Wednesday, December 09, 2009


The Greenburgh Town Board will be taking some action steps tonight to reduce the workforce. We will be voting on a resolution offering a targeted $15,000 cash retirement incentive to current full time town employees who retire from the town within 60 days provided that the retiring employee’s full time position within his/her department will not be replaced within the department. We will also be accepting a grant in the amount of $24,500 from NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to perform a municipal energy conservation study for the town of Greenburgh. To generate additional revenue for the town, the Town Board will be voting on a resolution next week that would amend NYS law to permit towns and villages to impose a hotel room ‘occupancy tax’ on hotels receiving rental income from the rental of hotel rooms within the town, similar to the Hotel room Occupancy tax authorized b y NYS law for counties and cities. This could produce significant revenue for the town (probably six figures) and help reduce tax increases in the future.
The Board will be promoting Chris McNerney to Captain, Thomas Maguire to Lieutenant and Nick Reckson to Sergeant. Nick’s father Abe (who is currently retired) served as Sergeant over a dozen years ago! The Board will be holding a public hearing to consider an agreement between the town of Greenburgh & Ardsley to provide fire protection services to unincorporated area residents of south Ardsley and Chauncey Fire Protection districts for the year 2009. A vote is expected next week. I have been receiving calls from residents who expressed concern that the town would be contracting with a PAID fire district to replace the all volunteer Ardsley fire district. These calls are based on inaccurate rumors. Why would the town unnecessarily increase taxes by replacing an all volunteer fire dept with a paid dept? This would be ridiculous.
The Ardsley fire dept does a fantastic job of providing service to some residents of unincorporated Greenburgh. The volunteers are very dedicated and service is outstanding.
We will hold our 2nd budget hearing tonight at 7:30 PM. We expect the budget (to be modified after the hearing) to be approved sometime next week


hal samis said...

Let's see. Suppose I was a Town employee and I got laid off even though the 2010 Budget doesn't indicate that is going to happen.
Meanwhile I'm still earning what I am (is there anyone earning less than $25,000 full-time in the Town?) and getting my health insurance paid and building toward my retirement.

Uh oh. My Supervisor has it in for me and he says Hal you're going to have go. You're terminated because "to be honest, we've got to look out for those residents who can't afford higher taxes".

Given what I likely earn as a Town employee, I won't get less than $325 a week (currently for up to a year) or $16,900 from NYS unemployment insurance. But bye bye to my health insurance.

So, do I take $15,000 as a buyout and give up the extra $1900 from unemployment insurance if I were laid off or do I hang in there and collect my salary plus health care and ever increasing retirement benefits?

Maybe I can get one of those part-time jobs with the Town, say like the Arts Council lady (Sarah Bracey White) who earns %52,400 part-time just hanging pictures in Town Hall plus extra reimbursement ($1200)for her gasoline used driving to and from work or maybe I can be like Kevin Morgan and Butch Nana and get paid twice (pensions) while working for the Town or maybe I can get one of those jobs like Town Clerk Judith Beville and get an extra $8000 (stipends) for doing the same job but splitting it over different line items.

Now that's what I call a good deal, not this measly $15,000 "promotion" to snag a story in The Journal News.

Names are used to protect innocent taxpayers.

hal samis said...

Sent to Town Board as written comments on the Budget.

Last night on the way to the vending machines (which apparently no longer, per the budget, produce any vending revenue to the Town presumably because of a "subsidized" cost to employees seeking nourishment) via the hallways which the Town creatively calls a "gallery", I noticed that several of the smaller "for sale" pictures are marked as "sold" presumably at or near the asking prices of $150 and up.

Since the Town wide budget pays Sarah Bracey White, the sole "staff" of the Council on the Arts, a princely sum for her PART-TIME efforts (AND an extra $1200 for her "travel" to and from work) to select and hang these pictures, I am curious as to what amount of these sale proceeds is the Town's "cut"?

Traditionally galleries earn between 25 to 40% of the sales price.

But be assured that there is no way with exactitude that the Town can ascertain or not whether the head of The Council on the Arts benefits financially from any sales. And were the Town to demand a piece of the action, I am sure that as a result, the "sold" signs would disappear forever -- even though sales might well continue.

This would argue that exhibitors instead be charged a flat fee based upon a combination of number of articles and asking price.

The point is that there is no justification to pay a middle-(wo)man taxpayer's dollars to hang artwork throughout Town Hall, the TDYCC and the multipurpose center at Veteran Park. Artists wishing to exhibit their "for sale" works should be paying the Town for this right; in lieu of that there is no justification to taxpayers to pay out their hard-earned money for the enrichment of these artists and their enablers.

Separately, if villagers are allowed to use the multipurpose center at Veteran Park (run by the Parks Department), why not the swimming pool? If they are not allowed to use the multipurpose center, then why is the Council on the Arts in the A Budget hanging pictures there that the villagers are not allowed to see?

There are alternate sources of contemporary art for public display and the Town need look no further than the talented children of Greenburgh's schools. Or visit the newly expanded $20 million+ Greenburgh Public Library.

As for the Council on the Arts contributions to the field of poetry, if the Town Board cannot find satisfaction that this "universal" need isn't sustained by the School System, after school programs, the TDYCC less Ms. White, or the Greenburgh Public Library, then it can instead give Ms. White, say $5000, for the singular purpose of running a poetry competition. This would save taxpayers $48,000+ (after the $5000) which is a meaningful amount derived from eliminating just one non-essential item. Other postings will advise on additional savings that can be achieved from the elimination of non-essential spending.

hal samis said...

The point being that Greenburgh need not be without "Culture" and invaded by the "Philistines" were the Town Board not to renew the annual contract of this independent contractor who is retained solely for "political purposes": to garner votes from the Town's Afro-American community. No one is suggesting that artists of any color should be denied access to the walls of Town Hall or to read their compositions -- only that taxpayers should not have to pay a third party to allow it. Week after week the Town Supervisor promotes by Town email and his blog all the interesting, fun and cultural events going on in Greenburgh not due to Ms. White; the magnitude of these alone suggests that there is no need in harsh economic times for hard-pressed taxpayers to spend additional sums on the Arts by proviso of the Town government. Last time I looked at the calendar and the GPS, neither suggested that we had been transported back in time to the seventeenth century Italian Renaissance when wealthy rulers of the city/states supported the arts. Nor are we living in the 1930's in the United States when the National Recovery Act promoted the arts and gave employment to artisans. Instead we are living in the Greenburgh of 2009 which has just "celebrated" a two year 31% tax increase and looks forward to an additional 7% or higher increase for 2010.

There need be no sense of obligation to a woman who is neither a Greenburgh resident nor supplies similar services at similar cost in her hometown, Ossining.

And, in an a seven year period, the payment to this outside vendor, Ms. White, for personal services has only increased to its current high water mark, not decreased as the Town Supervisor shouts out to confuse. In addition to her fee, she collects other financial goodies such as mileage which means that the Town is disguising the amount of her true compensation in that no other Town employee (not on 24/7 call) receives compensation or additional sums merely to get to their workplace.

This is the first such line on the ground. Is the Town Board serious about reducing the burden on taxpayer backs?

klondike bar said...

the case has been made over and over that the arts council is not needed especially in this budget year. other towns that have "art councils" run them as 501(c)(3)s so if you want to have an arts council, you reach into your pocket and support it.

the villages get no material benefit from this frill and thus it does not belong in the A budget.

the fact that the town does not even take a customary gallery cut has been pointed out repeatedly to deaf ears.

unfortunately we have a town board that is immune from the electorate and that only gives lip service to fiscal responsibility.

the real fault is the apathetic and indifferent public at large that lets this farce of government by press release continue.

it will only stop if edgemont incorporates and then the rest of the TOV will be asking... who lost edgemont as their services are slashed or their taxes go even higher.

hal samis said...

Almost single-handed, I am trying to make this blog an interesting place for the exchange of information.

Sent to the Library etc.

I am concerned that the Library positions itself as a co-sponsor of this event and that, in so doing, it has exempted the "project" from paying a rental fee for use of the Library's meeting room; a Policy Resolution drafted earlier this year for the purpose of clarifying its room rental policy with the idea of creating revenue.

Such revenue was presumed to be used to offset the cost of a newly created staff position:
program coordinator, a part-time enterprise at a $28,000 annual cost.

I am concerned that according to meeting minutes through November, no mention of this event appeared.

I am further concerned that the Library has undertaken no background check into who, the group or now "co-sponsor" of the event with our Library, is other than to have presumably verified for itself that the organization is a non-profit. Non-profit, notwithstanding, is not by itself a reason to be using the Library meeting room for free; ergo the building owned by the residents of unincorporated Greenburgh, not by the esteemed members of the Library Board of Trustees beyond their individual residence in Greenburgh.

I assure you that this email is not random nor capriciously composed or sent for the sole purpose of causing embarrassment. This particular organization gives all the external signs of being a registered agent of a foreign government (be it either North or South Korea, take your pick) whose sole purpose is to portray their country in a favorable light through staging various and subtle public relations events toward realizing that end.

Does the Library even know which Korea is being represented or has it merely assumed a friendly if that at all?

That the Library (and presumably their new part-time Program Coordinator) have not considered the possibility that such endeavors may be contrary to the interests of the United States or at the very least of questionable background and/or intent is my concern. There are a number of "red" flags being raised; flags which should have sent the Library scurrying for a copy of what I presume to be a 501c3's (although it could be anything, especially if it is an overseas entity) annual report as filed with the NY Department of State. Of particular interest would be its purpose, ownership and primary sources of funding.

hal samis said...

Could this organization be of controversial nature? Who knows. Is hosting an organization of controversial nature something the Library should avoid? Who knows. However, there are numerous organizations which enjoy non profit status that I am sure that the Library would reject without a second thought. For example: the American Nazi Party, the Ku Klux Klan, the Cultural Attache of the Government of Iran, various right-to-life organizations and various pro-abortion give you an idea.

During a time when the Library is fostering a Library Advocacy program in advance of a Spring fundraising event being sponsored by the Library Foundation, I think that it behooves the Library not to enter into activities that people such as myself would question. Whereas you have low regard for people such as myself and in particular myself, that does not sanction hosting anyone that rings your doorbell. I'm not implying that anyone at the Library acted maliciously or with caprice; rather that an assumption was made that all non profits are good. Nor am I equating this Korean group with those mentioned above. All I am doing is bringing to the Library's attention that before any group representing foreign nationals is given the keys to the building; the Library should consider whether the "applicant" has other things on its mind beyond promoting its art and cuisine.

The Library needs to establish some internal and INDEPENDENT standards to evaluate those who want to make use its resources or its business. And following the premise that other libraries have hosted or used or recommended someone or something is not, by my measure, an independent assessment. What you get as a result is the blind following the blind.

I hope that if the Taliban requested to use the meeting room and promised to supply free samplings of Afghan food, that the Library would go beyond determining its non profit status.

I don't think the average resident would be comfortable with their Library throwing open its arms in welcome.

Of course, if the Library has no need for additional funding or doesn't want to become an independent library district, it need not follow any of my suggestions

See the Korean Cultural Event at the Greenburgh Library this Saturday, 2:00. FREE refreshments

hal samis said...

cat got your anonymous tongue?

Try this on for size.
Sent to the usual suspects.

Since I don't flatter myself that those I write to remember, or even read, my every word, let me remind you (who are still reading) that I earlier this year "suggested" to the Library that they do something about the excess back office space that the expansion project's poor design yielded. As it cannot be used for the benefit of the patron public by any stretch of the imagination due to where the bits and pieces are located, taxpayers have paid for a "vast wasteland" Greenburgh style.

And even after my forthcoming proposal, there will remain large tracts of space that will never be reclaimed for function. In the Bauhaus school of design where form and function lay entwined, this apparently is territory that Beatty Harvey (the Library's choice of Architects) never explored when foisting their circa 1950s futuristic design upon Greenburgh. Our Library of tomorrow really is mired with the same flotsam that produced fins on car rear ends.

In any case, I challenged the Library to find a tenant for its excess space, even a congenial one that both might benefit from some blend of synergy. Needless to say the Library won't even acknowledge that it has excess space as everyone is territorial and likes their feifdoms huge. And I said at the time that if they didn't take me up on finding someone, I would suggest (suggest is a word I need to use so that Mr. Musantry won't get in a frenzy) a tenant that should snap up the opportunity while at the same time fit cozily with the Library's need to stand for something meaningful in the rapidly evolving world of Kindle readers.

But first let me describe the space. On the lower level opposite the circulation desk is the computer training room. Beyond that is an office area which mostly handles the Library's computer technology office and internet dispatch. Preserve these at all costs.

However on the same side and to the end of the building is a long stretch of square footage which is divided into some business offices, the Library Director's office and after that an employee "break" area. On the other side, of the bisecting hallway lined with lockers, is from the front, the multipurpose room which should remain. However beyond that is a conference room for staff meetings (so defined by its out of the way location and reached by passing through an outer doorway which says staff only) and beyond that is an open storage area abutting the outer loading dock. Also at the end of the building is an employee-only door to the outside. It is in all these areas that my mystery tenant can unpack their suitcases.

hal samis said...

But where will the current occupants go? The lowest cost option is akin to musical chairs but plays out as moving the Library Director upstairs to take over the office now occupied by the Assistant Library Director. This has other benefits in that for the first time the Library Director will be visible to patrons/taxpayers and this vista should reassure the public that she actually works at the Library full time. The Assistant Library Director will scoot around the corner to share the Reference Office which is half full or empty according to your bias.
Actually, in flush times I am even amenable to building the Library Director a glass-walled office on the upper level opposite the elevator so that not only could she be seen but would have an almost 360 degree view of the Library (looking down at the front entrance, the circulation desk, and from within her glass walls the stacks, reference desk, the childrens room and even the outdoor childrens garden.

The business office would move intact to occupy the wilderness zone which is currently home to the circulation toilers but there is no way that the Library can't find space here to accept a few refugees. As for the employee break area, the future cafe will yield tables for lunch and looking about my office suite I must need a new eyeglass prescription because I don't see a break room while many is the day when I have lunch at my desk.

But who's the tenant you ask?

Sit down, take a deep breath and bring you ear close to the screen while I whisper:

Yes, since this is the after school program that grows on you as it most certainly has on the Town Board which is even adding a few dollars to the program in 2010 but not that a resident would know unless they did a forensic examination of the Budget. It "looks" like the Town is now only paying for the staff and the Lanza's (their Greenburgh letterhead should read "Lanzas god bless 'em") are picking up the rest. Since the Town is only paying staff salaries, they should have little concern where the program is housed and who could resist the idea of an after school program run out of a library. After all, don't they share the same goals and same needs? Xposure which would love to have a librarian doing time at the TDYCC already looks forward to a long and closer relationship with the Library (even giving the Library a $100 piece of their ice cream profits) could be closer than Ray Thomas ever envisioned. And picture the Greenburgh Library on his website, an award winning building coupled with an award winning program...Share the love.

hal samis said...

It might even be a breakthrough marriage made at ground zero of win-win land. The children from all over Greenburgh who are missing out on the benefits of open-to-all Xposure just because it is located in the TDYCC (let's be honest) probably wouldn't object to the Library as a more central location; especially with all the public transportation that the older kids could use. Why the Library even has its own handicapped skateboard ramp. And for old school habituees, the Xposure program already provides bus service from Central 7 which is a simple hop skip and a jump to the Library instead of the TDYCC. For the TDYCC, it would be able to reclaim the Xposure space and use it for more programs of interest to the entire community.

But what's in it for the Library?
Higher circulation. With all that ingrown affability for dvds, books on stock market investing, dvds, dvds, and cds, the Library will be bragging about what a popular place it has become and requesting more money for staffing to service these frequent borrowers. And, the Xposure space can come with its own private entrance and access to its own private outdoor area where they will not interfere with the rest of the Library operation and patrons. Furthermore, when Xposure gets around to mounting its own off off broadway theatricals, the Library's meeting room just across the hall will be waiting.

Ok, but what about money?
By my reckoning, anything the Library gets from wasted space is a plus. Using the Credit Union in Town Hall as a comp, the Library should be able to command $50,000 for such prime space which is open hours that complement schools' down time. Now I never understood why Xposure doesn't pay for its space at the TDYCC, certainly Sonja Brown doesn't have that much influence. But the only way X'posure's going to crack the Library nut is to pay to move the Library Director out of her lair -- the private entrance works just as well for her. So it's back to the Lanzas god bless 'em. But since the Lanzas god bless 'em are already the prime benefactor's of the Xposure program and have sponsored the cybermobile and Sunday hours for the Library, this drop in the bucket (for 'em) should be an automatic response.
Can you imagine the Library with Xposure on board? This alone should move Greenburgh down/up? to the 50th best place to live and reaffirm the Town's bond rating even though there's no longer any corresponding Fund Balance to buy it.

So, let me know c/o this blog, when the grand opening will be.

hal samis said...

This late breaking news just in.

Dateline: Greenburgh

With the ink still drying on the lease to rent surplus space in the award winning Greenburgh Library to the world renowned Xposure program, the Greenburgh Library used the signing as the opportunity to pay back Elmsford for its desertion to the Ardsley Library. Referring to the lyrics to the Fats Domino song, "I Hear You Knocking But You Can't Come In", the Greenburgh Library Director told Elmsford parents flat out: "We got 'em (god bless) and you don't. So stick that in your Chevy (Chase) and drive it to the levee."