Friday, September 18, 2009

work session agenda, sales tax revenue down, weekend activities

Town of Greenburgh

Work Session Agenda of the Greenburgh Town Board

Tuesday – September 22, 2009 – 9:00AM

(The October 6, 2009 Work Session will begin at 2:00pm)

(Please note that, although the Work Session Agenda is shared with the public prior to each Work Session, the Agenda may be revised at any point up to the start of the meeting as well as during the meeting, if necessary.)

(All Work Sessions are Televised Live on Cablevision Channel 76, Verizon 35 and are streamed live. Work Sessions and Town Board Meetings will be aired each Friday, Saturday and Sunday starting at 7:02am and 4:45pm. Each segment will run for approximately 6 to 7 hours,

depending upon the length of the two meetings.)

09:00AM: Budget Meeting – Police Department

10:30AM: Waterwheel – 27 Main Street

11:00AM: Ridge Hill Update

11:25 911 Wall restoration update

11:30AM: Historic & Landmark Preservation Committee – Commissioner

Community Development and Conservation

This Weekend EVENTS (

- Farmers Markets
- Apple Picking Season has begun!
- Art exhibition featuring local artist Andrew Bordwin in NYC
- Tarrytown Third Friday
- “The Sky Tonight” at Hudson River Museum
- Free Music and Entertainment in Dobbs, Ardsley, Hastings,
- Renowned musician Graham Clarke at the Warner Library
- Westchester Artists Networking Group exhibit in Somers
- Exhibit Opening: Don Axleroad in Yonkers
- Printing without a Press at Hudson River Museum
- South Church Attic Sale in Dobbs Ferry
- Harvest Fair Family Fun Day in New City
- Free Film in Irvington (part of new “Best of” Film Series...)
- Creative Connections: Printmaking in Yonkers
- Happy Rosh Hashanah to residents who are Jewish.

The town received some bad news from the county. Sales tax is down 13.4% compared to last year. We anticipate receiving 4.9 million in sales tax for 2009 compared to a budget of 5.6 million.

County of Westchester

Sales Tax due to Municipalities









1st Quarter - pd 5/1/09







2nd Quarter - pd 8/1/09








3rd Quarter - pd 11/1/09










4th Quarter - pd 2/1/10


The above amounts are pending the receipt of the quarterly reconciliation from NYS which arrives around October 20th.


hal samis said...

Perhaps the Library could hold a meeting teaching residents and Town Supervisors how to cut and paste.

Michael Kolesar said...

This is no surprise as the Town Board was alerted to this trend back in the first quarter. In addition, mortgage tax revenues will also be short by at least $1 million and again the town Board was told this in the same time frame. I know because I told them.

The really sad part of this is that the Town Board and the Chief Financial Officer (the Supervisor), in particular, have not taken any meaningful steps to bring expenses in line with revenues.

What does this mean? First, the Town was already going to use $5.3 million in fund balances. Now, it looks like the amount will be closer to or in excess of $ 7 million out of $28 million that was potentially there in the first place, a whopping 25% decline in one year. Wait till the 2010 budget is released at the end of October. The CFO (the Supervisor) will no doubt use more fund balance, really stripping the cupboard bare for the future, but he doesn't care about the future. It's just get me elected and keep my pay check, build up more retirement credits and keep my fully paid health care.

For the most part, the burden will fall on unincorporated Greenburgh. Sorry folks.

Anonymous said...

The Supervisor indicated that there will be cuts in all departments.

hal samis said...

This was no surprise to me either as I warned the Town Board last year at budget time about the adverse effects of the real estate meltdown which in its most simple version is that entities like the NYS Retirement Funds and other large institutions invest a good percent of their money in nice, safe havens like mortgages which were nicely wrapped up into the hot product of recent years, the CMBS (Commercial Mortgage Backed Security) which promised higher investment returns and were brought to you by those sound, names you can trust financial services concerns like Merrill, Lehman and Wachovia Bank.

Now that these investments have tanked, the Retirement Funds will be replenishing their fund balances by hitting on your fund balances when they seek even higher contributions from the municipalities they serve.

But just because times are tough, that's no reason not to spend over $50,000 on an arts council or renew a yet unannounced commitment to funding the Xposure program, or providing private golf lessons through the Parks Department (please don't even begin to argue that fees underwrite this).

In fact, you don't have to go far to see the parallel between Nero fiddling while Rome burned and right here on this blog; taxes are going up and the Town Supervisor spends his time telling us where to have fun each weekend.

Michael Kolesar said...

Without reductions in personnel and that translates into reduced levels of services, whatever meager cuts he and the Town Board come up won't get him to a single digit tax increase without the continued use of fund balances.

50% of the budget is compensation costs, (salaries, OT, part-timers / seasonals, etc., 20% is fringe benefits (before 2010's increase in retirement costs which Town wide will be about $1.8 million)(social security, medicare, retirement, health care, etc., 10% (approximately) is debt service (which is being artificially being held down by not keeping up with investments in infrastrucure) (repaving roads, replacing old sanitation vehicles, etc), and the remainder is what barring reductions in personnel, one can "play" with. How many pencils do you think you can save?

Telephone, electricity, garbage disposal fees, postage, etc, can't be significantly cut. They were addressed in the 2009 budget. You might get "lucky" on fuel costs, if the price of oil stays where it is and the average for 2009 might have been high, but who has a crystal ball? If there is excess in 2009, why wasn't it removed in the 2009 budget?

So Anonymous 1:41 PM, why don't you identify yourself and we'll see who is closer when the tentative budget comes out?

Plain and simple reality.

Anonymous said...

The Supervisor indicated that there will be cuts in all departments.

blah, blah, blah....yadda, yadda.....same thing he said in 2008 and that did NOT happen.

Anonymous said...

what the supervisor did do was send home a letter to each and every town employee telling them that overtime will not be approved unless Mr. Feiner himself approves of it. Now to my understanding under federal law, any hours worked over fourty in a 7 day work week should be compensated by overtime. Yet Mr. Feiner sends this letter out to bully his employees and to waste paper, ink, and a town employees time typing, printing, and stuffing paychecks with a letter that can totally have been avoided being distributed if Mr. Feiner had sent a memo to all of his department heads by email. All said and done the department heads delegate the work to the town employees.

solution to the fiscal mess said...

the tdycc must be closed
the nutrition programs that feed other towns must be stopped
some parks need to be sold
the millions illegally given to valhalla need to be recovered
the arts council position must be eliminated

feel free to add your ideas

ed krauss said...

Isn't it asad state of affairs when good ideas from nonelected bloggers evaporate well before implementation by elected officials because those officials run unopposed and are returned to office year after year by the "good, 'disregarded' nonelected blogger ideas.

It's masochism 101, we have met the enemy, continue to embrace him/her, and the enemy is US!!!!!!!

I wish you all a happy, healthy and better year( doubtful re Greenburgh taxes/mismanagement).

You don't have to "join'um," cause you can "beat'um," the ballot is in your court.

P.S. My wish extends to Jew and non Jew, friend and foe.

Anonymous said...

the house at afv park that has been vacant for the past year while being heated through the winter which will continue this year if nothing is done. This needs to go. The house is in poor shape.

Anonymous said...

Mike you spoke the truth and it got you fired.

We know dam well that we are heading for the worse yesrsw of our lives in Greenburgh.

The supervisor was told over and over again to cut services,this he did but the ones that he cut should have stayed and the ones that should have gone are still here..that being the two centers.

You did your best to save us money but He does not care.

Maybe if his parents lived in the unincorporated part of Greenburgh
things would be different.
His only interest is to keep the position until he retires.


This man has no heart. He only thinks of keeping

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

continuation from 11:44 his interest is keeping his job forever.

Fire Strikes Hartsdale village said...

A major fire broke out this afternoon in Hartsdale village, causing major damage to Bagels & Things, where the fire erupted. The empty Big Top suffered damage and Harry's filled up with smoke. Units from Greenville, Hartsdale, Scarsdale and Fairview responded, and the fire was under control a little more than an hour later. Greenburgh police were also on the scene. No one from the Town Board was present. It appears as if Hunan Village II and Trustco had little or no damage.

Anonymous said...

It was a religious holiday and the newly commissioned task force on fire district consolidation was meeting, while the actual departments came together and put out the fire. If only the fire blazing at Town Hall could be put out as quickly, but Nero (the Supervisor) continues to fiddle.

Anonymous said...

WTH is wrong with this LOOOOOOONG post. My eye! My eyes! Who could read this stuff without going blind.

PSA: Dear Supervisor, Please learn rudimentary typing skills.

Anonymous said...

Where do people get their information? The fire in the village did not result in a lot of damage - mostly smoke damage. It was an exhaust fire from the kitchen at Hunan Village and was contained almost immediately. Both the Bagel store & Hunan Village will reopen within a week pending fire system inspections and minor clean-up.

Anonymous said...

If what you say is true, this is the second time that has occurred from this restaurant. I hope the Fire Department is looking into the cause, researching the number of times this has occurred, as well as resolving the root cause once and for all before someone is hurt.

Anonymous said...

I would meekly suggest that the problem with the supervisor and taxes stems from his being shielded from the brunt of his own increases by the condo nature of his residential development. If he lived in a single-family home in Hartsdale where total taxes increase by $1,000 every year , he might take a different approach.

Anonymous said...

So the police department can not make any overtime without approval from the supervisor. I believe that when I see it.
How many people work in the Library on a Saturday night for the entire( and I mean entire) building to be lit up so brightly?
Does anybody besides myself just love how the tent by the front door of this $20 million mansion diverts the rain leakage. Does the Town have anyone that can fix this almost one year old problem?

Anonymous said...

I wish Kolesar was back. He would solve all of our problems or at leaast point them out. It's one thing to identify problems and another thing to resolve them. Its a wonderful thing to look in your rear view mirror and argue that you predicted this or that. It's another thing to point out that you were part of the 2009 budget process and dramatically missed the mark on sales tax, mortgage tax and interest income.But let's undersatand that the budget process happens much earlier (third quarter of previous year) than the predictions made in the first quarter of the following year. It's so much easier to predict the future when the future is here.

Michael Kolesar said...

To Anonymous 7:25PM,

I am confident in stating that I would not solve all of the problems of the Town of Greenburgh. There are far too many and some are far more complex than you likely know of. However, I would make the problems known to all, not keep them hidden as the current "open" government does and there are some huge issues facing the Town financially. Read the official statement very carefully. Read the Town's financial statements very carefully, especially the footnotes and the Water Fund

Yes, the 2009 budget did miss the mark on a number of items. However, Mr./ Ms Anonymous, where is your public record of predictions? 20/20 hindsight is the easiest thing in the world. If the town ever grants me my FOIL request from MARCH 27, 2009, I believe that I would be able to demonstrate areas where I provided the Supervisor and then the Board with forecasts in the areas that you cite that were lower (more conservative) than adopted. The budget is the Town Board's budget,(not the Town Comptroller's - this year Mr. Talamini) including the massive use of fund balances to mask the true ongoing cost of Town government.

As to the "accuracy" of some of my forecasts, I think I was in pretty good company, i.e. Secretary of the Treasury, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, state governments, cities, etc. Who got it "right" and even then got the scale of this correct. Very, very few.

Anonymous said...

Mike - I happened to watch the work session where you were warning the Town Board about shortfalls in mortgage taxes and sales taxes and overestimations of revenue. You were 100% correct and sadly they ignored you. I have one question that maybe you can answer. How did they manage to maintain the AAA Bond Rating and maybe you can explain what that means to us as taxpayers if it means anything at all. Thanks and sorry you chose not to run for Supervisor - I think you could have won.

Michael Kolesar said...

Standard and Poor's did, in my opinion, a weak due diligence on this offering. First, some of the numbers in their report appear incorrect. They failed to understand the magnitude of fund balance draw downs and thus what the potential could be for 2010 and beyond. The Town Board, beginning with the 2005 budget, started down a very dangerous path. Even Paul Feiner recognized it, but rather than being a leader, he went along. Mr. Talamini stated at a recent work session that at best the Town has at the outside two more budget cycles (including 2010) to "play" (my words)before there will be no more fund balances left. You can bet that there will be huge games this time around. (By the way, I put together a forecast back in May, sealed it in an envelope and gave it to Ella Preiser to hold until after the preliminary budget is released. At an appropriate time and place, we'll see how close I come, but right now from what I know, I'm looking real good.) Then the taxpayers will suffer from what I call a Thelma and Louise budget, where the taxes rates go up huge amounts, 30+% wouldn't surprise me for unincorporated Greeenburgh. Town wide or "A", the Town Board is already looking at maybe 150% this year without using fund balances.

Second, they (S&P) repeated the paragraph from the 2008 report which cited under financial management that the town had hired me. They apparently didn't even realize that there was a new Comptroller.

Third, about 95% of all upgrades to AAA are maintained for at least one year and I'll guess that in part it is because they don't want to look foolish for having raised the rating in the first place.

Finally, a AAA rating does in no way say the town is being run effectively or efficiently. All it says is that if you acquire the Town's bonds, because of the Town's ability to keep raising taxes, you will get the interest and principal repaid to you. That's a big, big difference between an efficient and effective operation (not the Town of Greenburgh) and one where there is sufficient underlying real estate values to make a bond holder comfortable.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mike.

Anyone owning property in TOV, outside of Edgemont, should get out while you can. There is nothing but financial disaster ahead.

Anonymous said...

Mike - thanks for explaining the process of the bond ratings. Again, I am so sad that you did not challenge Feiner this year - I hope you will continue to speak at TB meetings about the Town's fiscal management. Maybe you'll consider a run in 2 years - we need someone with a backbone and fiscal expertise - you're the guy to fill this need!

Anonymous said...

The new work session hours make it impossible for working, taxpaying residents to attend. So much for open government. I understand the hours were changed to suit Feiner's afternoon schedule. He has to leave to pick his daughter up from school. Does it not seem odd to anyone other than myself that he has the ability to shut out taxpayers so that he can have the luxury of these flex hours? This guy can afford to have a nanny or day care. What about the civil service employees who work for him? Some of them are raising families on salaries of $40,000 or less yet they have to rely on family, paid day care or nannies to pick their children up from school. Shouldn't they have the same entitlement as the Supervisor who earns 3 or more times more money? The work sessions should be held late afternoon or early evening so that taxpayers have the opporutnity to attend. We're paying his salary and he is shutting us out of the process. He knows the new hours exclude his biggest critics - those who know what to look for and what questions to ask at these sessions. Enough already. This guy is running our Town like Castro runs Cuba. There is no "open government" in Greenburgh. There is only "Feiner" government which is working to our benefit.

Anonymous said...

Correction to last sentence - "Feiner" government is NOT working to our benefit.

Anonymous said...

Right on 7:27 he should hire someone for his domestic chores.

When I had children in school I could not leave work to pick them up so I had to make special arrangements.

We still pay his salary for time spent in picking up his daughter every day and taking her to her next stop.

What's wrong with this picture.

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered how do the retirement benefits work for board members? For example, after this term Paul will have completed 20 years service. Has he maxed out his pension, or does it keep going up the longer he serves? When does it kick in (at 65 or upon leaving office)? And will we be paying for his family's healthcare until his death as part of the package? What about for other board members?

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone would be complaining about these postings if the Supervisor also did the job he is being paid to do. These postings in addition to things like fire district consolidations, working with that sleezeball Sam Swirka (not sure of spelling) against county officials, etc. are all methods of distracting us from the real issues that affect us - town tax increases, poor services, lack of infrastructure maintenance, spending down of our reserve funds, etc. Also of nonsense is the 80th Best Place to live PR - the Town paid for this designation. A recent study showed that Westchester Property taxes are the highest in the country. AAA Bond Rating - read Mike Kollesars comments on another area of this blog - S&P still reports that Kollesar is comptroller and this AAA rating only means that the Town has ability to keep raising our taxes to keep up with the bonds. Mr. Feiner is a PR man, not a fiscal manager and certainly not a leader. If you don't believe these facts just wait to see where we are financially a year from now.

Michael Kolesar said...

To Anonymous 9/24/2009 9:31 AM:

I am not sure about the exact calculation of retirement benefits, but in addition to Mr. Feiner's tenure as Supervisor, he probably had time in the state retirement system as a County Legislator.

With respect to "post employment health benefits", all employees who work for the Town at least 10 years and "retire" from the Town receive fully paid health benefits for life. So for example, Eddie Mae Barnes and Timmy Weinberg are currently receiving this benefit along with many others. Mr. Feiner and Ms. Juettner have passed the 10 year mark. The present "value" of this benefit is out of sight. For a male who retires at say age 45, he has a present life expectancy of about 30 years. The present annual cost of family coverage is about $16,000. Add in future reasonable increases in the cost of premiums over those 30 years (take your pick, 5%, 7%, etc. per year) and one can estimate the value. Given that the Town has not set aside any funds to address this, I will tell you, the value for this example is well in excess of $500,000. And it's all tax free. How much would you have to set aside to net this?

If you read the Town's annual report (CAFR), you will see that the current actuarial calculation for this benefit is about $116 million. That's what the taxpayers would have to pony up right now and it will only grow.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't Medicare kick in at age 65 at which time the Town's responsibility is to provide supplemental insurance, not primary?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Feiner is now touting the idea that "surplus" land owned by "school districts" should be acquired and used as sites for "affordable" housing for teachers, firemen, cops and a variety of others.
Once again, Feiner is shooting from the lip.
Think about it - we all HATE the idea that our health care insurance is linked to our jobs and not in the slightest way portable. Quit (or get fired) from your job and you're uninsured. Bad idea, bad system, right?
So, the Genius of Hillside Avenue now wants to tie your housing to your job. Probably the worst idea he's ever had. If he can convince other idiots to go along, can you imagine what would happen to us if we got fired or quit? Not only uninsured but homeless too!
But then what would you expect from a poor little rich boy with a trust fund and guaranteed lifetime healthcare?
Time to let him collect his accrued benefits before he can do any more damage.

Michael Kolesar said...

To Anonymous 9/24 11:46 AM,

While you are correct that at age 65, the Town's "cost" to provide health coverage is mitigated by Medicare, it is not signifcant, especially if the retiree has one or more dependents under the age of 65. Depending upon the number of dependents, the "savings" may be as little as $250 per month or $3,000 per year. I factored that into my calculations. Of course an actuary would look at the average number of likely dependents and their ages, etc, but for an approximation, I'll stay with my estimate as reasonable. Would it matter if the amount were $450,000 or $550,000 instead of $500,000? I think not.

hal samis said...

Dear 2:50,

And do you remember?

"you load 16 tons and what do you get,
another day older and deeper in debt,
Saint Peter don't you call me cuz'I can't come
I owe my soul to the company store"

And if you were employed by your landlord what's to prevent: "they'll be no raises and you have to work longer hoursfor the same hours. If you don't like it, you can always move."

"So pack up your sorrows..."

Isn't it amazing that the Supervisor has so much time to solve the problems of the County, the State, School Districts and Fire Districts while, apparently where he works, Greenburgh, there are no problems.

ed krauss said...

I know this topic was posted on 9/18/09, before Rosh Hashannah, but I didn't read it till now. So, although the Supervisor wished a happy rosh Hashannah to the residents who are Jewish, I would like to wish all, irrespective of religon or no religon at all a Happy Rosh Hashannah past because it's the ecumenical thing o do.

Additionally, i would like to wish all who are fasting for Yom Kippur an easy, headache-free fast.

Ignorance is bliss said...

Paul's Fire District consolidation committee has its first big decision to make tomorrow. Do they include a study of the Fire Protection Districts or don't they. My guess is that Feiner has already ordered Hochberg not to. Feiner does not want the taxpayers to know that the citizens of the Fire Protection Districts are funding the Villages!!! Yes, that's right, their tax dollars are being gobbled up by the Villages and NOT for their fire protection! State Law dictates that only up to 35% of the contract amount can be given over to the Village Fire Departments for Fire Protection. Remember those words "up to." That means that by LAW, a MINIMUM of 65 cents of every dollar that the citizens of the Fire Protection Districts pay out in taxes remains with the Villages!!!!! Shhhhhhhh! Feiner does not want that info out there for public consumption. Feiner is raping the Fire Protection Districts in order to fund the Villages!!!! Is this why several of the Fire Protection Districts are run at a defecit Paul???????

Anonymous said...

consolidate all of greenburgh

Anonymous said...

Consolidate Greenburgh with the county ..This will be our salvation and one way to get rid of Feiner and three members of the board plus our very lawless lawyer.