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Survey Shows Westchester CEOs More Optimistic About Economy Than Upstate CEOs PDF Print Email

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By Dean Bender, Thompson & Bender

Feb. 19, 2020: Westchester CEO’s are decidedly more optimistic about the economy than Upstate CEOs, according to the Annual New York State Business Leaders Survey released by The Business Council of Westchester with Siena College Research Institute and The Business Council of New York State.

The new survey reveals how CEOs are feeling about the business climate, regulatory environment, the economy, growth, and capital investment plans for the next few years. Nearly 670 CEO’s participated statewide with nearly 100 from Westchester County.

Here are some highlights from Westchester CEOs:

  • 25% believe 2020 will be better economically
  • 44% have plans to increase their workforce
  • 63% expect revenue to grow, the highest of any region surveyed
  • 52% forecast increased profitability
  • 54% rated the workforce good/excellent
  • Westchester’s Index of Business Confidence was 87.5, the highest of the nine regions surveyed and ten points higher than the statewide average of 75.3
  • Top challenges are government regulation (53%), healthcare costs (43%), adverse economic conditions (43%) and taxation at (40%)
  • Westchester CEO’s believe medical is the top industry sector anticipated to have the most positive impact on economic vitality over the next 3-5 years
  • Top issues CEO’s would like to see the Governor/Legislature focus on are personal income tax reform (53%), infrastructure development (52%), business development incentive (52%) and business income tax reform (46%)

The Business Council of Westchester has formed a partnership with the Siena College Research Institute and the Business Council of New York State, Inc to gather insight from CEO’s statewide on the state’s business climate.

Click here to read more about the survey.


Photo courtesy Thompson & Bender


Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

 

 

 

 

 
From The Mayor: Let There Be Light and Safety/Traffic Initiatives PDF Print Email

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By Mary Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville

Oct. 30, 2019:  Let there be light! As daylight savings time fast approaches, we at Village Hall are concentrating on illuminating some dark pockets throughout the Village. Chief among the locations is the area contiguous with the northbound arrivals side of the Metro-North station. With a projected installation date of November 15, we will be adding single and double teardrop lights in the vicinity of Lake Avenue, Westbourne, and at the Palmer Avenue crosswalk.

One quite diseased tree will need to be removed in the process. Thanks to the generosity of the Boulder Ledge Garden Club, it will be replaced with an upward growing elm that will not block any vistas.

Similar teardrop fixtures will also be added at the Midland Avenue/Pondfield Road intersection, our busiest in the Village. Added teardrop fixtures will be installed on Sagamore Road adjacent to the Eliza Corwin Frost Nursery School and at the crest of Sagamore Road near the entrance to Bacon Woods Park. Parts from several globe lights in that vicinity will be cannibalized for parts to replace some of the more dilapidated globe structures throughout the Village. You will see areas of ground prep work in the coming days to facilitate the electrical hookups.

Again the result of an accident, we have accelerated our upgrade of the intersection of Midland Avenue and Crows Nest/Masterton Road. Currently, we have orange cones and painted demarcation to test a proposed configuration as designed by our traffic engineer in consult with our Police Department. The end result will be an attractive island with appropriately placed stop signs as well as a road narrowing to facilitate decreased speed. Rather than building the island and then needing to jackhammer, should traffic patterns, resident input, and police observation suggest modification, we are employing the same cone and paint method we employed at the Kensington and Sagamore Road intersection which changed in shape and size from the temporary configuration.

These are the first of many other safety /traffic initiatives to be rolled out per the guidance of our Village Comprehensive Plan initiative.  We have accelerated the timeframe in some locations due to damage or disrepair of existing equipment.

One such example is the intersection of Meadow and Kraft Avenues near St. Joseph’s School. Our now non-conforming light re: Federal and New York State standards, has reached the end of its long life and continued malfunction has necessitated the needed upgrade. You will soon see a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) instead of a light at the location. When a button is pressed, the beacon will flash alerting drivers to stop.

Before this change, the light stayed 95% green all the time, which became the norm for most drivers on this route. This expectation lulled drivers and created a false sense of security for walkers who assumed drivers were alert for the very occasional red light and would automatically stop. Adding to the confusion, the light was located mid-block, not at all an expected location. Of added importance, the light did not conform to any safety standards, thus affecting Village liability going forward. In concert with the intersection change, the Village will also upgrade the crosswalk to further increase pedestrian visibility.  If any pedestrian prefers a different crossing configuration, the Cedar Street/Kraft Avenue, just 100 feet away, is an optimal alternative.

In the past year, the Trustees have made a priority effort, in concert with Police Department, to add crosswalks throughout the Village to encourage walkability. One such location was at Midland Avenue and Sycamore Street. We are in the process of evaluating other intersections, chief among them is at Avon Road and Park Avenue. We have also lobbied the State Department of Transportation (DOT) and understand that our request for a signalized crosswalk at Pondfield Road and Route 22 has been approved and part of their next capital plan. At this juncture, we are not privy to a time frame.

Currently, we have installed six solar speeding/caution signs, have more on order, and plan to add more in the upcoming budget process. Our Police Department, with constant monitoring, believes the signs have contributed to speed decrease. The sign, soon to arrive, will be placed near Midland Avenue and Masterton Road on the northbound side.

With advice from Chief Satriale, the Trustees approved an overtime budget that addresses issues that have long frustrated residents and trustees alike. Included not surprisingly is double yellow line crossing and speeding in residential neighborhoods. The issuance of tickets for these violations results in 95% of the funds going directly to state coffers. Net net the only and best benefit is safety in the Village.

When all this work is completed, our next focus will be on the intersection of Kraft Avenue and Park Place. Stay tuned.

 

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.




 
From the Mayor: Village Comprehensive Plan Is Both an Aspirational Document and a Working Template PDF Print Email

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By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville

Jul. 10, 2019:  The trustees and I continue to finalize our 2019 comprehensive plan. Though sounding innocuous like a document headed for a bookcase shelf, it is actually a very important instrument for village governance. This will be the sixth community plan for Bronxville: the village’s first overall plan was adopted in 1971 and subsequently reviewed in 1980, 1992, 1997, 2002, and 2009. The plan actually fulfills a statutory obligation so wisely placed in our village code by our prior governing boards.

Essentially, experts in planning, design, traffic, and development are hired under one umbrella firm to look at the village from 30,000 feet and assess whether we are achieving optimal aspirations for the village.

In essence, the overall goal of the plan as envisioned is to:

  • Preserve and promote the special architectural character and appearance of existing buildings and neighborhoods.
  • Maintain the natural landscape of the village.
  • Retain the pedestrian scale of buildings, streets, and open spaces that currently exist.
  • Encourage land uses that are appropriate to the existing pattern of development and that will help ensure the economic stability of the whole community.
  • Mitigate the impacts of flooding on residential and commercial properties within the village. 

The subcategories needing review to preserve the village character include:

Residential Areas 

  • Preserve the quality and character of existing single-family residential zones.
  • Retain the roughly even balance between single-family and multi-family units.
  • Achieve the appropriate balance in regulation to ensure that new construction and large renovations maintain a reasonable scale in relation to lot size.

Transportation and Parking

  • Promote policies to help ensure convenient and safe traffic flow on the village street network.
  • Ensure adequate public transportation services, particularly for residents without access to private automobiles.
  • Enhance pedestrian safety throughout the village and create opportunities for alternative vehicles where possible.
  • Ensure an adequate supply of parking for commuters, shoppers, merchants, and other visitors to the central business district (CBD) consistent with the residential character of the village.

Commercial Uses

  • Maintain the "village" character of the CBD through careful control of land uses, storefronts, and signage; adequate building maintenance; and ongoing streetscape improvements.
  • Maintain and improve the mix of retail stores, services, and other commercial uses that are geared to the needs of local residents and those in adjoining communities.
  • Ensure that any new development is related in scale and character to the existing buildings within the CBD.

Open Space and Recreation

  • Preserve and enhance existing public open space areas with special attention to seating and landscape improvements, including along village streets, parking lots, and the Metro-North plaza area.
  • Encourage continued use of natural landscape elements within existing development.
  • Ensure high-quality maintenance of existing recreation facilities. 

Community Facilities

  • Maintain high-quality services and facilities for village residents.
  • Ensure efficient use and maintenance of public services provided by the police department and the department of public works. 

Tax Base 

  • Achieve fiscal savings without sacrificing existing high-quality village services.
  • Maintain balance between user fees and the costs of providing services.
  • Preserve the commercial property tax base in the CBD.
  • Conduct regular revaluation updates as needed to ensure that assessed property values are consistent with real estate values and other conditions.
  • Enforce regular assessment updates of individual properties to reflect any improvements that may change their assessed value.

As an illustration of how the plan will guide changes in village codes and policies, the planning and zoning realms provide specific examples. 

Even just during the course of the comprehensive planning process, the village board of trustees adopted Local Law 1-2019 to amend Chapter 112, Building Construction Regarding Demolition Permits in response to concerns over “teardowns” of vulnerable historic homes. Through stakeholder engagement, members of village boards and committees, and the public, it was clear that there was a need to address the issue of homes being torn down with larger homes, sometimes out of context with the neighborhood, being built on-site.

Local Law 1-2019 places additional constraints on demolitions as a “circuit breaker” that provides the village with tools to encourage construction that is historically contextual and proportional to lot size. 

After our comprehensive plan review, it is now clear that the definition of floor area ratio (FAR) components needs to be examined. These include how basements and attics are included in FAR calculation. In the same vein, our zoning code could enact new provisions to better maintain the proportionate ratio between homes and lot sizes without infringing on residents’ ability to make reasonable modifications. In addition, home renovations projects are now lasting for long stretches, negatively impacting the quality of life in neighborhoods. Rules on the length of permits, contractor parking, and road damage will need to be considered.

The comprehensive plan not only serves as an aspirational document but as a working template to jumpstart changes in policies and procedures in order to maintain the character of the village for future generations.

Pictured here: Mayor Mary Marvin.

Photo by N. Bower

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff


 
From the Mayor: Report on New York State from the Mayors' Conference; Legalization of Recreational Cannabis Discussed PDF Print Email

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By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville


Feb. 27, 2019:  I spent part of last week in Albany at the annual mayors' conference to get a grasp of what was happening at the seat of government and its possible effects on Bronxville.

The experience was quite worthwhile as a primer on our state in general, much of the information courtesy of talks by Attorney General Letitia James and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

Sadly, New York State is two very different states – one Rockland County and south and the other “upstate.” As illustration, many of my upstate colleagues’ number-one priority was dealing with the proliferation of “zombie homes” – empty residences that have been abandoned and/or taken over by squatters, decreasing the value of entire neighborhoods. Currently, there is no time limit for banks to execute foreclosure proceedings, so homes are left desolate for years on end. One colleague was so frustrated by their blight he had their DPW board up all the windows and doors at taxpayer expense.

State Overview

  • Unemployment statewide is at 3.9% vs 9% during the height of the recession, with 975,000 more jobs added than were lost during that same period. However, 90% of the newly created jobs are in the counties from Westchester and Rockland south. Many upstate counties saw the unemployment rate decrease locally because people simply left the job market.

  • The direct municipal aid to 400 New York villages including our own was not reinstated. Nine of the ten villages in “fiscal stress” lost all their state aid.

  • The average property tax in New York is $22,000. As a result, many residents are impacted adversely by the SALT cap of the $10,000 property tax deduction.

  • The state has an unanticipated shortfall of over $2 billion in expected tax revenues.

  • North of New York City, 58.3% of properties receive some level of tax exemptions.

  • New York State receives 90 cents in return for every dollar it sends to Washington. The average return to states is $1.19 with only New Jersey and North Dakota having a less favorable rate of return than New York.

  • New York State has never had a municipal bankruptcy, but 37 communities (2.5%) and 14.5% of counties are in “fiscal stress.”

  • New York, via the attorney general’s office, has 200 pending lawsuits against the federal government, many of them directed at the EPA.

  • The New York State pension fund has an all-time high value of $207.4 billion, though it lost $197.3 million in the month of December. The Pew Research Institute rates our pension fund in the top four nationwide with assets at 90% plus needed funds for the 1.1 million people in the system.

  • Currently, the state treasury is holding $14 billion in unclaimed funds with over $468 million returned to taxpayers in fiscal year 2018. (We at the village had $140.00 found and returned!!)

  • The last time the citizenship question was asked on a Census was in 1950. In 2010, 69% of New Yorkers responded vs a 76% response nationwide. Only 61% of New York City residents answered. Census responses not only could help staunch the loss of any more congressional seats but the data is also used as a matrix when dealing with health emergencies. As example, when Long Island City had a massive measles outbreak about a decade ago, Census numbers were used to calculate the needed number of vaccines, resulting in a major shortfall of needed medicine.

  • The one piece of potential legislation of most concern to mayors that was laid out in the governor’s executive budget was the legalization of cannabis and the corresponding retail outlets, resulting in the creation of an entirely new government agency, Department of Cannabis Management.

  • As written, the legislation would legalize recreational cannabis for those 21 and older. County governments can opt out and prohibit any cannabis operations in their respective counties. If a county does not opt out, cities within having a population of 100,000 may opt out independently. (Yonkers is the only qualifying city in Westchester.) Communities such as ours would have no say save promulgating zoning regulations that meet a nebulous standard of “regulations that do not make the operation of dispensaries unreasonably impracticable.”

Last week, the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police and the Westchester County Chiefs of Police Association announced their opposition to the legalization of recreational cannabis.

  • They cited data from Colorado where drugged driving rates have more than doubled, insurance rates have increased, and local governments are forced to retrain entire police departments and police dogs and increase security near these establishments. At present, the projected revenue of $83 million in FY2021 will not be shared with any local governments.

  • Representatives from Massachusetts recounted their recent experience with legalization. Statewide, the legislation passed 53% to 47% in a public referendum, so the issue remains very divisive. Local communities can ban implementation but need a two-thirds voting majority. From the date of enactment of legislation to retail operation takes from 18 months to two years.

I will be watching the path of this legislation very carefully as the legislative year progresses.

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. 

 
From the Mayor: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Police, Safety, Parking, and More PDF Print Email

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By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville


Jan. 23, 2019:  The following is a year-end compilation of the most-asked questions of village staffers as well as issues that have generated the most inquires/confusion.

This is also an opportunity to say thank you to every village employee. We truly have the finest, kindest, most professional group of people dedicated to our village. It is an honor – and a joy – to interact with them every day. It makes my job truly a pleasure.

Police – Safety – Parking

Our parking enforcement officers, per New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law, cannot stop drivers who cross double yellow lines to park. Only a trained police officer can make the stop. As reasoning, consider the scenario – a driver is stopped and the car is stolen or unregistered or the driver is dangerous – only a trained police officer is equipped at this juncture to handle the aftermath. In addition, any yellow-line violation must be witnessed by a police officer. A video taken and delivered to the police department does not constitute legal grounds for a ticket.

In the past, we have used overtime funds, especially near the holidays, to monitor this violation. However, in 2018, our police department dealt with an unprecedented number of highly unusual incidents, including a pervasive mail fraud scheme, a store holdup, and personal crimes, which depleted our funds at an unprecedented rate.

Our parking enforcement officers have defined routes. They cannot stand and wait, cross the street, or issue a ticket in another parking enforcement officer's zone. Routes can be tracked and errors in enforcement can be found.

Six national holidays trigger free parking in the village: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. Meters are strictly a tool to ensure parking turnover for our merchants. Without meters, someone could park in front of their stores, walk two blocks, and spend the day in New York City. Meter operation is related to store openings and has no relation to the esteem the village holds for any holiday honoree.

The old adage “oh it’s the end of the month, so the PD must be under pressure to write more tickets” is just not true. Our village police department has no quotas. In truth, if one is stopped for a New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law violation, e.g., speeding, the village receives a flat $15 regardless of the face value of the ticket. Given the time expenditure of the police officer, court clerk, and judge adjudicating the ticket, it is very much a money-losing transaction. Tickets are issued for safety concerns only.

Note:  Cameras authorized to record speeding are not authorized in New York State. Only a few cities have received a waiver, including our neighbor Yonkers.

Crosswalks, to meet requirements, must be from a corner to a corner unless a nearby construction project creates temporary exigent circumstances.

Our police department has measured and re-measured village streets and has not yet found a continuous stretch of road that meets width, visibility for turning, and safety standards for bicycle lanes. Simply painting a bike lane symbol is not the answer, as is evidenced by the configuration on nearby Palmer Road.

If you witness a friend or neighbor in any kind of need, do not hesitate to call our police department desk at 914-337-0500. If you wish to remain anonymous, it will be totally respected. The goal, whether a teen or senior, is to get immediate help for one’s friend.

If you do not have a garage or driveway as a part of your property title or if you plan to move to a village property that does not have parking, you may put your name on the parking waiting list either in person or online under the header Bronxville Reserved Space Sign-up (one space per household).

Note: The space previously occupied by the former renter or owner of your new home does not run with the property.

Administrative Functions

There is a great deal of confusion generated by the Bronxville address – village vs postal code.

If someone pays their taxes to the village, the state allows us to issue handicap parking permits, offer spaces in the village-owned parking lots, and give a discount for the use of recreational facilities. Services such as these are offered in every community in which you write your property tax check.

The village can issue birth certificates for babies born within the village boundaries. The first two documents are free and then $10 each thereafter. If born within New York State, one can order a birth certificate online for $30 (a cost closer to the true cost of processing these documents).

Vital statistics such as the above are not “foilable” under the New York State Freedom of Information Law.

New York State also regulates all penalties and time periods for tax payments. We have no discretion whatsoever at the local level to revise penalties or extend payment periods.

In the same vein, new residents of the village who qualify for the STAR tax exemption must now apply directly to the state and not the village.

One hundred percent of any credit card fees associated with an administrative transaction at the village are passed through to the credit card company.

Sadly, the village has no control over much of the area surrounding the rail station, as it is Metro-North’s property. Our offers to even do repairs by village employers/contractors have been rebuffed because of union and liability issues.

The Scout Field area, both upper and lower fields, are almost entirely in the cities of Mount Vernon and Yonkers and under the umbrella auspices of the County of Westchester (a very narrow land strip abutting Alden Place is village property). As a consequence, our police department has no jurisdiction over the property or activity in these other jurisdictions. 

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. 

 
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