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From the Mayor: Uphold the Spirit of Community that Makes Bronxville Special PDF Print Email

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By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville


Apr. 18, 2018:  Over the weekend, I reread my favorite op-ed piece, “The Structure of Gratitude” by David Brooks. Given the current national climate, it resonated more than ever.

Mr. Brooks describes gratitude as a form of "social glue" that produced "the institutions our ancestors gave us ... which shape us to be better than we'd otherwise be." Brooks believes that "appreciation becomes the first political virtue and the need to perfect the gifts of others is the first political task."

I immediately thought of the gift of all the villagers who have come before us and shaped our community into the truly special place it is. I am so grateful for their example.

Many of us moved to the village for the excellent school system, the close proximity to New York City, and the natural beauty, but we stayed because of the friendships made and the community spirit.

Our forbearers set the standard of decency, tolerance, and grace under pressure--a high bar indeed. Citizens have always been well informed and passionate about causes, admiring of a worthy opponent and a well-reasoned argument, and respectful of contrary intelligent views.

There are many beautiful suburbs of New York City and environs to call home. Most of them more favorably stretch your real estate dollars and offer more property, parks, and recreational facilities, and you can even get a parking space!!

Bronxville has the intangibles that are hard to quantify but exert an indefinable draw, a friendly embrace.

In my 30-plus years as a resident, I have found villagers to be the most thoughtful, caring, generous, and compassionate people I have been privileged to meet. When a family experiences a sadness or misfortune, neighbors rally and express their love and concern in the form of casseroles with enough to feed the Fifth Army.

From my other perspective, having been privileged to be involved in village government, I have found our citizens to be intelligent, well informed, and so respectful of civil discourse. I have sought to emulate many of them.

As a shining example, I think of our two-year-long property revaluation effort. This process has served to fracture some communities with lawsuits and residual neighbor-to-neighbor bad feelings. Our community serves as the model for others in our county for how to conduct a process that causes great upheaval with courtesy, civility, and understanding.

At this juncture in our nation, where some are using the adjective "mean" to describe the discourse, we need to hold fast to what we value as a village.

Fissures appear so quickly when a foundation is not preserved. If I have fallen short in my duty to preserve more than buildings and roads, I am truly sorry. In the spirit of gratitude, I have recommitted myself and humbly ask you to think about doing the same to uphold the spirit of community that makes our village home.

Editor's note:  As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes press releases, statements, and articles from local institutions, officeholders, candidates, 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: Out and About in the Village: Refresher on Safety and Responsibility PDF Print Email

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By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville


Apr. 11, 2018:  I spent a good part of Saturday doing errands in town and the merchants convinced me spring is really here to stay.

As the days get longer, residents are out and about much more, enjoying the sunshine. Several have approached me about safe bike riding in the village and possible designated bike lanes.

Unfortunately, none of the village streets are wide enough for regulation bike lanes. Our wide streets, Pondfield Road and Midland Avenue, have continuous parking areas and/or a hedge divide. Even if the streets were wide enough, Police Chief Satriale is not a proponent because bike lanes sometimes complicate bicycle and car turning movements at crowded intersections.

One only has to see the bike lane designations on Palmer Avenue that are placed in turning lanes and the middle of the road in some areas to be cognizant of the dangers of misplaced markings.

As a point of information, as per village code, bicycles may be ridden on residential sidewalks if the rider is under the age of 11. However, no one can ride bicycles or skateboards on the sidewalks in our two business districts.

With the warmer weather comes increased pedestrian traffic, especially as our youngsters are out and about. With that in mind, our police department, in the interest of safety, will be stepping up enforcement of the texting-and-cell-phone-use-while-driving laws as well as speed laws and the crossing of double yellow lines. As a reminder, the areas adjacent to all of the schools in the village, including our nursery schools, are school zones with a 20 mph speed limit.

Several residents have sent me ordinances recently adopted throughout the country that also fine inattentive texters and cell phone users crossing on foot in intersections, as their inattention also poses a risk.

Should a pedestrian leave the sidewalk and enter a designated crosswalk, New York State law requires not only the car in the adjacent lane to stop but also the cars traveling in the opposite direction. As an illustration, at the intersection near the Soccer & Rugby Imports store and Houlihan Lawrence, the law requires all four lanes to stop when an individual first steps in the crosswalk. 

When walking a dog, please pick up after your pet. Pet waste not only damages plants and lawns but has become a major contaminant of our water systems. Waste placed in plastic bags and then dropped in storm sewers causes the growth of very dangerous bacteria and clogs the free flow of runoff.

If contemplating seasonal outdoor renovations or landscaping improvements, please consider using porous surfaces such as brick or gravel in lieu of asphalt and using design landscaping plans that facilitate water retention and soil infiltration.

The nice weather also signals the opening of two wonderful village institutions, our village tennis program and the farmers' market. Spring is already in full swing at our village tennis courts. Tennis open play and programming starts officially on April 16. For questions on permits or programs, please contact the sports director, Jessica Watts, at  CLOAKING .

Our farmers' market, one of the most customer-popular and sought-after venues, will be opening the season on May 12 from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm at the traditional location on Stone Place near the paddle courts.

Spring in the village also brings more events and entertaining and with that an uptick in trash. Approximately $180,000 of your tax dollars were spent collecting trash last year. The more we recycle, the less we spend. In lieu of paying a “tipping fee” to landfills and burn facilities for non-recycled garbage, we actually receive money on the sale of our recyclables.

As a refresher, the following items may now be recycled in Westchester County in addition to the obvious ones such as newspapers, beverage bottles, and aluminum cans: cereal boxes, phone books, pizza cartons, corrugated cardboard, glossy magazines and inserts, aluminum foil and trays, egg cartons, and detergent bottles; and now even the caps and lids to any tin or plastic item can be recycled.

The following items still cannot be accepted for recycling: paint and oil cans, plastic and Styrofoam packing materials, waxed cardboard such as milk cartons, cardboard containing any traces of food products, paperback and hardcover books, clothes hangers, and uncoded plastics such as found in large toys and plastic tableware. Only glass that has been used for packaging food or beverages may be recycled. Light bulbs, mirrors, and ceramic and kitchen cookware must be placed in the regular garbage.

As you travel the village, let us know if you see anything that needs repair, replacement, or just general sprucing up. We so count on you to be our eyes and ears.

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

 
James Van Metter Among Those Honored with Community Inspiration Award PDF Print Email

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By Staff


Apr. 4, 2018:  James W. Van Metter of James Van Metter & Associates in Bronxville was one of six recipients to receive a Community Inspiration Award from AssetMark, Inc., which is a provider of investment and consulting solutions for financial advisors.  

According to information provided by AssetMark, "Award recipients were selected by a panel of senior AssetMark executives who evaluated nominees based on their ability to inspire, lead, and motivate others, in addition to their time and effort dedicated to a local charity. ...The Community Inspiration Award provides one of many opportunities for AssetMark’s associates and advisors to connect with and promote their shared values by submitting nominations for the award."

Van Metter was recognized for his work with NAMI Westchester, which is a "grassroots organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for all individuals and families whose lives are affected by mental illness."

Pictured here: James W. Van Metter.

Photo by Gordon Murray, Pixel Photography & Video

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


 
From the Mayor: Major Policy Initiatives Included in, and Omitted from, the 2018-19 New York State Budget PDF Print Email

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By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville


Apr. 4, 2018:  New York State passed a budget late Friday as legislators headed home for Easter and Passover celebrations.

The approved budget incorporates a deficit of $4.4 million, largely due to changes in the recent federal tax laws that affect New York State. The governor sought $1 billion in new taxes to help offset the loss but only a tax on prescription opioids paid by the manufacturers made it into the final budget. An Opioid Prevention and Treatment Fund will be started with the $127 million of projected first-year revenues.

Governor Cuomo was able to get bipartisan approval for tax credits for charitable contributions to public education and certain health care programs. To further ease the federal tax impact, the governor’s provision to allow employers to replace the income tax currently paid by employees with a payroll tax paid by the employer with salaries adjusted accordingly was agreed upon by the Senate and Assembly. (It does appear the IRS is ready to challenge his plan.)

Intertwining budgetary needs with new policy initiatives has become the new norm in most state capitals, including our own.

Now new legislative goals are funded at the front end in budget projections rather than as bills brought before the legislature during normal debate.

As an example, the concept of congestion pricing. Mayor Bloomberg, who last brought it up in New York State in 2008, could never get a bill out of committee on the subject. In the present state budget, a new revenue line was created that places a surcharge of $2.75 per ride on Uber and Lyft and $2.50 per ride on taxis traveling south of 96th Street in the city. Though the imposition of congestion charges for most vehicles in London and Stockholm works well, drivers groups, commercial truckers, and electeds from outer boroughs lobbied together to limit the surcharge in New York City to for-hire vehicles only.

In the ongoing internecine battle between the mayor of New York City and the governor, the governor was able to get the legislative leaders to give him added oversight of the mayoral-controlled NYC public school system; a $250 million state stipend to repair public housing; a directive to require the city to contribute $418 million of its budget to emergency subway repair; and a state legal right to direct the development near Penn Station.

Other new policy initiatives that were incorporated into the budget-funding process included a sexual harassment policy that requires contractors bidding on state projects to have an approved policy on the subject. State and local government workers will also be held to uniform standards including the divulging of confidentiality agreements unless the victim objects. The major criticism of the negotiated policy is that no women were included in the final language deliberations.

As a corollary, forensic rape kits must now be preserved 20 years vs the current requirement of only 30 days. 

Equally important are the items that dropped out during the frenzied negotiations. The budget was on time but at the cost of transparency. The governor signed, at the legislature's request, “a message of necessity” that allows state government to bypass the constitutionally mandated three-day waiting period between the introduction of a bill and a vote on it. Bills were then negotiated behind closed doors all without any release to the public.

The entire budget process was also stalled for a time until Senator Felder of Brooklyn received waivers for yeshivas to meet certain state education department regulations, as he is pivotal in the current delicate balance of power.

Major items omitted included the reform of the Child Victim’s Act, which is one of the most restrictive in the nation. The goal was to raise the age from 23 to 28 for victims to bring felony actions against purported abusers and to 50 years old for civil claims. The bill also contained a controversial “one year look back” litigation window to allow victims to sue regardless of the year of the alleged abuse. The proposed revisions of the act were opposed by the Boy Scouts of America, the Catholic Church, some yeshiva groups, and an insurance company lobby.

New York is one of only 13 states with no early voting; a provision to require counties to make polling arrangements for balloting up to 12 days prior to an election was defeated largely because no provision was made to cover the $6.4 million in local costs to implement.

Judicial reform also faltered, including the proposed elimination of bail requirements in low-level criminal cases; the requirement that prosecutors share basic evidence prior to the first day of a trial (New York is one of only ten states that currently allows the withholding); and the requirement that defendants are not held unnecessarily due to prosecutorial delay.

A version of the Dream Act, offering tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children, did not receive the needed support, nor did an ethics reform measure that would remove the LLC loophole that currently allows donors to circumvent contribution limits by donating through limited liability corporations.

Though these items were left on the cutting room floor, many advocates are not completely disheartened by the failure of initiatives to receive traction, as the process has served to bring the issues to the public consciousness, and with it, garner perhaps future support for the concepts. 

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

 
From the Mayor: Modest Budget Increase for 2018-2019, but Many Projects PDF Print Email

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By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville


Mar. 28, 2018:  It is the yearly budget season, when trustees must go into overdrive. Warts and all, here is where we are with our preliminary budget. We will continue to dissect it at a public work session on April 9.

As an overview, our budget calls for general fund appropriations of $16,458,082, an increase of $274,675, or 1.7%, from the 2017-2018 adopted budget. The village has a taxable value of $3,160,000,000, reflecting an increase of $45,631,022 from last year.

The net result is a real estate tax levy increase of 3.84%, resulting in a 2.35% increase in real property taxes next fiscal year.

In real-dollar impact, the village median-priced home with a value of $2,200,000 would see a $160.60 increase in the village bill to $6,976.20. Along the continuum, a home valued at $1.2 million would see a $79.00 increase to $3,440, and a home valued at $4.2 million would see a $307.00 increase to $13,348.

The principal drivers for the modest budget increase is a salary increase attributable to the fourth year of a negotiated labor contract with our police department as well as a significant ($70,000) increase in our health insurance payments.

To put it in perspective, the 2017-2018 village fiscal year saw many exciting and long-planned projects come to fruition, notably the completion of the flood mitigation project and the opening of Villa BXV, hospital enhancements, and the Kensington Road parking garage. 

The proposed revenue side of the equation is projected to be down by $191,351 as a corollary to our major initiatives. Parking meter revenues dropped near the respective construction sites, and building permit revenue will decrease to reflect the completion of the major projects. The good news is that revenues from sales tax, state-local funding share, mortgage tax, and franchise and gross receipts tax are on track to remain largely unchanged.

Expenses unique to this budget are the purchase of Kevlar vests for our police. This expense appears every five years, as the fiber of the vests disintegrates after a five-year life. In addition, we needed to add a new budget item--electricity for the new Kensington garage. Our new camera system has also added some first-time expenditures. 

Believe it or not, the snow season was not a budget-breaker, as we calculate our snow removal projections based on ten years of costs, so it served to even out.

In an effort to plan for the future, we have created a tax stabilization reserve through the use of $500,000 from unassigned tax reserves, still leaving us with an unassigned fund balance reflecting a very healthy 38% of proposed appropriations. The healthy fund balance will ensure retention of the highest possible bond rating for a village as well as monies on hand to contemplate major improvement projects.

The focus of the trustees this past year has been to retain the highest level of services to villagers while being good stewards of the future.

To that end, the 2017-18 year included the commencement or completion of an unprecedented number of capital projects focusing on repairs of a now 100-year-old-plus infrastructure.

To put it in a more global perspective, the passage of the proposed budget as described above will be 14¢ of your town/county tax dollars, with the other costs being fire, 8.6¢, county government, 13¢, school taxes, 60¢, Eastchester Town taxes, 2¢, and sewer and water district taxes equating to 3¢ per dollar. On the village level, 17¢ of every tax dollar funds the municipal government.

There is not much room for further trimming. One possible exception would be the collection of leaves in bags vs on-street pickup, which would save almost $100,000.

Staffing, which is the major cost driver of all municipal budgets, is as lean as possible. In the 30 years that I have been in the village, the police department, public works department, and administrative staff are at their lowest personnel numbers.

In addition, people are crossed-trained, especially in the administrative division. As an example, our front desk staffer is also now the registrar responsible for the several thousand birth and death certificates we process yearly.

Our village administrator is also our village clerk responsible for running all elections and being a Memorial Day parade coordinator in addition to his regular duties.

I am confident that in this budget we continued to maximize the use of your tax dollars and prepared a responsible budget, mindful of the fact that we are stewards of your tax dollars.

Editor's note:  As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes press releases, statements, and articles from local institutions, legislators, and candidates. 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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