Tuesday, December 21, 2010


2010 is almost history. Here are some of the highlights from an exciting year:

FIRE DISTRICT CONSOLIDATION COMMISSION COMPLETES REPORT—A commission looking into the 3 paid fire districts (Fairview/Greenville/Hartsdale) completed their report. The report indicated that the three independent fire districts spend 32% more on personnel compensation than comparable peers. The report (which received page one attention in the NY section of the Wall Street Journal) recommended “cost savings measures to lessen the impact of financial troubles.” The report recommended administrative consolidation (sharing of administrative personnel and maintaining 3 independent districts). The report urged the town to study optimal staffing levels of the 3 fire districts and proposed that the state change the law so that pension payments would be based on base pay, excluding overtime and other benefits. The commission recommended the creation of an oversight committee to keep the community aware of the activities of the three paid fire districts. The majority and minority reports are posted on the town website: www.greenburghny.com.

GREENBURGH’S HEALTH CENTER TO RECEIVE $12 MILLION DOLLARS FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN STIMULUS FUNDS FOR EXPANSION—The health center is currently located on Tarrytown Road and will relocate to an approximately 30,000 square foot building on Knollwood Road at the site of the abandoned Cooke’s Nursery. The center has outgrown the existing facility. The Health Center provides excellent quality comprehensive primary health care services. The Health Center is independent of the town and county governments and receives funding from the US Departmetn of Health and Human Services.

$10,000,000 IN CERTIORARI PAYMENTS—the town, villages and school districts pay back over $10 million a year in certiorari refunds. A new Judge assigned to certiorari cases has forced all municipalities to pay certioraris faster. The town paid $5 million in refunds for the town alone, not counting schools, the fire districts or county. We need to look for ways to stabilize taxes, eliminate big payouts and remove the volatility of the tax rates from year to year. The percent of the total tax bill paid by residential property owners is going up, while the percent of the total tax bill paid by the commercial sector is going down. We are reviewing the possibility of reassessment. However, before any decision is made we are going to ask the NYS Legislature to approve hardship provisions. The Town Board approved funding in the 2011 budget to conduct an impact study to determine the impact of a reassessment.

TWO MAJOR STORMS RESULT IN MANY TREES DOWN, ROADS CLOSED—This spring the town experienced two major storms. At least 55 large trees along the roadside were uprooted during one of the storms. Some trees hit homes. There were hundreds of downed trees and one fatality in Hartsdale (a tree hit a man who was visiting his daughter). The public works department worked overtime to collect and dump the debris into our large container trucks. It took weeks to clean up the mess. I sent out frequent updates –every few hours –advising residents what streets were closed, re-opened, where the power outages were. We opened up warming centers at our community center. We have applied for a FEMA grant and expect to be reimbursed for most of our costs.

FORTRESS BIBLE CHURCH DECISION—A federal Judge issued a decision more than three years after a trial supporting the application of Fortress Bible Church to build their church on Dobbs Ferry Raod. In evaluating the church’s application to build a large combined school and church immediately adjacent to the busy entrance to the Sprain Brook Parkway on Dobbs Ferry Road, the town relied on its traffic expert who advised the town that the project, as proposed,would cause unsafe and dangerous traffic conditions. The town will be appealing this decision. During my tenure as Town Supervisor we have welcomed numerous and diverse religious institutions that have applied for and received approval for their projects. The town would welcome Fortress Bible church at an appropriate and safe location in Greenburgh.

AUCTION OF SURPLUS PROPERTY generates $457,000 in revenue for the town.

TRYING TO GET MORE BUSINESS—Held a meeting with realtors. The goal of the meeting: for town leaders to understand why there are so many vacancies on Central Ave and to work with them to attract new businesses. The town will be releasing a draft comprehensive plan in early 2011 and will recommend modifications in the law—which will make Central Ave and Greenburgh a more business friendly community.

NYS LEGISLATURE DID NOT ACT ON TOWN REQUEST FOR HOTEL TAX—During the past two years the NYS Legislature has authorized other localities in Westchester to levy a tax on hotels. The tax is generating significant revenue to those localities. Greenburgh did not receive permission to have a hotel tax last year but will renew the request in 2011. We anticipate that the hotel tax would generate six figures annually for the town--the funds would be used to keep your taxes down.

NEW ASSEMBLYMAN—Tom Abinanti was elected to the NYS Assembly.

COUNTY ANNOUNCES PLANS TO CLOSE WESTHELP WILL COST TOWN $1.2 MILLION IN LOST REVENUES—The County Executive announced plans to close down WESTHELP, a homeless shelter located in Greenburgh that houses 108 homeless families. The facility was built in the late 1980s by Andrew Cuomo. The town will lose $1.2 million a year if the shelter closes.

HELPING PEOPLE FIND WORK---With unemployment soaring I saw an opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives. Two years ago I set up an informal job club. I send job opportunities that I learn of to out-of-work residents who subscribe to my job e mail list almost daily. I also post job notices on www.linkedin.com (search for “Greenburgh Jobs Group” in LinkedIn Groups) and sponsor periodic meetings with employers, headhunters, Labor department officials and those seeking work. Over 60 people have found work--thanks to this service. A forum I had on September 14th, 2010 attracted over 100 job-seeking residents. Know someone who needs to find employment? Encourage them to join the Greenburgh Jobs Group at LinkedIn.com or contact me at home or at the office. Attached you’ll find notes of thanks from successful job seekers.


E Hartsdale Ave is undergoing a revitalization. This vital east-west artery through Westchester County that was once home to banks, pharmacies and specialty shops, E Hartsdale Ave has reinvented itself of late as an international food court. Vega, a zesty new Mexican restaurant and an expanded Enrico's pastry and cheese shop joined eight other eateries that include Azuma Sushi, Frankie & Fanucci's Wood Oven Pizzeria, Harry's of Hartsale, Hunan Village II and Masala Kraft Cafe. Frankie & Fanucci’s is doing so much business that they are expanding In 2010 we expanded our farmer's market--more farmers, more vendors, more food and excitement.

We are planning an E Hartsdale Ave Art Walk in the spring--which will consist of a juried show of local artworks reproduced on vinyl banners suspended from lampposts. Our goal: to make the avenue a destination place. Sarah Bracey White, chair of our arts & culture committee, placed art work in vacant store fronts.

OSI WON’T STAY IN GREENBURGH—Last year the town got some good enws. OSI planned to move their bio tech headquarters to Greenburgh. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on their new building (located on 9A, south of Ardsley). In 2010, Astellas took over OSI. The new owners decided that they did not want to move their offices here. We are working hard to find a new tenant for the property ---and hope for some good news in 2011!

FISHER BRIDGE DETERIORATES—The town learned that Fisher Ave bridge (connecting to the N White Plains Train Station) is in bad shape. The steel support beams under the closed side are severely deteriorated and no longer support the traffic. A new bridge is being ordered – and will be installed in the spring of 2011.

EMPIRE AND STELLARIS SETTLE CONTRACT DISPUTE --The Empire Blue Cross/Stellaris Health contract dispute created a dilemma for many Town residents. A four month impasse denied them access to White Plains Hospital, Lawrence Hospital, Phelps Hospital and Northern Westchester Hospital. I got involved, insisting Empire and Stellaris document their grounds for failing to resolve the dispute in a meeting with me and other municipal officials, I also organized an e mail campaign, asking residents to personalize their hardships over losing access to their hospitals. I gathered and shared over 100 distressing situations involving disruptions to treatments for cancer, leukemia and heart problems, among others. Coincidentally or not, the dispute was resolved shortly after I took action.

TRAFFIC IMPROVEMENTS MADE ON JACKSON AND 9A—Traffic improvements are being made on Jackson and Saw Mill River. A new left turn lane and traffic signal upgrades. New drainage facilities around the intersection.

TRAFFIC IMPROVEMENTS BEING MADE ON DOBBS FERRY ROAD- NYS is currently working on a major project that will increase traffic safety on Dobbs Ferry Road (intersection with Knollwood). The improvements include sidewalks.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING—We were able to negotiate an agreement. The abandoned and foreclosed Water Wheel property will be turned into affordable housing. The town is selling the property for $1.2 million. Working with the village of Ardsley, we negotiated an agreement with a developer to create affordable housing opportunities for volunteer firefighters/ambulance corp members.

PETITIONED TO TAKE OVER FRANK’S NURSERY—The town has filed legal papers seeking to foreclose on Frank’s Nursery which is located on Dobbs Ferry Road. We anticipate that we will take ownership of the property in 2011.

MAJOR COST-SAVING OPPORTUNITIES—Pension-padding has contributed to trillions of dollars in unfunded retirement liabilities nation-wide. I contacted NYS officials suggesting pension reform. I want pensions to be based on base salary, not overtime. A report by the Empire Center for New York State Policy indicated that statewide, 1,348 municipal retirees have pension benefits of more than $100,000 a year. Twenty-five Westchester employees are among the top retirees who earned the highest pensions in the state. I object to pension padding-a practice that uses overtime to boost salaries so public employees can receive disproportionately higher pensions. I also suggested a change in the state law that interferes with local government officials in negotiating with employee unions. Currently, we are forced to accept sometimes overly generous arbitration decisions when there is an impasse concerning public safety personnel salaries.

ENCOURAGING FAMILY NATURE WALKS --We expanded our successful Story Walk in 2010. Pages of a children's book are placed along a nature trail for children and parents to read. You will find them at the Greenburgh Nature Center and Hartsbrooke preserve. The Greenburgh Nature Center hired a new executive director.

GOVERNOR HOLDS TOWN HALL MEETING AT THEODORE YOUNG COMMUNITY CENTER_- Governor David Patterson is the most recent state official who held a community meeting at the Theodore Young Community Center. Secretary of State (and former US Senator) Hillary Clinton was at the TDYCC at least twice.

HONORING OUR VETERANS --LIVING HISTORY—The Living History Initiative is one of our exciting new projects. We are creating a verbal history of the experiences of Greenburgh’s esteemed war veterans. Our Veterans Advisory Committee is conducting the interviews, which are then featured on public access TV and archived at the Greenburgh library. Our veterans are sharing their experiences so future generations never forget. If you are a veteran and want to be included in our living history project, please contact me. We also hosted a very successful veterans appreciation barbeque --sponsored by a local bank. Alan Hochberg, former chair of the Poets Corner Civic Association, organized a very successful barbeque (sponsored by a bank) –honoring our veterans. Hundreds of veterans showed up.

SAVING THE WESTCHESTER-NY EXPRESS BUS The County Executive threatened to eliminate the popular and needed Westchester-NY express bus. I organized a letter writing campaign, a petition drive, sponsored community meetings and staged rallies. A compromise was reached which saved the bus route.

HISTORICAL DOUBLE AAA BOND RATINGS -For the first time in town history, Greenburgh received the highest possible bond rating from both Moody's and Standard and Poor’s. This rating (which only 3% of all localities in the nation have achieved) saves taxpayer dollars by reducing the interest we pay on capital bonds. We sold bonds at a low interest rate this year: 2.49% interest.

NO FUND BALANCE IN “A” BUDGET BEING USED IN 2011—for the first time in memory,the town is not using any fund balance (savings account) to balance the budget in the town-wide “A” budget. In the past programs were artificially subsidized with savings.

NEW PLAYGROUNDS—A new playground was installed at Richard Presser park (no taxpayer funds used—we paid for the playground with developer escrow funds). A new playground is planned for the Greenburgh Nature Center---target population: pre-k school children. The current playgrounds in Edgemont are on school property and are not accessible to pre k children. We will also use developer escrow funds (not tax dollars) to pay for the playground.

POOL STUDY== The town will need to spend millions within the next six years replacing the aging pool at AF Veteran park. A report was presented to the Town Board discussing options. Our goal: to plan ahead so when we need to replace the pool we don’t lose a season.

Garage Sale: Town Clerk Judith Beville organized Greenburgh’s first annual garage sale. 50 vendors participated. Hundreds of people enjoyed the event. The town clerk also organized a fund raising benefit to help the victims of the Haitian relief effort in late January.

HOME COMPOSTING OF LEAVES ENCOURAGED—We’re working with Irvington’s LOVE EM AND LEAVE EM initiative – encouraging residents to home compost their leaves. The initiative, if it takes off, could save the town and other localities hundreds of thousands of dollars. Home composting is easy and is good for your lawn.

CHILD CARE CENTER OPENS NEAR PROPOSED STOP & SHOP ON TARRYTOWN/GREENBURGH BORDER—A new child care facility has opened in Greenburgh (at a corporate office park).

AVALON STARTS CONSTRUCTION OF HOUSING OFF OF TAXTER ROAD—Construction has started off of Taxter Road. A 400+ housing development is being built.

SHOPRITE TO OPEN IN JANUARY—Shoprite will open their new supermarket, off of Ardsley Road and Central Ave in January, 2011. Construction could start in early 2011—a new supermarket (Stop & Shop) is being planned near the Sheraton Hotel, off of 119 (near Tarrytown).

3,755 NEW BUILDING PERMITS ISSUED IN 2010. $29 million worth of new construction in the town. The building department received 3 million dollars in building permits.

New restaurants on Central Ave include Hurricane Grill, El Dorado, Banzai. Walgreen’s also opened up.

NEW COURT ADMINISTRATOR—The town Board, at the urging of Judge Apotheker, Supervising Judge for local courts, hired Regina Hill as the Greenburgh Town Court administrator. She is implementing many internal controls in the court and has generated new revenue for the town. We now accept credit card payments.

FREE PRESCRIPTION DISCOUNT CARDS -- I have been distributing to residents free prescription discount cards for humans and pets. One constituent indicated that she expects to save over $900 a year using the card. There is no cost to the Town.

Those are a few of the highlights of 2010. As you can see the town never gets boring! Special thanks to the members of the Town Board: (Kevin Morgan, Francis Sheehan, Sonja Brown, Diana Juettner, Town Clerk Judith Beville, town department heads and town staff for their hard work. Have a healthy and happy holiday season and a fantastic new year!


Monday, December 20, 2010


Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo and many members of the NYS Legislature are proposing a cap on property taxes for all school districts and local governments (counties, towns, villages, and fire districts), set at the inflation rate or two percent, whichever is lower. Residents will retain local control and are empowered to override the cap with a 60 percent majority vote when an alternative proposal serves the best interests of the community.

The property tax cap, if adopted, will force governments to either cut services, share or consolidate. That's why the work session on Tuesday morning is so important.




The Children's library at the library has been closed because of heating problems. We are working hard trying to fix the heating problem. We plan to hire an independent professional engineer to fully evaluate THE mechanical system from both the design and installed conditions to advise the town why we are continuing to have problems at our new library.
At this time, the problem with the unit serving the Children’s section is identified and parts are expected very soon. Additionally, technicians are scheduled to meet Tuesday at the Library to review operating conditions of another unit that provides heat to most of the library to trouble shoot a condition that is causing it to shut-down at times. The Town Board will discuss at our work session tomorrow at 12:30 PM. Meeting will be televised. I was at the library today and apologize to parents and children for the inconveniences they have experienced.


Saturday, December 18, 2010




The Fire District Consolidation Commission report can be read on the town website.

EXTENDED DATE!!! As the weather turns cold, think of those families
struggling to keep warm. Everyone needs a coat but not everyone can afford
one. Your gently used coats will help keep the chill out and warm a heart.
The New York Sports Club has agreed to help in this project. Local
charitable organizations are eager to collect your coat donations and
redistribute them to those in need.

Please drop off your used coats at the New York Sports Club in HARTSDALE
before 31 December. (Adults and kids sizes in clean and wearable condition
only please.) Thank you for your help! A project by a 7th grader at Sacred
Heart School in Hartsdale



Seeks Administrative and Benefits Savings, Recommends Only Partial Consolidation Now

GREENBURGH, NY, November, 16, 2010 – Greenburgh‟s three independent fire districts that on average spend 32 percent more for personnel compensation than comparable peers were urged today to initiate cost-savings measures to lessen the impact of a “Perfect Storm” of financial troubles that appear imminent, even though for the last two years, tax increases have been minimal.

The request and warning was issued in a report by the Fire Department Consolidation & Government Efficiency Commission (FDCGEC), an independent commission comprised of citizens, business leaders and fire officials that was created by the Greenburgh Town Board just over a year ago following adoption of a state law that encourages local communities to explore potential tax savings through the consolidation of municipal services.

Because of what it perceived was a weakness in that new state law that gives citizens the ability to put consolidation referendum on the ballot, and for other reasons, the FDCGEC did not recommend at this time full consolidation of the Fairview, Greenville and Hartsdale fire districts. It did say that savings and efficiencies could be achieved by administrative consolidation whereby one fire chief would substitute for the current three and by improved fiscal and business practices.

Last year the compensation for the Fairview chief was $215,605, the Greenville chief was $206,969, and the Hartsdale chief was $199,500. Under administrative consolidation, commissioners of the three districts (five commissioners each) would continue to exercise local control, levy taxes, and incur indebtedness. State law already authorizes them to consolidate fully, if they chose.

The FDCGEC also urged the town government to hire independent outside experts to study optimal staffing levels of the fire departments. It urged creation of a permanent watchdog committee to keep the community aware of the activities of the three fire districts, and also proposed changes in state law that could lead to reductions in fire suppression costs, including basing pension payments only on base pay and excluding overtime and other benefits.

“The Perfect Storm is upon us,” the report stated, noting that revenue was declining because of reductions in the tax base as property values shrink. Meanwhile, expenses are escalating for salaries, health care costs, pensions, and lack of pension contributions by personnel who were hired prior to this year.

Alan Hochberg of Hartsdale, who chaired the commission, said the mandate given it was to examine whether the money could be saved without jeopardizing public safety. “It is important that we seek to find ways to increase the number of firefighters available for firefighting duty, maintain the existing number of fire houses in the three districts, and encourage greater voter participation in elections for fire district commissioners and district budgets. Fire protection is a significant portion of our local property tax bill, and we deserve to get the maximum bang for our buck.”

Among the findings of the study:

Over a seven-year period (between 2003 and 2010), property taxes levied by the three fire districts increased by 63 percent, or an average annual gain of 7.03 percent, while the corresponding cost of living was up an average of only 2.6 percent per year.

Assuming that salaries continue to increase at 4 percent per year, contributions to the pension fund increase by 18 percent per annum, and medical and dental premiums increase by 15 percent per year, than property tax rates starting in 2011 through 2015 are expected to increase 8.4 percent per year.

The average income for firefighters in three districts was $125,712 in the latest reporting year; total compensation is higher by 32 percent when compared to a peer group of firefighters in the City of White Plains, Village of Scarsdale and Eastchester Fire District that averaged $95,210. The peer group consisted of predominantly paid career firefighters. The disparity stems primarily from higher base salaries and overtime.

The average income for a fire chief in each of the three districts in 2009 was $207,358; this compensation is higher by 34 percent when compared to a peer group consisting of the City of White Plains, City of New Rochelle and Village of Scarsdale that averaged $156,077.

Fairview, Greenville and Hartsdale fire districts have 111 fire suppression personnel and combined salary and overtime costs of $14.6 million; by comparison, the City of White Plains has 167 fire personnel and combined salary and overtime costs of $15.4 million. For an additional $800,000, White Plains has 56 additional firefighters.

Salaries, overtime and benefits comprise about 86 percent of the three districts‟ budgets. Hartsdale and Fairview have a more generous and costly pension program; pensions are based on the final year of service instead of the three-year averaging of Greenville and most other fire departments. The change to a final year averaging increases retirement contributions to the state pension system by Hartsdale and Fairview by 2.5 percent and required them to pay the state $1.7 million for past years. The one-year final average plan resulted in eight of the last 18 retirees receiving pensions that exceeded $100,000 a year.

In 2009, the three districts incurred overtime costs of $2.4 million (16 percent of compensation); a pattern was found of employees who incurred a disproportionate amount of overtime in the years leading up to retirement relative to other overtime eligible individuals which may inflate their retirement pensions.

Fire districts pay for the full medical and dental costs of all fire personnel, their spouses and dependents, and continue to do the same for firefighters and spouses in retirement.

Fire districts pay for the full pension benefits of all fire personnel (except for employees hired after this past January 1, who are required to contribute 3 percent of the pension costs).

The three fire districts employ four civilian employees (secretaries, clerks, treasurers) earning in the aggregate almost $350,000 in 2009, and some receiving comparable medical/dental and pension benefits and paid holidays to those of uniformed firefighters.

Only Greenville has signed up with 60-Control, a popular program run by the Westchester County Department of Emergency Services which provides dispatching of phone calls for fire department assistance at no cost to the participating members; 44 other fire agencies throughout Westchester and 20 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agencies currently utilize this service. Hartsdale and Fairview use existing personnel as dispatchers at a cost totaling more than $800,000 a year.

Fire district employees receive up to 14 holidays off and get paid for those days on top of base salary; Fairview personnel get their birthdays with pay.

Fire personnel provide inspections of commercial buildings, conduct training exercises, school lectures, train babysitters, pump out basements during floods, and other duties.

The FDCGEC group recommended that a further study explore the feasibility of using paid civilian personnel to handle call dispatching and/or the use of Westchester County 60-Control for centralized dispatching (either solution could free personnel for firefighting duties while reducing overtime expenses); better communication among fire districts and constituents regarding upcoming elections, budgets and other important news; moving elections for fire commissioners and budgets to a more convenient date in the spring or fall instead of the present second Tuesday in December; and schedule regular meetings among fire commissioners of the three districts to share “best practices”; an exploration of the most equitable way to spread past and future bonding obligations in case of a consolidation in addition to the appointment of an independent watchdog group to conduct ongoing oversight of the respective fire districts.

The FDCGEC commended the career firefighters and volunteers for their bravery, dedication and hard work. In addition to use of better fiscal and business practices to put more firefighting personnel on the street, the FDCGEC expressed the desire to maintain all current fire district buildings and equipment – in fact, improving the condition of these buildings and equipment, where necessary, particularly in Fairview where the two fire stations are badly in need of repairs.

Mr. Hochberg stated, “The „Perfect Storm‟ may be fast approaching due to the combination of growing expenses – many of them mandated by state laws and collective bargaining agreements, shrinking sources of revenue, and resistance by taxpayers to further tax increases. The alternative to change may only be more taxes or reduced firefighting capabilities. We don‟t wish to see either occur. I am sure all of the members of the FDCGEC agree that they would not want to reduce firefighting personnel”

Luis Polit, a member of the FDCGEC, added that administrative consolidation is one small step to achieve savings which can be redeployed to augment resources. More meaningful savings would come from the union representing the Greenburgh firefighters working hand in hand with the districts to give concessions on healthcare costs and aligning salaries with those of its peers. He also called on the state‟s lawmakers to reevaluate and amend the current pension laws. While there has been some pension reform requiring employees hired after January 1, 2010 to contribute to the pension plan, the full benefit of this change in the law will not be realized until there is full turnover in the force, which in the districts could take about 20-years. More reform is needed. He also summoned on the state‟s lawmakers to amend the pension law so that overtime is excluded for purposes of determining retiree benefits.

A copy of the FDCGEC report in located on the official Town of Greenburgh website at http://www.greenburghny.com/

About the Greenburgh Fire Department Consolidation & Government Efficiency Commission (FDCGEC)

Appointed by the Greenburgh Town Board in September 2009, the commission is comprised of a current district fire chief, a deputy fire chief, a fire district commissioner, a retired senior editor of The Journal News, a Certified Public Accountant, a retired chief auditor of United States Department of Transportation, a retired executive director of a large religious organization, and three current or former corporate business executives.

About the Fairview, Greenville and Hartsdale Fire Districts

The three fire districts originated about a century ago, initially as all-volunteer bucket brigades, and became taxing districts during the 1920s. They cover about 73% of unincorporated Greenburgh, or about 11.7 square miles (the other 27% are in fire protection districts which are contracted by the Town of Greenburgh). The Town of Greenburgh collects property taxes that have been levied by the three fire districts and transfers the collection to the respective districts.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Board approves budget

The Greenburgh Town Board approved the 2011 town budget tonight. The budget will be posted on the website in its entirety next week.
Shortly after I submitted the 2011 budget to the Greenburgh Town Board the County Executive of Westchester, Rob Astorino, submitted his county budget to the Board of Legislators. The County Executive decided to close down WESTHELP, a homeless shelter in Greenburgh. The town had been receiving $1.223 million a year from the county in revenue from WESTHELP. The town will lose $305,750 in 2011 and $1.2 million in 2012. In response to this action the town Board decided to take action to offset the loss of revenue.The Town Board also decided not to use any fund balance in the A budget—which the unincorporated residents of Greenburgh and village residents pay into. This is the first time the town has not artificially subsidized town programs in the A budget by using savings.
The town has a AAA bond rating (from S & P and Moody’s). Approximately 3% of all localities in the nation have the highest bond rating. In my tentative budget I had planned to use some fund balance to have a lower tax increase in the A budget. I think the Board made a fiscally prudent decision to use no fund balance in that budget. The average resident, who has a $15,000 assessment will pay $27 a year more because of that decision. The $27 increase per average household could save residents many thousands of dollars because communities that have a AAA bond rating borrow at less expensive rates.
The Board made some other changes to the tentative budget. At the recommendation of a task force, we are going to conduct a reassessment impact study to determine the impact per neighborhood and different populations of a reassessment of town properties. We are working with Assemblyman-elect Tom Abinanti on this issue and may seek changes in NYS law to address hardships if reassessment takes place. $20,000 was appropriated –no requests for proposals have been issued – the cost may be less for the study once we reach out to consultants.
The Board rejected a proposal that I had made in my tentative budget to hire a consultant for $50,000 to study and help plan for the creation of an Independent Library District. Independent Library districts are independent of town government. Voters elect library board members and vote on the library budget annually. The Board deleted $150,000 from the library budget. The library will receive $3,204,838 from the town in 2011. We hope to raise private dollars to offset some of the cuts. There will be some fee increases in the parks budget. A civilian EMT will be added to the budget ($38,287) to reduce reliance on having a police officer provide Emergency medical services. We will be able to assign an additional police officer to street patrols—providing enhanced protection to residents.
The average resident of unincorporated Greenburgh ($15,000 assessment) will pay the town $2630.24 in 2011. In 2011 the resident paid $2516.54. the difference: $113.70 more. Village residents: 2011: $215.26 a year. In 2010: $114.75. $100.52 more.

The Town has an AAA bond rating (the highest rating possible). Unlike the state government
and many localities around the nation the Town is in good financial shape. One of the reasons
is we adopted a Town fund balance policy a few years ago to instill fiscal discipline.
I realize that any tax hike - even with a small dollar figure amount attached to it – is
undesirable. We need to look at the big picture and reinvent the way government runs. We
need to find new revenues and more ways to cut expenses. These are some thoughts:
Over the last several years the town, villages and school districts have paid back over
$10,000,000 per year in certiorari refunds. A new Judge assigned to certiorari cases has
forced all municipalities in Westchester to pay certioraris faster. In the 2011 budget we have
included $5 million in refunds for town alone, not counting schools, the fire districts or county.
In 2010 we anticipate refunding approximately $3.1 million.
Members of the Town Board and I are looking for ways to stabilize the taxes, reduce certioraris
significantly, eliminate big payouts and remove the volatility of the tax rates from year to year.
We are also concerned because the percent of the total tax bill paid by residential property
owners is going up while the percent of the total tax bill paid by the commercial sector is going
down. One option to be considered is reassessment. However, before any decision to
reassess is made, we will be asking the NYS Legislature to approve hardship provisions to
assist struggling families and retirees. We are funding an impact assessment study.
At a recent Town Board work session (October 28) we invited J. Dwight Hadley, CPA to speak
to us. He was the former chair of the New York State Board of Accountancy. He is working
with another upstate community on an innovative concept: the establishment of a sanitation
enterprise fund. This concept, which the Town Board is currently reviewing, would change the
way sanitation services are offered to residents and increase transparency. The Town would
send residents a bill for sanitation services instead of having them pay for it through Town
taxes. Residents/businesses would have the option of comparing the costs of our service with
the private sector. If we offer a better service, individual residents/businesses could choose to
hire the Town to pick up garbage. If you are not satisfied with our price or level of service you
would have the option of contracting with the private sector. The Board is requesting the comptroller to
provide us with an analysis of the actual costs –running the sanitation department.
During the past two years the New York State Legislature has authorized other municipalities
in Westchester to levy a tax on hotels. This tax is generating significant revenue to those
localities. The Town of Greenburgh is requesting the State Legislature authorize Greenburgh
to do the same. I anticipate that the State Legislature will take action in 2011, which will
increase our revenues for 2012 and beyond. This could generate a six figure annual revenue
Over a year ago the Town Board appointed a citizens commission to take a look at the costs of
operating the three paid fire districts. These districts are independent of the Town. The Board will hear
the majority and minority reports this Tuesday, December 21st at 9:30 AM. The meeting will be televised
live on public access TV and will be archived on our website: www.greenburghny.com.
In recent years Greenburgh’s Library has been closed on Sunday’s. Other libraries around the
county have also cut their library hours. In response, some communities around the state have
created independent library districts. Library Commissioners are elected and their budgets are
submitted to you the taxpayer annually for a vote. I believe the library should be independent of
the town government. Another approach is to ask all the libraries within
Greenburgh to coordinate their hours.
NO ARBITRATION—NYS law authorizes an arbitration panel to impose police salary increases if the town and PBA cannot
Reach an agreement. Arbitration awards are significantly higher than salary increases that local officials would probably approve. I
Believe that NYS law should be changed to eliminate arbitration panels. I believe that elected officials should have the power to
set salaries for employees.
PENSIONS SHOULD BE BASED ON BASE PAY, NOT OVERTIME—To cut overtime and pension abuses around the state, I believe that
The NYS Legislature should base pensions on base pay, not overtime. Will be lobbying the NYS Legislature to approve this recommendation.
.STRAIGHT PAY, NOT DOUBLE TIME OR TIME AND A HALF---A very good suggestion was made at the budget hearing. Employees who work
Overtime should receive straight pay, not time and a half or double time. The Greenville Fire department has been doing this with many of their
Fire fighters. I would like to see this expand. Could cut overtime costs significantly. Think other levels of government: county, state, local governments should follow this example.
BUDGET MESSAGE - 2011 BUDGET-------excerpts
B BUDGET: $68.9 million in 2011 - Average unincorporated Greenburgh resident will pay
$113.70 more in 2011 (combined A & B taxes)---this reflects changes made tonight
A BUDGET: $15.7 million in 2011 - Average village resident will pay $100.52 more in 2011—this reflects changes made tonight
The 2011 budget, like budgets in recent years, reflects our mission to control the costs of
government. A chart is attached to this budget message comparing the 2011 operating budget
spending per department to 2010 department spending. Some departments will spend less in
2011 than in 2010. This has to be done to offset large increases in employee fringe benefits
over which we have less direct control.
The challenges we as a community face with the B Budget include certioraris, lower assessed
values, pension increases, health care hikes and higher insurance costs. WE ANTICIPATE
ISSUING $5 MILLION IN REFUNDS due to certioraris in 2011. Our pension costs have gone
up by 36% for the Employee Retirement System (ERS) and 24% for the Police and Fire
Retirement System (PFRS). (The Town has no control over these percentages.) This equates
to a pension cost increase of $1.0 million. In addition, health care costs increased by 15%,
which equates to an increase of $1.4 million. Assessed valuations decreased by $9.2 million
which negatively impacts the tax rate.
There would be no tax hike in my proposed B Budget were it not for certioraris.
During my tenure as Town Supervisor we have significantly increased services, including
services to the villages. We now provide advance life support and paramedic services by
trained police to village residents. This program has saved many lives. Greenburgh is the only
town in the state to offer its residents this advance life support service by the police.
We also expanded a service and made it available to village residents -special recreation for
those with disabilities. I am proud that we have given children with special needs the
opportunity to enjoy their quality of life and thank the villages for requesting this program.
At the end of this message I have included a listing of services currently offered to village
residents by the Town. I think the taxpayers get great value from these services.
When the economy was good we were receiving a lot of revenue from the mortgage tax. As a
result, we were able to increase services without increasing taxes. We used fund balance (our
savings) to pay for these programs -without asking residents to absorb the actual cost for each
of these the programs. In fact, a few years ago we had enough fund balance that we actually
reduced taxes in the A Budget by 12% in 2006, 10% in 2007 and 32% in 2008.
Unfortunately, the economy is bad. We can no longer use large amounts of fund balance and
do not have the mortgage tax revenue that we once had. Also, assessed valuations are down
$13.9 million compared with 2010.
At the bottom of this budget message I have provided readers with a chart showing to which
jurisdiction a typical taxpayer pays their taxes. A taxpayer in the Village of Ardsley, for example,
will pay the Town $188.54, village government $3,575.70, the county $1,968.44 and the school
district $7,685. Many think their Town tax is much higher than the $188.54 example because
the Town acts as a tax collection agent for the schools, county and fire districts even though
the Town has no control over their budgets.
In response to residents of the villages who have asked about town services, I have compiled
the following list of services that we currently offer residents of the villages. I believe that these
services are worth the additional $73.79 in taxes for 2011 for a typical resident with a $15,000
1. We offer Advance Life Support (ALS) and paramedic services which has a proven
record of repeatedly saving the lives of village residents. Hopefully, you won't need
them, but if you do these services are ready to respond to your call 24 hours a day.
2. The town-wide senior program serves or delivers over 30,000 meals to village seniors
each year. The program provides a hot meal five days a week to eligible seniors. We
have three nutrition sites - in Dobbs Ferry, Tarrytown and unincorporated
Greenburgh. Our home delivery program provides delivery services to seniors who
cannot come to one of these sites.
3. The Town has a recreation program for residents who have developmental disabilities.
4. The Town’s animal control department responds to calls for service within the
villages. If there is a stray or injured animal the animal control unit will respond. We
transport the animals to an appropriate medical facility for care.
5. The Town's civil defense unit provides civil defense services during natural disasters
and other major events, such as post 9/11 and during blackouts. These services include
coordination of communications for police, fire, paramedics and refilling of air packs and
fresh air for specialized rescues. The unit also responds to refill the air tanks of village
volunteer firefighters during fires.
6. The Town's highly trained and specially equipped special weapons and tactics (SWAT)
team is available 24/7 to respond to emergencies. Officers from throughout the town
who meet very rigorous standards are readily available to respond to emergencies in
the villages.
7. The Town's road striping unit is responsible for striping roads, including the center and
side lines and crosswalks on roads in all six villages.
8. The Town acts as a collection agent for the schools and county. The Town guarantees
100% of the taxes to both entities.
9. A few weeks ago, at the request of the villages, the Town took over the responsibilities
of dog licensing.
Sample Breakdown of Where Your Local Taxes Go
Town Board $116,378 $114,178 $2,200 1.93%
Town Justices $1,333,180 $1,287,661 $45,519 3.54%
Supervisor $196,108 $194,858 $1,250 0.64%
Comptroller $716,750 $715,580 $1,170 0.16%
Auditor $79,569 $77,250 $2,319 3.00%
Tax Collection $243,503 $244,303 ($800) -0.33%
Purchasing $170,863 $170,363 $500 0.29%
Assessor $711,207 $712,613 ($1,406) -0.20%
Town Clerk $303,725 $319,702 ($15,977) -5.00%
Town Attorney $1,078,900 $1,053,656 $25,244 2.40%
Town Engineer $45,921 $45,921 $0 0.00%
Elections $180,280 $175,243 $5,037 2.87%
Public Works Administration $480,016 $473,062 $6,954 1.47%
Central Services $775,724 $815,840 ($40,116) -4.92%
Central Data Processing $507,545 $515,578 ($8,033) -1.56%
Unallocated Insurance $176,400 $168,000 $8,400 5.00%
Municipal Association Dues $4,000 $4,000 $0 0.00%
Judgment & Claims $300,000 $250,000 $50,000 20.00%
Taxes $42,000 $41,000 $1,000 2.44%
Special Items $8,000 $8,000 $0 0.00%
Contingent Account $664,000 $500,000 $164,000 32.80%
TOTAL GENERAL GOV'T SUPPORT $8,134,069 $7,886,808 $247,261 3.14%
Police & Constables $12,099 $13,342 ($1,243) -9.32%
Police & Constables - Marine Unit $0 $7,145 ($7,145) -100.00%
Police & Constables - SWAT $159,934 $161,277 ($1,343) -0.83%
Traffic Control $422,185 $423,556 ($1,371) -0.32%
Hartsdale Public Parking $76,000 $74,000 $2,000 2.70%
Control of Animals $321,412 $314,868 $6,544 2.08%
Civil Defense $21,821 $24,861 ($3,040) -12.23%
Other Public Safety $0 $14,000 ($14,000) -100.00%
Narcotic Guidance Council $20,000 $20,000 $0 0.00%
Advanced Life Support $914,456 $892,708 $21,748 2.44%
TOTAL PUBLIC SAFETY $1,947,907 $1,945,757 $2,150 0.11%
MAINTENANCE OF BRIDGES $5,000 $4,500 $500 11.11%
Nutrition Program - Transfer $275,706 $240,585 $35,121 14.60%
Veterans Service $600 $600 $0 0.00%
OPPORTUNITY $276,306 $241,185 $35,121 14.56%
Council on Arts (1) $0 $53,330 ($53,330) -100.00%
Recreation Administration $210,912 $217,764 ($6,852) -3.15%
Rec - Park Maintenance $0 $0 $0 0.00%
Day Care Center $103,220 $100,657 $2,563 2.55%
Historian $4,934 $4,934 $0 0.00%
TOTAL CULTURE & RECREATION $319,066 $376,685 ($57,619) -15.30%
EMPLOYEE BENEFITS $3,037,201 $2,784,525 $252,676 9.07%
INTERFUND TRANSFERS $450,000 $375,000 $75,000 20.00%
DEBT SERVICE $1,525,403 $1,436,310 $89,093 6.20%
TOTAL APPROPRIATIONS $15,694,952 $15,050,770 $644,182 4.28%
(1) Council on Arts was moved from the A Fund to the B Fund and went from 53,330 to 52,402, a 1.74% decrease
Town Clerk $27,585 $27,835 ($250) -0.90%
Cable TV $206,954 $120,968 $85,986 71.08%
Public Works Administration $416,481 $393,810 $22,671 5.76%
Central Services $313,500 $328,000 ($14,500) -4.42%
Unallocated Insurance $551,250 $525,000 $26,250 5.00%
Judgment & Claims $5,000,000 $2,800,000 $2,200,000 78.57%
Taxes $111,060 $116,000 ($4,940) -4.26%
Special Items $26,500 $25,000 $1,500 6.00%
Contingent Account $1,070,000 $1,375,000 ($305,000) -22.18%
TOTAL GENERAL GOV'T SUPPORT $7,723,330 $5,711,613 $2,011,717 35.22%
Police and Constables $16,734,986 $15,802,920 $932,066 5.90%
Police-Housing Authority $0 $0 $0 0.00%
Building Department $930,522 $915,445 $15,077 1.65%
TOTAL PUBLIC SAFETY $17,665,508 $16,718,365 $947,143 5.67%
Registrar of Vital Statistics $2,700 $2,700 $0 0.00%
Environment Quality Control $0 $0 $0 0.00%
Narcotics Guidance Council $33,674 $33,674 $0 0.00%
TOTAL HEALTH $36,374 $36,374 $0 0.00%
Highway Garage $75,000 $89,700 ($14,700) -16.39%
Street Lighting $742,866 $693,492 $49,374 7.12%
TOTAL TRANSPORTATION $817,866 $783,192 $34,674 4.43%
Council on Arts (1) $52,402 $0 ($52,402) 100.0%
Recreation Administration $1,536,831 $1,614,592 ($77,761) -4.82%
Senior Transportation $2,600 $2,600 $0 0.00%
Parks Maintenance $1,630,215 $1,664,479 ($34,264) -2.06%
Anthony F. Veteran Park $468,000 $466,233 $1,767 0.38%
Nature Center $365,096 $359,290 $5,806 1.62%
Community Center $2,699,929 $2,823,984 ($124,055) -4.39%
Fairview Greenburgh Pool $613,300 $654,746 ($41,446) -6.33%
TOTAL CULTURE & RECREATION $7,368,373 $7,585,924 ($217,551) -2.87%
Zoning & Planning $480,730 $374,824 $105,906 28.25%
Sanitation $4,794,732 $4,717,594 $77,138 1.64%
Rent Subsidy $55,000 $55,000 $0 0.00%
Conservation $28,093 $28,183 ($90) -0.32%
Other Community Services-Grants $120,051 $121,051 ($1,000) -0.83%
TOTAL HOME & COMM. SERVICES $5,478,606 $5,296,652 $181,954 3.44%
EMPLOYEE BENEFITS $14,018,481 $12,608,507 $1,409,974 11.18%
Library Fund $3,354,838 $2,992,740 $362,098 12.10%
Insurance Fund $425,000 $350,000 $75,000 21.43%
Highway Fund $5,100,115 $5,891,969 ($791,854) -13.44%
TOTAL INTERNAL TRANSFERS $8,879,953 $9,234,709 ($354,756) -3.84%
DEBT SERVICE $6,919,079 $6,367,991 $551,088 8.65%
TOTAL APPROPRIATIONS $68,907,570 $64,343,327 $4,564,243 7.09%
(1) Council on Arts was moved from the A Fund to the B Fund and went from 53,330 to 52,402, a 1.74% decrease
The presentation of this proposed budget is step one. To offset the revenue declines and
expense increases we have made many painstakingly considered choices. There are
reductions in controllable expenses. The Town is continuing its practice of not filling positions
as employees leave and we are offering an Early Retirement Incentive.
In the coming weeks the Town Council and I will be meeting with neighborhoods, civic
associations and community leaders. We have until December 20 to approve a final budget.
I want to thank the other members of the Town Board for working in partnership with me on the
proposed budget. We have been meeting week after week reviewing line items in every
department budget. I also thank Bart Talamini, Town Comptroller, for his hard work and
dedication in the preparation of this budget. During this period of fiscal austerity it is a
challenge to do more with less. This budget provides the fiscal framework for meeting that
Paul J. Feiner
Greenburgh Town Supervisor
P.S. The entire Town budget will be posted shortly on the Town’s web
site, www.greenburghny.com.

Friday, December 10, 2010

county tax cut...town budget discussions...coat drive...snow angels...fun events

The Westchester County Board of Legislators approved a 2% levy TAX CUT at their Board meeting today and restored funding for child care, health centers, mental health clinics, section 8 housing and labs and research. The tax cut is greater than the tax cut originally proposed by the County Executive -a 2% cut, instead of a 1% tax cut. The budget was approved by Democratic and Republican lawmakers. Only one Democrat voted against the budget.
The Town Board will hold a work session this Monday evening at 7:30 PM to discuss the 2011 town budget. We will reconvene on Tuesday, December 14th at 9:15 AM to continue our discussions on the budget. There will be another public hearing on Wednesday, December 15th at 7:30 PM (we already had 2 hearings) and we are scheduled to vote on the budget Thursday evening.

As the weather turns cold, think of those families struggling to keep warm.
Everyone needs a coat but not everyone can afford one. Your gently used
coats will help keep the chill out and warm a heart. The New York Sports
Club has agreed to help in this project. Local charitable organizations
are eager to collect your coat donations and redistribute them to those in

Please drop off your used coats at the New York Sports Club in HARTSDALE
before 16 December. (Adults and kids sizes in clean and wearable condition
only please.) Thank you for your help! A project by a 7th grader at Sacred
Heart School in Hartsdale


FUN EVENTS FROM http://www.rivertownsguide.com

Greenburgh Nature Center Train Show – Opens this Saturday, December 11
Interested in winning a Free Family Guest Pass to the Train Show? Visit our Home Page and see the “Holiday Season Model Train Show” listings on Saturday for details.

News & Info
Sunrise Series Concerts
Sundays at 8:00am through June 2011, with Alan Murray, piano. Program information available at: www.studio-hollywood.com. Location: First Unitarian Society of Westchester, 25 Old Jackson Ave., Hastings. Admission: free, open to the public

Holiday Gift Boutique -- Arts, Crafts and more…
Wednesday ~ December 15 from 10am – 4pm @ EILEEN FISHER Café’ on the Hudson ~ Irvington
The Caring Committee will be sponsoring the 4th Annual Holiday Gift Boutique. The Caring Committee will sponsor a Salad & Soup Kitchen and beverages for purchase while you enjoy your holiday shopping experience. For further information or if you have questions, please contact Joanne Lawson at JLawson@EileenFisher.com or Johanne Read (JRead@EileenFisher.com).

Tarrytown Third Friday is December 17, 5pm – 9pm
Celebrating the holiday season with Frosty and Rudolph, music, shopping, events, and fun! Bring your camera and get a picture with beloved holiday characters Frosty and Rudolph! Keep an eye and an ear out for unexpected music on Main Street.

Winter Farmers Markets
Irvington Village Farmers Market: Monthly Winter Market from 2pm - 7pm at Irvington Senior Center, 29 Bridge Street. Dates: January 12, 2011; February 9, 2011; and March 9, 2011.Vendors include: Panzarella Italian breads, mozzarella, soups and pasta, Champagne crab cakes. Simply Valley Cheese and Bread. Dutch Desserts – European-style tarts. Madura Farms fresh produce, wide range of culinary mushrooms. Big Girl Bakery cheesecake, biscotti, cookies, granola, flatbreads.

Weekend Highlights:
Hastings Farmers Market: "Second Saturday" of every month
Saturday, December 11 from 9am - 1pm at the Hastings Public Library Parking Lot
Add’l Dates: Jan. 8. Feb. 12, March 12 @ James Harmon Community Center. April 9 and May 14 @ Hastings Library Lot.

Alternative Gifts Fair || South Church, Dobbs Ferry
Sunday Dec. 12 & 19 @ 11:45am
This year, shop with a passion. From help for the homeless poor in NYC, to support for education and self-reliance in impoverished nations, your gift plants seeds of peace.

Bach Meets Bebop: Gary Smulyan and Friends
Friday, December 10 @ 8pm Irvington Town Hall Theater http://www.riverarts.org/concerts.html http://www.riverarts.org/concerts.html
Presented by RiverArts. Gary Smulyan (jazz) and Henk van Twillert (classical) play a baritone saxophone duet of the Bach Cello Suites with brilliance and wit. Followed by a superb trio of Smulyan, Harvie S on bass and Ron Vincent on drums. Conversation with these world renowned artists to follow, after Party at River City Grille. Reserved seating $28. Advanced purchase recommended or call 914.476.2321

Galapagos Books: Holiday Book Signing!
Saturday, December 11 from 2pm - 5pm @ James Harmon Community Center, 44 Main Street, Hastings
Meet over 24 Authors and Illustrators! Click for the complete list! http://galapagosbooksstore.com/

"Empty Bowls” | Masters Dining Hall, Dobbs Ferry
Friday, December 10 from 5pm - 7pm
This is an "Empty Bowls" event whereby the students made 100 ceramic bowls to help fight hunger. This event is open to the public and the suggested contribution is $10. For that donation you get to choose a one-of-a-kind clay bowl that is then filled with the soup of your choice. All participants sit to share a simple soup and bread meal and reflect on how prevalent hunger is in this world. You get to keep the bowl! All proceeds from the event go to the Kwithu Orphan Feeding Center in Malawi, Africa. You can download the flyer on our Home Page/Fundraising section.

Holiday Season Model Train Show [link]
Greenburgh Nature Center. See the Listing on our Home Page http://www.rivertownsguide.com to learn about winning a Family Guest Pass to this great event. Saturday, December 11 from 10am - 4:30pm || Back by popular demand, the GNC is partnering with the Westchester/Yonkers Model Railroad Club (WYMRC) to present a special, nine-day holiday season show entitled “Trains – Your Ticket to the Great Outdoors.”$9 for adults, $8 for students and seniors, $7 for children ages 2-12; $1 for GNC members. Children under 2 free. Price includes regular GNC admission fee. For further information, call 723-3470 or go to [link]. Through Sunday December 19th

River Spirit Music presents The Rastus Kain Band
December 11 @ 10pm | | Rainwater Grill, Hastings | Rastus Kain may be the finest electric slide guitarist to come from the state of Florida, if not the whole south, as well as a gifted songwriter & stage performer with a veteran rhythm section.

The Village of Ardsley is Looking for donations!
The Youth Advocate Program would love to add some items to the Community Center for the teens that visit. Youth Advocate Wishlist, * XBox360 video game system, * Wii, * Playstation3, * Stereo, * DVDs. Please contact the Youth Advocate, Allison Mastrogiacomo, at 674-4845 if you would like to donate. A receipt will be given with any donation for a tax deduction.

Irvington News: Got leaves? Want more?
Some Irvington residents are giving thanks for… leaves! We’ve had a tremendous response to our “Love ’Em and Leave ’Em” campaign—in fact, some Village residents have even asked if they can get MORE leaves than they have on their own property! To which the answer is, YES! If you, too, appreciate the value of leaves for compost, and would like the Village to deliver some to you instead of trucking them away, here’s what to do: Identify a location on your property near the street, which would be accessible by a large dump truck (including clearance for the truck to raise its dumper far away from any overhead wires or branches). Mark the location clearly with a traffic cone or a sign. Call the DPW at 591-6044 or email Greg Nilsson at gnilsson@irvingtonny.gov. Your request should include the following: your name, address, and a description of the accessible location; the approximate volume of leaves you want; and any restrictions about when the leaves can or can’t be delivered. The DPW will arrange to deliver the leaves when they are regularly scheduled to work in your neighborhood. Please note that these leaves are provided "as is" - as collected from piles along Irvington's streets. There may be twigs and other debris mixed in unavoidably. Happy composting!

Give the Gift of Giving…Family-to-Family’s Annual Holiday Toy Drive
through December 15
Please join us in our efforts to make the Holidays bright for families struggling this Holiday Season. The Hastings-on-Hudson chapter of F-to-F is collecting new unwrapped toys & books for children 2-18, along with wrapping paper, tape and ribbon for families in struggling financially right here in Hastings-on-Hudson & Dobbs Ferry. Help us enable some of our own neighbors to be “the givers”. When toys, books and wrapping paper are collected our community outreach partners Bill and Jenny will help our sponsored families (and additional families in need, too), find just the right gifts to wrap up, and take home for their kids. Our mission is clear….instead of arriving from an anonymous donor, your gift enables mom and dad to be the “giver” and experience the joy of giving! Please drop your gifts and wrapping supplies off: 6 Circle Drive, Hastings. Leave inside/outside basement door down the driveway, please. When : Anytime…just drop off your gifts!!!
For more information about Family-to-Family, please visit our website: http://www.family-to-family.org.

WJCS Working to Grant Wishes Again This Holiday Season
For its annual Have-a-Heart for the Holidays Gift Drive Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS) is collecting toys, CDs, gift cards and clothing to be distributed to consumers at the agency’s 70-plus programs throughout Westchester. Last year, more than 1,000 wishes were fulfilled. The agency’s goal this year is to reach out to even more of its consumers. Anyone interested in providing a gift or contributing to the Have-a-Heart for the Holidays Gift Drive can contact Meryl Lewis at 761-0600, ext. 222. Donations can also be made on line at www.wjcs.com.

Having a Fundraiser or know of one? Email us at info@RivertownsGuide.com.

Did you Know? In addition to our Home Page Weekend Listings, events throughout the Rivertowns and Westchester are listed on the Local Events Page http://www.rivertownsguide.com/20localevents.php and the What’s Happening Page http://www.rivertownsguide.com/01whatshap.php. Take a look….

New Rivertowns Art Academy
Now open at 145 Palisades Street in Dobbs Ferry: Art Academy of Westchester
http://www.artacademyofwestchester.com/ Art Classes for Adults and kids 9+, and a Gallery Space. See listing above about the Opening Reception on December 5.

Promote Your Event FREE. . . . .
Reminder: You can post your events on (and join!) our TWO Facebook pages.
RTG Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/RivertownsGuide
RTG Group Page:

What else do we do?
744 Creative | Marketing + Design http://www.744creative.com/
Since we have been so busy working on RivertownsGuide and on all of our other projects, we haven't had a chance to update our own 744 Creative portfolio site in a while. Some recent work includes: Taiim Falafel Shack in Hastings (identity + design + marketing http://www.taiimfalafelshack.com); Take Me to the River: Grass Roots Music and Art Festival 2010; Aquefest 2010; Shira Adler http://shiraadler.com; Hastings Friday Night Live (identity + design + marketing); Dobbs Ferry Fest (identity + design); just to name a few of our more visible projects. From launching a new business to sprucing up an identity, from websites to printed materials, if your business has Marketing + Design needs, give us a call. 914/478-4445

Have an Event / Business that you would like listed at no charge?
Just email jennifer@rivertownsguide.com the details……..

Was this email forwarded to you? If you’d like to be added to our email list, send us an Email and write EMAIL LIST in the subject line.

If you would like to be removed from this email list, please reply to this email and write OPT OUT in the subject line.
Saturday 11 to Sunday 19

Model train exhibit: “Trains –Your Ticket to the Great Outdoors” present by the Westchester Model Railroad Club at the Greenburgh Nature Center in Scarsdale. Call 723-3470 or visit www.greenburghnaturecenter.org.

Saturday 11

Pre-Count Birding: At 8 a.m. help find the places birds have settled in for the winter at Teatown Lake Reservation in Ossining. Call 762-2912, ext. 110 or visit www.teatown.org.

Christmas Festival: Enjoy ginger bread house decorating, caroling and tasty treats from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Tarrytown, 56 S. Broadway. Call 631-6372.

Winter on the Farm Weekend : From 10 a.m. celebrate winter with gifts from the holiday vendor fair, refreshments, hands-on-crafts and more at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills. The farm market will be open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Call 366-6200, ext. 112 or visit www.stonebarnscenter.org. Also Dec. 12.

“Frog and Toad”: Performed by the Clocktower Players Kids Troupe at 12:30 p.m. at the Irvington Town Hall Theater. Call 591-6602 or visit www.IrvingtonTheater.com. Also Dec. 12.

Raptor Roundup: At 1 p.m. stroll around the Wildlife Loop to learn about raptors at Teatown Lake Reservation in Ossining. Call 762-2912, ext. 110 or visit www.teatown.org.

Winter Open House and Performance: Presented at 1 p.m. by Y Dance and Evolve Dance at the Family YMCA in Tarrytown. Call 631-4807, ext. 32.

Evening Candlelight Tours: From 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. enjoy excerpts from Washington Irving’s Christmas tales and family letters plus singing and hot cider at Sunnyside in Tarrytown. Call 631-8200 or visit www.hudsonvalley.org. Also Dec. 18 & 26.

Open Mic: Hosted by musician/comic Jim Cirrin at 6 p.m. at the Black Cat Café in Irvington. Call 231-9060 or visit www.blackcatchef.com.

Concert: The Chords will sing at 8 p.m. at the Tarrytown Music Hall. Call 877-840-0457 or visit www.tarrytownmusichall.org.

Concert: The Subdudes will perform at 8 p.m. at Irvington Town Hall Theater. Call 591-6602 or visit www.IrvingtonTheater.com.

Sunday 12

The Great Westchester Toy & Train Show: From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. Call 995-4050 or visit www.westchestertoytrain.com.

Indoor Farmers Market: From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. Call 995-4050.

Animal Adventures: At 1 p.m. learn about one animal’s natural history and ecological connections at Teatown Lake Reservation in Ossining. Call 762-2912, ext. 110 or visit www.teatown.org.

Concert: Sutton Foster will sing at 7:30 p.m. at Irvington Town Hall Theater. Call 591-6602 or visit www.IrvingtonTheater.co

Thursday, December 09, 2010

holiday lights donated...toy drive...logs to be removed...new supermarket to start construction...court revenues

E HARTSDALE AVE HOLIDAY LIGHTS--Westchester Greenhouse will be donating 15 wreaths with bows & lights to decorate E Hartsdale Ave. The lights should be installed on telephone poles by this weekend. We appreciate the donation! Sarah Bracey White, who heads our arts & culture committee, is organizing volunteers to bring some more holiday spirit to the avenue. Attractive ribbons will also be placed on the poles.

Christ Temple is organizing a toy drive, clothing drive for the homeless and for those who are less fortunate in the community. Please call 914 948 4596. The church is located at 25 Oak Street, White Plains (off Manhattan Ave). The church is looking for new toys/clothing and gifts will be tax deductible.

LOG PILE UPDATE (SPRAIN/DOBBS FERRY ROAD)---I received a letter from William Gordon, Acting Regional Director for the NYS Department of Transportation today regarding the logs that are stored on NYS Department of Transportation property along Sprain Brook Parkway. This debris was generated as a result of the storms late last winter that brought down many trees. According to Mr. Gordon “we are in the process of having a contract approved to remove the logs. Therefore, a meeting with state lawmakers will not be necessary. Hopefully, our contract will be approved in the near future and the work can be completed early this winter.” I had asked for a meeting with elected officials, NYS DOT representatives and the town. I have been working with Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins on this matter and want to also thank her for her efforts.

HEARING: JANUARY 12 –STOP & SHOP ON 119… the Town Board has scheduled a hearing for 8:30 PM on January 12th to consider an application by the White Hickory Associates for an amended site plan and special permit. Construction of the new Stop & Shop supermarket could begin during the first quarter of 2011 – the new supermarket would open in 2012.

FRANKIE & FANUCCI TO EXPAND ON E HARTSDALE AVE—Frankie & Fanucci is seeking permission to expand their restaurant on E Hartsdale Ave. A hearing has been set for 8:30 PM on December 15th at Greenburgh Town Hall.

REVENUES ARE UP IN THE COURT: Regina Hill started her job as Court Administrator for the town a few months ago. Revenues in the court have gone up significantly. See below
September $89,213.55
October $142,449.40
November, $165,430.35

Shoprite at the Midway Shopping Center is scheduled to open on January 5, 2011 (Ardsley Road/Central Ave)

Greenburgh Town Supervisor

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

burglary arrest in edgemont...pet adoptions/open house





TEL: (914) 682-5300

FAX: (914) 949-7116

DATE: 12/7/2010 INCIDENT: Burglary Arrest.

On Monday December 6, 2010 Greenburgh Detectives arrested Robert Ketzler of 16 Warnke Lane Scarsdale NY Age 18 and charged him with two counts of Burglary in the Second Degree a Class C Felony. The burglaries occurred on November 30, 2010 on Pheasant Run and Andrea Lane. On Tuesday December 7, 2010 Charles McCarthy of 300 South Central Avenue Hartsdale NY Age 19 surrendered with his attorney to Greenburgh Detectives and was charged with one count of Burglary in the Second Degree. McCarthy was charged with the Andrea Lane burglary.

It should be noted that the defendants are charged with committing the above burglaries during the overnight hours, while the residents were home. These arrests stem from an ongoing investigation into residential burglaries in the Edgemont Section of this Township. Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Greenburgh Detectives at 914-682-5331.

Captain Chris McNerney


Adoptable Cats Meet & Greet

12:00PM - 03:00PM Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pets Alive (formerly Elmsford Animal Shelter) is having an open house on Saturday, December 11 from 12 noon to 4 PM. They are the largest no kill animal shelter in Westchester and are home to 300 dogs and 500 cats. Petsalive.org.

Sunday, December 05, 2010



TOWN HAS RECEIVED $1.2 million a year...we need the revenue

Last month Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino announced plans to close down the 108 unit WESTHELP facility in September, 2011. WESTHELP currently provides transitional housing to the homeless. The facility was built by Andrew Cuomo in the late 1980s.

The town has been receiving $1.2 million dollars in revenue each year from the property. If the Westchester County Board of Legislators supports the County Executive's recommendations to close down the shelter the town will lose the $1.2 million revenue UNLESS we find another use for the property.

At the Town Board meeting on Wednesday night we will approve a resolution authorizing RFPS for the development of the six acre parcel. The buildings are well maintained, don't look like homeless shelters (looks more like luxury condo's). These are some of the suggestions we have received so far for the property:


ASSISTED LIVING/SENIOR HOUSING (there are two floors so some of the units could be used for other housing purposes... Unlike most assisted living facilities we could provide assisted living housing at more affordable rates.



The Town Board will review each of the proposals we receive. We will also be meeting with the Mayfair-Knollwood civic association and will share with them the various options that are submitted to us.


Greenburgh Town Supervisor





The Town of Greenburgh will be considering applications for the development or re-development of a six-acre parcel of land within the Town, including the construction and/or operation of facilities thereon, located on the east side of Knollwood Road (Route 100A) at the Knollwood Gate entrance to Westchester Community College, for a period of approximately 30 years.

A. General Information

The subject property is currently being subleased by the Town to a homeless housing nonprofit organization known as “WestHELP” which provides emergency homeless housing and related services to families with young children. WestHELP currently operates a 108 unit facility comprising a portion of Sheet 18, Parcel 128 of the Assessment Map of the Town, formerly known as “Hartford Estate”, pursuant to a ten year Sublease Agreement with the Town which is scheduled to expire on September 30, 2011. The subject property, is owned by the County of Westchester but controlled by the Town until approximately September 30, 2041, pursuant to Masterlease Agreement with the County.

The subject property is located between Knollwood Road to the west, Hillside Avenue (Route 100B) to the east, Hartford Lane and Payne Road to the north, and Old Tarrytown Road to the south. A portion of the site is currently developed and is zoned as Residential (R-30), although the Town would consider proposals that include applications to rezone the property.

The current facility operated at the Site was designed and built to make the same suitable for use as permanent housing and includes off-site improvements reasonably necessary for the operation of the facility (i.e. roads, utilities etc.). Additionally, although the Masterlease Agreement between the Town and the County of Westchester contemplates a use of the property for rental housing at the end of the WestHELP lease term (including, but not limited to, housing for senior citizens and municipal employees), as previously mentioned, the Town would consider proposals and applications for an alternative use.

B. Information to be Provided

The Town Board invites proposed property developers and/or operators, or representatives on their behalf, to provide information as to the firm’s qualifications and experience in developing properties and/or operating facilities related to municipal owned properties. Listed below are areas of specific importance that should be addressed; however, responders are encouraged to provide any additional information that would assist the Board in making their selection:

- The years of experience your company or firm has in developing properties.

- The years of experience in providing services to local New York municipal governments.

- The size of the firm’s practice, the names, education and experience of the partner(s) or principals and primary staff that would be developing the property or operating the facility.

- A brief narrative of the services that have been provided to private or municipal clients over the last five years.

- A list of at least three municipalities that your firm is currently developing properties in, operating facilities at, or providing services to, including the name of the municipality, number of years operating and the name of a contact person and their telephone number.

- The rate structure or fees charged for services provided if any.

Please provide the above information by January 21, 2011. The Town Board will select a principal from firms that respond to this request.

Please forward your response to:


Town Attorney

Town of Greenburgh

177 Hillside Avenue

Greenburgh, NY 10607

Via fax at 914-993-1656, email at tlewis@greenburghny.com or first class mail.

If you have any questions or need any additional information, please contact the Town Attorney at 914-993-1546.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

pay your parking tickets on line!...holiday parties Saturday at town hall 5 PM...

I am pleased to report that residents can now pay their parking tickets on line and by credit card! The following is the link to the site.


Welcome to the Parking Ticket Payment System for the
Town of Greenburgh, New York

ParkingTicketPayment.com is a service being offered in conjunction with the Town of Greenburgh. This service will allow you the convenience of paying any current and/or outstanding parking tickets issued by the Town of Greenburgh over a secure web site with most major credit cards. Once payments are processed through ParkingTicketPayment.com, records at the Town of Greenburgh will be updated accordingly, in real-time, and your parking tickets will be marked as paid.

In order to offer you this service, you must agree to the following User Agreement. Please note that a flat rate convenience fee of $3.50 will be charged per ticket paid through ParkingTicketPayment.com.

You must agree to the terms and conditions in the User Agreement then click the button below:

ParkingTicketPayment.com is wholly owned by Parking Ticket Payment, LLC, which is an entity separate from the Town of Greenburgh. ParkingTicketPayment.com is not affiliated with the Town of Greenburgh other than to provide the ParkingTicketPayment.com service as a means to accept online payments for unpaid parking tickets. Any technical issues regarding the use of ParkingTicketPayment.com should be addressed to the webmaster@parkingticketpayment.com. Parking Ticket Payment, LLC is not responsible for handling ticket inquiries or disputes. These issues are to be directed to the Town of Greenburgh. Parking Ticket Payment, LLC values the privacy of the ParkingTicketPayment.com users. ParkingTicketPayment.com does not store or share any user information with any third parties. The ParkingTicketPayment.com web site does not use cookies and provides a connection secured with the latest SSL technology to ensure the safety of transactions processed through this site. By agreeing to the terms and conditions, you acknowledge that you will be charged a flat rate convenience fee of $3.50 per ticket paid through ParkingTicketPayment.com which will be included in the amount charged to your credit card by the Town of Greenburgh. You also acknowledge that neither the Town of Greenburgh, nor Parking Ticket Payment, LLC is responsible for any transactions initiated by you, the user, through the ParkingTicketPayment.com web site.

I agree to the terms and conditions in the User Agreement.
I do not agree to the terms and conditions in the User Agreement.

NOTE: ParkingTicketPayment.com will be unavailable daily between 12 a.m. midnight and 2 a.m. EST for scheduled maintenance.



Special Event Announcement

Scholarship Benefit

The North Elmsford Civic Association and the Theodore D. Young Community Center

Presents: THE MESSIAH by Handel

Performed by: The Convent Avenue Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir

And the Sugar Hill; Orchestra of NYC

Saturday, December 4th , 2010 @ 4:00pm

Place: Theodore D. Young Community Center

32 Manhattan Avenue, White Plains, {Greenburgh}, NY 10607

General Admission for Adults $25.00

Fr information please call Mrs. Cynthia Brown 914-592-4379 or Mr. Lee Trollinger 914-989-3631

Sunday, November 28, 2010

what do you think? Should library budgets be approved by voters? should there be an independent library district for town/villages? TZ BRIDGE future..

Many communities in NYS have independent library districts. The voters elect the members of the Library Board and approve the library budget. The library is independent of town government and town politics.
Should the Greenburgh Library become an independent district? TO REDUCE COSTS AND INCREASE EFFICIENCIES - should the five village libraries within Greenburgh and the Greenburgh Library join forces and create one independent library district for unincorporated Greenburgh and the villages (the voters would elect the Trustees and approve proposed budgets)? The town cannot unilaterally create a town-wide library district. This would require village/town support.
If a Greenburgh library district is established and if the district would include the villages and unincorporated sections of town there could be better coordination of library hours (different libraries could be open on different weekends or evenings and a schedule could be posted when each of the libraries are open). We could maintain high quality services, even if there are future budget cuts (NYS is considering a law that would limit future town/village/school/fire district tax increases). Staff could also be moved around to the satellite libraries -- depending on needs. The five village libraries and library in the unincorporated section of town would also coordinate book/video purchases and budgets--possibly saving some money.
I would appreciate your feedback on this suggestion. Please e mail me at pfeiner@greenburghny.com. Last week I wrote to the library boards in each of the villages asking for their feedback. I will be meeting with the Greenburgh Library Board this week to discuss.

Please read the following article in today's Tarrytown Patch about the future of the TZ bridge. The article speculates that there could be tolls on the Bronx River Parkway and Sprain Parkway --down the line. The town will continue to monitor the future of the TZ Bridge and will keep you informed if new tolls are ever seriously discussed by other levels of government.
Ravitch: No Money to Bridge Funding Gap for Tappan Zee Replacement
Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch says the state can't afford a proposed $16 billion replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge. In a new report he recommends new tolls, taxes and fees to raise the money.

By Dan Wiessner | Email the author | 5:
Replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge should be a top priority for the state, but the volatile economy has left New York unable to afford the massive project, according to a new report.

Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch, a former MTA chairman and an outspoken member of Gov. David Paterson's administration, said that the state must look to new sources of funding, including tolls and taxes.

"New York State currently lacks the revenues necessary to maintain its transportation system in a state of good repair, and the state has no credible strategy for meeting future needs," Ravitch said in the 14-page report.
"The development and phase-in of a coordinated regional tolling strategy that includes all key bridges and statewide roads, especially the parkway system, could provide funds for projects like the Tappan Zee Bridge."

That could mean new tolls on the currently free-for-all Sprain Brook, Bronx River and Taconic Parkways, as well as an increase to the $5 toll on the southbound side of the Tappan Zee.

State officials began discussing a replacement for the span, which was built to last for 50 years and is now 55 years old, in 1998. But it was only in 2008 that officials released a vision for the new bridge, a $16 billion project that would include lanes reserved for an express bus line from Suffern to Port Chester and high-speed commuter trains that would run from the upper Hudson Valley to Grand Central.

Last month, the group appointed to oversee the design of the new bridge announced it had narrowed down a number of proposals to two distinct plans. One would see the construction of a double-decker bridge, with the lower deck carrying trains. The second plan is to build a wider bridge with train tracks running down the middle.

Both designs allow for the construction of a new span that would include space for high-speed rail to be built in the future, instead of forcing the state to pay for the entire project at once.

But the recent forward momentum of the development process has been blunted by a complete lack of funding for the bridge and little consensus on sources for the billions of dollars. After closing most of a $9 billion deficit this year, state officials are facing up to $45 billion in budget gaps over the next three years.

The fiscal woes have created uncertainty for the state Department of Transportation, the agency leading the Tappan Zee project. The department's five-year, $26 billion capital budget was slashed this year to a two-year, $7 billion plan. A spokeswoman for the DOT did not return calls seeking comment.

Harriet Cornell, the chair of the Rockland County Board of Legislators, has been heavily involved with the ongoing plans for most of this decade. She said the taboo subject of financing has never been properly discussed.

"So much time has gone into planning for commuter rail that may never come to pass because of its enormous expense," Cornell said. "There really needed to be a better recognition of the realities, not only in this current economic climate, but of the limited resources even five or eight years ago."

Cornell added, "We have had hints about where the funding might come from, but none of it," including tolls, taxes and higher registration fees, "is very palatable and no real plan has been put forth."

On the same day as Ravitch released his report, Gov. Paterson told a radio news host that the state was looking across the Hudson to New Jersey for help in replacing the "decaying" bridge.

"Because it's going to cost $10 to $14 billion to [replace] it, if we designated the Port Authority lines north, that might be a deal that New Jersey is interested in," Paterson said, referring to the jurisdiction of the Port Authority, a bi-state agency that oversees a number of bridges and tunnels.

"If both states shared on the resources, it could get done. Time is running out [and] before there's a major catastrophe, I would think we would want to do this."

The office of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did not return calls seeking comment. The cost-cutting Republican freshman recently rejected $3 billion in federal funding for a high-speed rail project while voicing support for a proposed extension of the New York City subway to Seacaucus.

State officials also are hoping to secure federal funding for the project, but no specific grants have been announced. President Obama is pushing for a $50 billion investment in infrastructure projects, though it's still not clear how Republican control of the House of Representatives will affect the proposal.

Phil Ferguson, the finance manager for the Tappan Zee project, recently acknowledged that the state will have to cobble together funds from a number of sources.

"There will need to be multiple funding resources," Ferguson said at an October forum hosted by Cornell, the Rockland Board of Legislators chair. "There's no single source that can pay for the whole thing. It's unrealistic to think we can get 100 percent federal funding for project. We have a lot of challenges ahead of us."

While the state scrambles to find funding for the Tappan Zee replacement, it's pouring millions into ongoing repairs on the existing span. A project that began in 2007 will see 28 percent of the metal plates, or decks, that make up the bridge be replaced by the winter of 2012. The state has already spent nearly $250 million on the repairs, according to the Thruway Authority.

Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo, who toured the bridge earlier this month, said that the repairs are necessary for the existing bridge, which will likely be carrying cars for another decade and possibly longer.

"Even if you decided tomorrow that you were going to build a replacement bridge, you would still need to keep this bridge safe for a number of years," Cuomo said. "So it's really not 'either/or' [replace or repair] at this point. You're going to have to repair and that's what they're in the midst of doing now."

The Tappan Zee was designed to carry fewer than 100,000 cars per day, but routinely handles more than 150,000 now. The bridge was built in the early 1950s during the Korean War, and a shortage in building materials meant that a sturdier bridge couldn't be built. The George Washington Bridge, for example, opened in 1931 and was designed to last 150 years.

According to state inspections of the Tappan Zee Bridge, one of the biggest structural issues is the deterioration of the wooden pilings, which are beams submerged in the Hudson River that hold up the bridge. The pilings have been eroded by the water, expanded and contracted by extreme weather and chewed into by waterborne worms.

Cornell said she'd like to see continued input by citizens and municipal officials to ensure that the mega-project is on the right track.

"Some individuals have played a very active role in preventing adverse impact on their communities and the environment," she said.

"There has to be a better way of working together on these important regional projects. It's very disappointing to see that the metro region does not have a better and more useful transportation system."

Officials working on the replacement project are expected to announce the final design sometime in the spring of 2011.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

celebrate art website...home composting of leaves update

Celebrate Art Website: http://www.celebrateartproject.com/

If you're an artist and want your art work displayed on a banner in E Hartsdale Ave this spring (lots of great visibility) please take a look at the celebrateartproject.com website. It's going to be an amazing art initiative that will help promote E Hartsdale Ave.. Tracy Allan is organizing the effort.
Celebrate Art - Greenburgh


From: Raymond L. Rigoglioso

Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 2010 11:33 AM
To: Paul Feiner

Hi Paul. I’ve asked my landscaper to begin composting leaves, and it’s a no-brainer. He mulches them by running the lawnmower over the leaves a couple of times, and they disappear into the lawn. We have no pile of leaves at the curb, and our lawn looks great. It will pay off next year too as our soil will become richer.

That would be my vote.

--Ray Rigoglioso

White Plains, 10607

Earlier this week I sent out an e mail requesting feedback on a proposal to mandate home composting of leaves. Could save the town a few hundred thousand dollars a year--maybe more! The response I received from most people ---they did not like the idea of mandating home composting. As a result of the feedback I have received I think the next step should be to educate and encourage people to voluntarily compost. If you would like to learn more about home composting and help us prove the benefits of home composting, please e mail me at pfeiner@greenburghny.com. The following was prepared by Mark Gilliland.
There are two basic methods to talk about based upon this email. One deals with the practice of composting, the other deals with the practice of mulching.

Composting is a slow process in that it can take months for leaves to decompose. The larger the pile, typically, the faster the center decomposes (although there may be leaves which simply take forever to decompose...) Slow decomposition could be an indication of anaerobic conditions (not enough oxygen). To solve this, the pile needs to be periodically turned and aerated. Another factor which slows down decomposition is an imbalanced mix of green (grass clippings, plant cuttings) and brown (fall leaves, newspaper, straw) - the green adds nitrogen (food, nutrients) for use by the microorganisms in the pile. Piles should be a least 4'x4'x4' to achieve enough heat in the center to really get active. Also, compost piles often need a "starter culture" (microbial inoculation) to get really active.

This and more composting "trouble shooting" info is available through Cornell Cooperative Extension.

However, composting really can only be done at a certain limited scale in a homeowner's back yard. Imagine a yard with a 3 bin composter. This would hold around 192 cubic feet of leaves (say 200). Even if compressed a bit, this is still a limited volume. Its equivalent to 768 square feet of leaves 3" deep - or an area 20'x40' at 3" deep. Needless to say, many yards have more sq footage and more leaves annually than this.

This is where mulching comes in handy - a mulching mower or a leaf shredder can reduce leaf volume up to 10:1 (typically around 8:1). That is done mainly by making much smaller pieces which compact together closer and thus take less volume but provide more surface area and capillary space (for oxygen and water). This is why mulched (shredded) leaves will compost MUCH MUCH faster if paced into a compost pile. Also why shredded leaves make such a useful and healthy garden bed mulch.

One other note: the organic materials in leaves do not need to be released as CO2 gas to be effectively decomposed. Rather, much of the material stays in the organic form of humus (a rich textured soil with nutrients, air, water - and in the case of composted humus, full of beneficial bacterial and symbiotic fungus). Thus composting and mulching in place help feed and build soil quality.

In most cases, the yearly "build up" of soil created by adding leaf mulch or compost to landscape beds - or top dressing of lawns with 2" fine compost - will not be significant. This practice has been use by gardeners and landscapers for years and years to help "refresh" the soil nutrients and fix the tilthe (texture, air & water holding qualities).

Have a happy and healthy thanksgiving.


Sunday, November 21, 2010


The Greenburgh Town Board will hold our first public hearing on the 2011 town budget tomorrow evening (Monday). The meeting starts at 7:30 PM.
This could save taxpayers money -and help our environment. What do you think? PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING LETTER FROM MARK GILLILAND.

November 19, 2010

Dear Supervisor Feiner,

Fall leaves are a valuable natural resource that most homeowners let go to waste by having them blown into piles on the street, or raked into brown bags stacked curb-side, left for Town (DPW) vacuuming and pickup. Leaf collection, hauling, and disposal are a huge annual cost estimated to range between $350K to $400K* for Greenburgh alone. (*Includes equipment, labor, fuel and tipping costs.)

In addition, the nutrients in the leaves are lost instead of being returned to nourish the soil, the grass and the plants that grow on a homeowner’s property. Instead, leaves piles blown into the street often clog storm drains and cause excess phosphorus runoff into our nearby rivers.

The Solution? Love ’Em and Leave ’Em! (LELE)

The best thing a homeowner or property manager can do with leaves is to leave them on your property! You can:

• Shred them with a lawn mower and leave them in place on your lawn.

• Compost them in a pile or container (with or without shredding first).

• Shred them and use them as mulch on your borders and flowerbeds.

The Benefits?

Save money: Help keep taxes down due to reduced pickup requirements. Reduce need for commercial fertilizers, and never buy mulch again.

Save effort: Most homeowners (and landscapers) find that mulching leaves in place is easier and faster than raking or blowing them to the curb.

Help keep your property healthy: Leaf mulch recycles nutrients into your soil and helps retain moisture, reducing the need for watering in dry spells.

Help the planet: Transporting and disposing of leaves from your curb wastes energy and contributes to pollution.

The Plan?

The Town can encourage this LELE practice through education and outreach while slowly reducing its support of leaf pickup processing. Steps include:

1) Set a LELE leaf pick-up reduction goal for the town. (For example, 20% year 1, 40% year 2, 60% year 3, 80% year 4.)

2) Develop a public educational outreach effort to explain LELE practices & benefits. (Include media outreach.)

3) Provide workshop training for Landscape Business owners and their staff in the cost savings, techniques and marketing of LELE.

4) Train town staff (DPW, Parks Department) on LELE program.

5) Monitor effectiveness of program yearly to determine cost savings and implement matching budget reductions related to this.

The costs of educational outreach might best be shared between the villages and the town as many of the same Landscape Business owners and crews serve both constituents. The Greenburgh Nature Center and it’s inter-municipal Greenburgh Environmental Forum (GEF) would be an effective and reasonable conduit for co-ordination concerning any shared LELE educational initiatives. The GNC could help develop, promote and present educational outreach programs including “how to” demos for homeowners, Landscape Business owners and their work crews.

Mulching-in-place and composting leaves on-site are practices that could potentially save both the homeowner and the town a great deal of money, time and effort – helping to keep one’s property healthier, to protect the environment, and to reduce annual budget expenses (thus helping to keep taxes down, as well). It’s a win-win-win situation for all!

For more detailed information about mulching-in-place and composting of leaves, please visit www.irvingtonny.gov/green.

I (and the rest of the Irvington GPTF leaf sub-committee) look forward to discussing this initiative and how it will help save money in the town’s upcoming budget.


Mark Gilliland

The Irvington Green Policy Task Force

CC: Greenburgh Town Council