Thursday, November 26, 2009


Demolition of the beautiful Central Sq cafe (which has been vacant for a number of months) will pave the way for a new Walgreen's store on Central Ave/Ardsley Road. I have mixed feelings. I think the old Central Sq cafe was one of the most attractive looking buildings on Central Ave and feel bad that it is being demolished. On the other hand, it's nice to see some activity on Central Ave. This new store plus the new Shop Rite- which was approved for Midway Shopping Center last week-- will generate taxes for our town. It's good news, in this poor economy, to see new businesses opening. Walgreen's should be open during 2010. Shop Rite will also be open in 2010.
Let's hope that 2010 will be a good year for the Greenburgh economy.


hal samis said...

(oh look Paul, you left the backdoor unlocked)

Today is Thanksgiving.
Since I am well-known for all my gracious, upbeat, pollyanna like, compliments to members of the town government and those on its volunteer boards, please do not take this as just another day in the life posting from one who sees the glass as always half full.
A significant event happend this week and it should be viewed as a milestone one. No, I am not discussing the identity changes on this blog which may be a good thing until the anonymous poseurs catch on that Feiner is not going to dispatch the SWAT team to their home if they write nasty things about people who attack his leadership and his enablers (just 3votes).
I am addressing the recent events spearheaded by Mike Kolesar (former Town Comptroller and private citizen from Ardsley) who first unearthed the issue and Bob Bernstein and Michelle McNally (of the Edgemont Community Council) who upended it, popularized it, published it and forced the conversion of news into positive action.
Obviously I am referring to the shameless and audacious response evidenced by the Feiner administration's attempt to turn water into wine at the expense of the town's taxpayer "water bill". Clearly there was little effort to rigorously contact those owed money. Clearly the worst perception of civil service mentality was at play in the performance of the Tax Receiver's Department which was basking in the response that it had performed the minimal effort while not being alarmed at the resulting minimal response. ($2.5 million in overpayments still unclaimed)

[Sidebar: $2.7 million in uncollected Parking fines, $40,000 in uncollected Library fines, $? owed from the Housing Authority, financial irregularities at the Courts, anyone else see a pattern?]
I'm not talking about a list composed solely of isolated, hermits (living disbursed in tents somewhere in uncharted Taxter Preserve) who are not known to Town Hall but about a list which also includes easily recognizable names, many of whom would otherwise be known as pillars of support for the Town Supervisor. I'm talking about a list of hard working residents who are struggling to keep up with the rising taxes and can neither afford to nor desire to pay these increasing taxes -- twice.
Mistakes happen. Manure happens. But when the Town is aware of the problem, reasonable persons agree that the Town should move into high gear to see that the oversight has been corrected, not sit back with fingers crossed hoping that those who overpaid will never get wise to their status. At the very least, the Town, being aware of the situation, could in most cases have easily credited the overpayment against future tax bills as most of the owners still reside in Greenburgh and still own the subject property.
That is not the course of action that the Town took. Instead, in typical Feiner fashion, he saw it an an opportunity to profit (re-election-wise) from the misfortune of his constituents and to use their loss to his gain.
How? Faced with presenting a continuing and increasing tax bill to voters, he sought ways to hide bad news by resorting to tricks, enabled by a cooperating Comptroller, Receiver of Taxes and Town Attorney (yes a conspiracy but how else could this happen without collusion). In the past, Feiner (the Town CFO) has mercilessly raided the Town Fund Balances...

(these built up by earlier unnecessary charges to taxpayers -- their annual tax bills in years past included overpayments -- higher taxes than needed to support operations -- which created "cushions" for existing cushions; all charged to taxpayers year after year without apology)

hal samis said...

....which had once upon a time reached unconscionable levels as part of the plan to use taxpayers' wallets to purchase the fabled AAA rating. Today Feiner acknowledges that it would be committing folly to use (openly) more of the depleted Fund Balances (having already ignored Town Code stating Fund Balances are not to be used for operating expenses) so he had to scramble to create phony revenue projections to balance the rising expenses. (note: the Supervisor was warned two years ago by the public that with a impending financial meltdown that mortgage and sales tax revenues would decline and that NYS pension funds would be hit by bad investments...again the civil service mentality "why rock the boat" which discourages independent thinking, was content to do nothing until official notice that these things would happen, have happened. There is a six month to a year lag between when things happen and they officially happen. Feiner, choosing to ignore what he read in the media continued spending at the Town's bloated levels until he received the "notice".
And, of course, surplus land sales which if the property is not sold can be booked as revenue every year the same property is offered for sale. Never mind that you don't actually receive the money; never mind that the Town won't receive all of the sale price were it to be sold. But hey, in the logic unique to Greenburgh: if you couldn't afford to pay $250 for a seat to "The Producers" on Broadway, Feiner has imported it to a hamlet, school district or village near you -- for free (higher taxes notwithstanding).
So, according to agreement reached among Feiner, the Town Bored, the Receiver of Taxes, the Town Comptroller and the Town Attorney, it is not only proper and moral not to exhaust all means to inform those taken advantage of; it is also reasonable to both "borrow" this money and claim it as revenue. After all, the more revenue that can be imagined, the lower will be the tax increase announced to the public. And it doesn't really matter if the house is built on a weak foundation, once the Budget is passed and moves off the front page of Town chatter, later on in 2010 the Fund Balance dipping will resume with a vengeance and no one will be the wiser until a year from now at 2011Budget review.
Which brings me back to the introduction. Thanks from me to Mike and Bob and Michelle. Your efforts (including the ECC's posting of the names, even if the list is not the alternative to the NY Times list of the most needy, is a remarkable display of public service for the good of the people.
But there is a story behind the story that may even be more telling. Despite Feiner's continuing effort to marginalize the citizens of Greenburgh entire and come out on top by their fear of or distrust of each other, this joining together of the two classic distrusting publics, Mike, a villager, and Bob & Michelle of the villified ECC, this represents the beginnings of "the farmer and the cowman can be friends" era in Greenburgh. In other words, a time of healing following Finneran finessing When viewed in the context of other recent events (i.e. the Waterwheel property, the Stop N Shop hearings, the Fulton Park fiasco, etc.) and the forthcoming Fortress Bible ruling,
Greenburghers have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, even though they may choke over their tax bill. Assuredly, Feiner is on his last legs of his last lap in office.
Residents do have a lot to be grateful for afterall. I've written this to remind them to include Mike, Bob and Michelle on their Thanksgiving list.
And for those appearing on the list, now you know who your friends aren't.

Written yesterday but blocked before the plane left.

hal samis said...

Now here's a trick learned from the fascists of yesteryear.

Note that at the end of my posts (which are here only because I have learned how to get around the system) there appears a little symbol which might be interpretated as a trash basket.
It applies to all my posts since the blog was reshaped to conform to imperatives fostered by Herb Rosenberg. So far it is only my posts that are being "watched" and the trash basket is probably the notational means to isolate "troublemakers" from the less threatening "troublesome".

Mr. Feiner and Mr. Rosenberg both being Jewish (as am I) probably settled on the trash basket in lieu of a yellow star.

Michael Kolesar said...

Happy Holidays To All and especially those of you who have already or will soon find out that the Town owes you a refund for the duplicate payment of some of your property taxes.

The Edgemont Community Council has posted a PDF file of the overpayments for the period 1/1/2004 through 11/23/2009 in the amount of approximately $ 1,979,000. In addition to that there is another PDF file which contains the overpayemnts from 1/1/1989 through 12/31/2003 in the amount of approximately $ 836,000. So between these two, the Town has approximately $ 2,815,000 of taxapyers' money. If your name or property is on the list, when you get your refund just consider it the Greenburgh 2009 economic stimulus package (even though it was your money to begin with, we must put a political spin on everything).

If you need any help searching the data, please feel free to contact me.

taxpayer said...

Mike: It would have been nice if you had advised taxpayers who were overcharged that they could have been reimbursed for overcharges when you were comptroller. How come you kept quiet during the year you were in government and in a position to do something?
Your inactions, especially if you were aware of this, are inexcusable.

Michael Kolesar said...

Dear Taxpayer:

Somehow I missed your name.

Myndi said...

Why can't I see the special symbol at the end od Hal Samis' posts?
I feel discriminated against!

taxpayer said...

Dear Hal & Mike:
Playing gotcha is not good government.

taxpayer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hal samis said...

Dear taxpayer,

Speaking only for myself, I spend no money belonging to taxpayers; I change no zoning laws; I do not solicit or accept contributions that I shouldn't; I don't write "tough" Ethics laws that even without any clout are now being weakened because there is a possibility the tough laws may be applied; I don't create citizen boards which are on tap to opine as instructed; I don't spend $400,000 on a Comprehensive Plan only to subvert it at the earliest opportunity; I don't create fictious revenue streams to balance bloated expenses; I don't pretend that I can't locate residents who have overpaid their property taxes; I don't spend Town revenues on programs providing a very limited return to the smallest segments of the population; I don't preside over a three year tax increase that will rise to 40% after the 2010 figures are "adjusted, I don't...

What I do is play the tried and true American game of "gotcha" which is all an informed resident can do seated in the cheap seats. Of course, were there none of the above, then the home team would have no gotchas to dodge. Since the government gets paid for its effort, what exactly is it that bothers you when gotchas are revealed? And don't overlook what a "gotcha" is: it is the game of catching another party in a mistake. Seems simple enough to prevent. Stop making mistakes.

Luckily more and more residents are beginning to realize that the Greenburgh government is a bottomless source of raw material to fashion into a gotcha.

Do things right the first time and there need be no choruses of "Why is everybody always picking on me?"

And since the Town Board claims to have spent the year hiking all over Greenburgh to learn first hand from residents what their concerns are, wouldn't it have been the honorable thing to do were the Feiner team to have delivered a few refund checks along the way?

If it makes your day, consider that yet another gotcha.

And if you go to the ECC's website to see their posting of who overpaid, ask why the Town couldn't have done the same on its website. They way I read the list, each name appearing is by itself, another gotcha.

Michael Kolesar said...

Dear Taxpayer:

I am more than willing to engage in a civil discourse about various actions or as you may indicate “inactions”. However, why are you afraid to use your name? I can guess why and it’s because when you do and if you are not perceived as being correct, you lose whatever credibility you have. Now if you are an elected official, that would really damage you.

As to your “specifics”, the office of the Receiver of Taxes is the administrative arm that handles this. If you listened to David Dwinell on Monday night he described what he has done in the past. Based upon the community’s reactions, it wasn’t enough. The line in the 2010 budget of “Unclaimed Funds” in the amount of some $ 836,000 didn’t just magically appear. From what we hear, the Town Attorney had been reviewing this for quite some time.

The better approach for the Town Board would have been to publicize what they were thinking about, post the information of the Town web site and say that in 2011 the Town will start “taking” these funds back (after giving the public a year to take action), if that is indeed the policy decision of the Town Board. Instead, the Town Board showed a remarkable insensitivity.

I doubt that many in the public would “place the blame” on the Town Comptroller. I think you are one of a very small minority, a nameless minority at that. Can’t stand the heat, so you won’t reveal your name. Not particularly courageous.

taxpayer said...

Mr. Kolesar: You were the comptroller of the Town of Greenburgh for one year.
You knew of the accounts existence.
You knew that funds had accumulated in this account for many years.
If you were of the opinion that the town should have been more aggressive in notifying people who are owed money of the account you should have said something.
You didn't.
If you want to play gotcha with the town the town could play gotcha with you. Everyone is somewhat at fault including you.

Murghk said...

The greatest blame lies with an apathetic group of eligible voters who do not exert their energy to throw the bums out of office.
As a great American (and property owner in Greenburgh before it was the 80th Best Place to Live, Mark Twain) once said, "We get exactly the Government we deserve."
Do I hear a motion to replace our Town politicians with professional management?

Michael Kolesar said...

The Supervisor posted the following on the Ardsley chat room.

"The town will be posting an official list on the town website: next week. We will update the list annually. If you e mail me the info I will confer with David Dwinell, Receiver of Taxes and we will get back to you and advise if your name is on the list and what documentation you need to provide the Receiver with to get the refund. My e mail is

These duplicate payment lists exist in every town/city in the state. I will also be reaching out to other localities in the county to determine what actions they take to notify taxpayers of the list. PAUL FEINER
914 993 1545 or cell: 438 1343 if you'd like to discuss

To which I replied:

Let us all take a close look at the Supervisor's post. First, "The Town will post an official list on the Town's web site next week." Why was the ECC (Edgemont Community Council) able to do it in a day or so. The listings published by the ECC came from documents furnished by the Town after a FOIL request was made. Aren't these documents "official"? In what "format" will the Town be posting this list? Will the town's web master be creating a specific page so that taxpayers, both commercial and residential alike, may easily search, like the State of New York has for Unclaimed Property?

Second, the Supervisor writes "We will update the list annually." Why only annually? The Town makes at least three major collections of taxes each year. In a calendar year that would be January for the second half school taxes, in April for Town and county taxes and then in September for the first half of the following year's school taxes. Duplicate payments occur on any one of these. Why isn't the list going to be maintained currently? Remember taxpayers, per the auditors, this account should be ZERO, not an account with $2.8 million in it.

Finally, the Supervisor "will reach out to other localities..." For the 80th best place to live, if you believe the hype ( and I write hype, because some of the information used to determine the ranking was incorrect, like the total sales taxes, which if the correct rate had been used, would have, in my view, dropped Greenburgh off the list), the Town should be showing leadership, not "followship". How about "thinking outside you box" for change. This is just another example of poor internal controls in the Town that have been and will continue to cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Lastly, why not take the funding from the Arts Council for 2010 and put it into the Receiver of Taxes operations for one year to get this mess cleaned up once and for all.

Michael Kolesar said...

Is "Taxpayer" really Paul feiner hiding? The following item was posted on the Ardsley chat room. Notice the similarity to the posting from "Taxpayer" 11/27/09 132 PM.

"Mike: You were comptroller for one year. You were aware of the duplicate payment of town taxes account. In fact, you prepared a budget with a line item for the account. If you were so concerned about duplicate payments why didn't you speak up and express yourself during your tenure as Comptroller? This account exists throughout the state - in every town across NY.

The Town Board will post names of those who may be owed taxes on our website and we will update the site on a timely basis as soon as we receive the info."

My response, unfortunately some of it is in blod and underlined for added emphasis and I don't know how to create the same presentation on this blog.

The duplicate payments are a function of and activity with the Receiver of Taxes, not the Town Comptroller's office. The management response to the auditor's letter indicated that the Town would not take this into income. You have been the Chief Financial Officer for 18 years and you have been receiving these comments since at least 2001. Why didn't you do anything? Anything.

Which budget did I prepare that had a line item for the account. Show all of us. It's not there. YOU LIE.

Paul, you have a real problem accepting responsibility. Maybe through these exchanges more and more residents are going to start to learn the real truth.

I raised numerous issues and concerns about internal controls. What did you do? NOTHING !

Why won't the Town release the entire un redacted (except for a minor item) contents of my March 24, 2009 memo to the Town Board to the public? Why is the Town still not releasing any, not one single document that I FOILed for on March 27, 2009?

Let's let it all hang out, Paul. How about an open meeting in Town Hall , televised to go through the March 24th memo's contents? I think you might get a standing room only audience.

Fed Up With Feiner said...

This would have been the year to get them out of office...unfortunately no one challenged them. I've been a life long democrat but I would have voted for a republican just to make this important change. Feiner, Sheehan and Juettner have been in office way toooooo long!