must go!

Anonymous said...

Do away with police department and save 15 million dollars! the state police would have to provide the service with help of county police just like they do in Cortland and somers. What are we waiting for?
Do away with the TDYCC and have YMCA take over,and parks and rec could absorb some programs and again save millions!
Do away with sanitation and get a private company and save millions!
what are we waiting for ?
Anybody have answers?
Merge the fire depts!
What do you think Paul

hal samis said...

Is this where residents should go to ask the County government (which Feiner says we don't need) why they are administering HEAP, a program the Supevisor seems to favor?

Anonymous said...

I would cut the entire budget, and eliminate County government itself. Fairfield County in Connecticut is very smilar in size, population, and demographics as Westchester. Yet, Fairfield has NO county government, and local taxes are about 70% lower than similar homes in Westchester !

Anonymous said...

Hal: The county administers HEAP. Funding comes from other levels of government (fed)

Anonymous said...

1:01 -- Fairfield is very dissimiliar in that Westchester has much mandated services such as medicare. In Ct, the state pays.

Anonymous said...

It's funny to read Mr. Feiner's anonymous posts!

Anonymous said...

It would be better to eliminate town governments and let the county take over areas that are not incorporated as cities or villages. But really, neither will be eliminated, so the county and state should encourage (with incentives) cities, villages and townships to collaborate.

ed krauss said...

10: PM, I'm really curious. All you have done is heap compliments on the Town administration.

Yet, you choose to do so in anonymity.It can't be because you're afraid Freiner will retaliate.Can it be because you're too modest to accept the accolade of the yet to be created "BLOGGER OF THE MONTH" award. Just think you would be the very first recipient of yet another Superfluous Supervisor's 15 micro-seconds of fame award.

Or is it people would know you are either a monumental SUCKUP, or worse yet, the Supevisor himself in drag.

You don't have to reveal yourself, just, in "IMPRESSIVE" fashion, tell me WHY?????

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry I missed the meeting. I didn't know it was Sunday but I'll keep an eye out now. Thank you

Anonymous said...

To the illustrious Town Supervisor of the 80th something or other "small city"/town in the land.

This 80th whatever has more than enough problems of its own. You get more than $125,000 a year to solve our problems. Since you without question don't spend enough time with Greenburgh problems maybe you should "mind your own business" about county government or any other time wasting hair brained ideas.

If you think you can fix the problems of the world, quit, become a consultant and quadruple your income.

If you don't have the stomach for that, could out your half ace grandstanding, stay at the office and get a mentor to teach you how to do the job you are paid to do.

In case it slipped by you. MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

Anonymous said...

WHITEHEAD STILL MAKING THE BIG BUCKS AND DOING NOTHING!

Finally a qualified, educated Commissioner with an established track record has been hired for the TDYCC, However in a total waste of taxpayer dollars, Whitehead who is under police investigation is still getting the double salary raise, not punching in, leaving the work place, and doing absolutely NOTHING! Why is Sonya so determined to champion this misfit!?!?!? Whitehead must have the goods on someone. What a rotten message to honest town employees who are working hard every working day. Worse still is the public sees the ENTIRE Center as being under investigation when it is ONLY VALERIE WHITEHEAD who committed thief of services crimes. But the whole Department's reputation is being made to suffer because of her selfishness, greed, and need for power. A blind person could see that she accomplished NOTHING during her time as Interim Commissioner. She gave away the farm to no show staff, including her nephew. So now as a result of her overspending, legitimate services will need to be cut. She is an affront to any person who is decent. Yet she dares calls herself "blessed". Actually she is indeed blessed...

Blessed by Greenburgh taxpayers who AREN'T calling for her termination.