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Isn't it Rich?

hundrendollarbillScarsdale has been named #3 on the Bloomberg News list of America's Richest Places. With an average household income in 2015 of $371,194, Scarsdale is behind Atherton, CA (average household income $444,374) and Cherry Hill Village, Colorado, with an average HH of $403,532. In 2015 average household income in Scarsdale rose $5,198 from 2014 when it was $365,996. Bronxville was number 8 on the list at $317,063.

The article says that "Cities and towns with ties to Wall Street and the Silicon Valley, and a smattering of communities in between, boasted the highest U.S. household incomes in 2015," according their analysis of census data.

It notes that more than a third of the 100 richest households on the list are located within 50 miles of New York City.

See the full analysis here:

Void the Current Tax Roll? Nottage Debunks Alternative Facts

homesalesSince Joanne Wallenstein wrote her article with my analysis, I've gotten a lot of feedback, some good suggestions/critiques and some...not so helpful. So I wanted to update and extend some of what I did.

Several people noted it might not be fair to compare the 2016 post BAR/SCAR roll to the same for 2015. One person, Jane Curley, made this case particularly forcefully in a letter to the editor of the Scarsdale Inquirer helpfully titled "Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" about six of the 185 sales I included that she thought fell into that category:

Curley said,

"In actuality, only about six of the sales were incorrectly included. However, including them introduces bias into the analysis and that is very, very bad. That said, this happens all the time, usually innocently. However, once something like this is identified, it needs to be acknowledged. When you don't acknowledge it that is the statistical equivalent of a lie."

I'm not a fan of someone implying I'm dishonest, especially when I was fully transparent with the data and when the argument they're making is both so easily tested and so self-evidently unlikely to change any results (6 out of 185. Seriously?). So I redid the analysis with the 2016 tentative roll versus the final roll I'd used previously. You can see the results in the table below. If you're keeping score at home, nothing changed (several commenters pointed out as much to Curley, but in fairness to her, perhaps she was too busy composing her "lying liars" letter to run the numbers). And contra Mayra Kirkendall-Rodriguez's assertion that "Nottage's analysis was not validated nor peer reviewed. Several quants have already discredited his work" no such thing has happened. Statistician Michael Levine said in the last trustees meeting—at which people like Bob Harrison screamed about my "bogus analysis" and complained that my assessment went down—that mine was a valid exercise and that he found similar statistical results (I want to stress that he does not extend his conclusions to saying what roll should be used). It is surprising to me that everyone has had the data for this long and yet no one has come back with substantive quantitative rebuttals.

nottage1

As an aside, I'm further amazed that people think someone's assessment going down is evidence that they're biased. I'm particularly amazed because some of the people making that argument also saw their assessments go down! It would be helpful for someone to make a cheat sheet of when a lowered assessment indicates insuperable bias versus when it indicates selfless public virtue. Asking for a friend.

In the same letter to the editor, Curley tries to explain why the stats may look as they do: "Finally, during the past year or two, the prices of Scarsdale's more modest homes seem to have gone up more significantly than the prices of higher end properties. This is a very happy coincidence that could just as easily have gone the other way."

Sooo... the 2016 roll only looks good because changes in housing market conditions have made it more representative? Well apart from that little fact Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? I'm no lawyer, but I would hope that the Article 78 plaintiffs don't intend to argue that market reality (sales) has somehow unluckily conspired to make the 2015 roll look less accurate and that looking at prices on the ground today is somehow less relevant than looking at prices in 2013 which the Tyler valuations was derived from (this latter argument has actually been explicitly made). If market forces have moved higher-end homes down and lower end homes up, how would a fair assessment roll not reflect that, you know, kind of important fact?

But I wanted to delve further. Another argument made is that while 2016 may be more accurate, it is biased to high-end homes. That argument is actually right. It is biased. But the Tyler assessments were biased toward lower-end homes. Moreover, both underassess homes between $1.0-3.0M (hence the fact that both rolls would have needed an equalization ratio).

So if we have opposite biases, can we make any conclusions? Here, the inferences get muddier, but it is helpful to run some additional assessment ratios.

Nottage2


In the table above, I calculate the coefficient of dispersion (COD), price-related differential (PRD), and the price-related bias (PRB). All these are calculable from the posted dataset and I've included documents that show the steps in the table footnoted. A key critique of using just the COD and PRD is that they are simplistic and biased. The PRB is the new hot thing that assessor organizations like the IAAO are pushing (NY doesn't require it but some other states do). It measures the percentage change in assessment ratios as values double; a positive number implies overassessment at higher-priced homes and a negative number implies underassessment at higher-priced homes. In the table, I've included acceptable ranges of each from NY ORPTS and IAAO as I understand them.

As with the goodness of fit data, these results surprised me. The 2016 roll "passes" all three, while the 2015 "fails" two of three. Most telling is the PRB as it is constructed to let an assessor quantify how much progressivity or regressivity there is. At least as measured here, the bias toward lower-priced homes in the 2015 roll (9%) is three times larger than the 2016 roll's bias toward higher-priced homes (-3%).

So Tyler overassessed the high-end, Ryan overassessed the low end, both underassessed the middle (most of the village), but the PRB shows Tyler's bias was larger, while the COD shows the Tyler results are less accurate, at least as measured by the last year of sales.

These ratios don't conclusively prove that one roll is more equitable (or rather less unequitable) than the other. But it is surprising how relatively well the 2016 roll comes out, with multiple tests and slices of the data. I did similar analyses for sales just in the last half of 2016 (on the suspicion that Ryan might have somehow seen listings and adjusted his data accordingly). I did the analysis by lopping off the $3M+ range, Tyler's worst. While the absolute numbers changed (as you'd expect), the directional results were remarkably robust.

Why is this the case? I'm not completely sure. I suspect Ryan partly did get lucky: the market moved his way, as it has in all of Westchester County, but that counts. I also think Tyler's comp method introduced volatility relative to the sort of pure market model Ryan used. Tyler also has many more neighborhoods than Ryan leading to more cases of similarly-located homes having wildly different values. Both revals generated hundreds of challenges so each had problems.

But whatever the case, the question before the community is not whether Ryan did a great job or fulfilled his contract. The question is whether the evidence justifies taking the extraordinary measure of voiding an existing assessment roll to go back to one that, as measured by IAAO standards, is less reflective of the current market and which will potentially be even more unfair to a different group of people. I don't think such evidence has been presented. Accordingly, I don't think the village should countenance either rolling back to 2015 or settling with the Article 78 plaintiffs. We should look toward the next revaluation to fix the shortcomings of both Tyler and Ryan.

If you'll indulge me, I'll end on a personal note. The personal and often nasty nature of many of the attacks I've experienced over the past few days in multiple venues has been eye opening. People point to my membership on the CNC as though agreeing to run in a neighborhood election two years ago—a process that hundreds of our neighbors have gone through—somehow makes me the equivalent of a political machine insider. Well I'm no insider (I'd wager none of the trustees know me from Adam), but I'm proud to have served with CNC volunteers whom I hadn't known, but who spent many hours not just selecting candidates but encouraging as broad and diverse a set of people to put themselves up as candidates. I hope that we as a village never reward those who scream the loudest, who seek to pit people against each other the most, and who resort to vicious attacks when challenged.

Brian Nottage, PhD, CFA

Snow Emergency Ends Wednesday am: Two-Hour Delay for Schools on Wednesday

treeinsnow(Updated at 7:30 am on Wednesday March 15) The Village of Scarsdale has cancelled the state of emergency as of Wednesday morning. Streets are reopened for drivers and parking. The school district will be open on a two-hour delay Wednesday morning.

Here's the information from the Village:

The Snow Emergency declared this morning at 12:01 a.m. is still in effect and will remain so until all streets are cleared for safe passage.

Public Works crews are currently plowing curb-to-curb onall roads and will apply deicingmaterials afterwards, as temperatures are predicted to drop below freezing tonight. As of now,the Village anticipates another ten hours to twelve hours of plowing and deicing, including clearing of the 25 miles of residential walkways in time for the morning commute.

For questions and concerns about snow removal operations, the SNOW Hotline, 914-722-1150, will remain active until 11:00 p.m. tonight. Residents may call the Public Works Department at the same number beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 15th.

The Village requests the support and assistance of residents and other property owners in making sure that contractors hired to help clear driveways and other private property DO NOT push the snow onto the public right-of-way, as this will only confound our efforts to make the roads and residential walkways passable.

During this emergency, it shall be unlawful to operate a vehicle on any designated snow emergency street in the Village of Scarsdale. These streets are posted with identifying signs. In addition, it shall be unlawful to park a vehicle on any public or private street in the Village during this snow emergency. Violators may have their vehicle towed and impounded at their expense.

The Scarsdale Public Schools were closed on Tuesday March 14th and will open two hours late on Wednesday. Here is the note from Dr. Hagerman:

"All schools will be on a two hour delay tomorrow due to current weather conditions. This also means that there will be no before school programs or meetings. A two hour delay means that your school's start time will be exactly two hours later than usual. If there is a need to change the typical delayed building schedule, your principal will notify you directly."

The following information and tips will help you and your family to stay safe during this major winter storm event. Please also take time to check on friends, family, and neighbors that may be unable to navigate the range of conditions that one may encounter during a severe winter storm. Also, refrain from non-essential travel.

In the event of a power outage:

  • Close-off unused rooms to retain heat;
  • Wear layered clothing and use blankets or sleeping bags to stay warm;
  • NEVER use generators or outdoor heating or cooking equipment indoors, such as a grills, camp stoves, or gasoline/propane heaters;
  • NEVER heat a home with a stove;
  • If driving is absolutely necessary, keep disaster supplies in your vehicle, make sure your vehicle is properly equipped, and use extra precaution on the roads; and
  • Limit your time outdoors. If you are outside, protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing several layers of warm, loose-fitting, light-weight clothing.
  • If you observe a downed power line, please call 911. ConEd customers should report power outages and check service restoration status at http://www.conEd.com, or by calling 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633). When reporting an outage,customers should have their Con Edison account number available, if possible, and report whether their neighbors also have lost power.

Con Edison offers the following storm tips to customers to help weather the possible effects of a storm:

  • If you see downed electrical wires, do not go near them – call 911. Treat all downed wires as if they are live. Never attempt to move them or touch them with any object.
  • Be mindful that downed wires can be hidden from view by snow, tree limbs, leaves or water;
  • If a power line falls on your car while you're in it, stay inside the vehicle and wait for
  • emergency personnel;
  • If your power goes out, disconnect or turn off appliances that would otherwise turn on automatically when service is restored. If several appliances start up at once, the electric circuits may overload; and
  • Check to make sure your flashlights and any battery-operated radios or
  • televisions are in working order. Make sure you have a supply of extra batteries.

Weather updates and news on restorations of electrical service can be heard on most local radio and television stations.

Storm Cancellations:

The Village Board Finance Committee and Regular Village Board meetings scheduled for Tuesday, March 14th, at 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., respectively, have been rescheduled for the same times on Wednesday, March 15th;

Sanitation collection for Tuesday, March 14th, has been canceled. The Tuesday collection will occur on Friday, March 17th;

The Wednesday, March 15th, recycling collection is currently planned to occur, but will be curbside only;

The Scarsdale Public Library will be closed on Tuesday, March 14th

The Recycling Yard will remain open until 8:00 p.m. tonight, Monday, March 13th, for residents wishing to drop-off waste or recycling ahead of the winter storm;

The Freightway Garage rooftop levels 5A and 5B will be closed and barricaded tonight at 11:00p.m. to facilitate snow plowing operations; and

Residents are reminded of the existing overnight parking prohibition on any village street or open/surface parking lot between th e hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.

Effective at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 14h, the Village will deploy a "Snow Desk" for residents to call or non-emergency, snow-related issues or concerns. The phone number is 914-722-1150. Although the Village may experience reduced staffing, normal Village Hall operating hours are expected this week, including tomorrow, Tuesday, March 14th.

Greenburgh Police Arrest Five for Unlicensed Massage Therapy and Prositution at Central Avenue Day Spas

massageGreenburgh Police are continuing to monitor massage parlors on Central Avenue and arresting unlicensed massage therapists and prostitutes and closing down operations. On March 10, 2017 members of the Greenburgh Police Street Crime Unit, Drug and Alcohol Task Force and Detective Division completed a short-term investigation into the unauthorized practice of a profession and prostitution occurring at numerous massage establishments and made the following arrests:

Four suspects were arrested for practicing massage without a license and the fifth was arrested for prostitution after she offered to engage in sexual conduct with an undercover police officer. All of the suspects were transported to Police Headquarters where they were booked, processed, and held for arraignment.

Here are the details:

Green Spa 791 South Central Ave, Scarsdale NY
Arrested:
Jin, Xiangshu DOB: 5/20/1978 Prostitution PL 230.00
Piao, Yilan DOB: 9/3/1972 Education Law 6512 (sub1)
Closed by the Building Department

Jade Spa 698 South Central Ave, Scarsdale NY
Arrested: Jin, Jong Ji DOB: 5/28/1968 Education Law 6512 (sub1)
Closed by the Building Department

Charming Spa 390 South Central Ave, Scarsdale NY
Arrested: Yi, Geumsun DOB: 2/27/1969 Education Law 6512 (sub1)
Closed by the Building Department

Green Rose Body Work 455 South Central Ave, Scarsdale NY
Arrested: Yu, Jinglan DOB: 11/13/1972 Education Law 6512 (sub1)
Closed by the Building Department

Please note that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The Day Camp that Feels like Sleepaway

breezemontDay camps in Westchester can really serve up a dose of sticker shock. As a stay-at-home mom with two kids, it was enough to send me off to employment interviews at local camps. I ended up working as a head counselor at a full-service day camp for three years. My kids learned to swim well but other than that, I realized that the camp was severely lacking in other activity areas as well as facilities.

Last year, as a writer for this site, I was putting together the camp guide and reached out to Breezemont Day Camp in Armonk. The Community Relations Director, Matt Pritikin described Breezemont as a day camp that feels more like sleepaway and he was certain that if I came up and toured it, even in the middle of winter with close to a foot of snow blanketing the grounds, I'd be convinced to enroll my kids. I had toured most of the other full-service camps in the area, but not Breezemont.

Needless to say, he was right. From the moment I pulled into Breezemont, it felt camp-like and kid-friendly. Even the trees felt camp-y with the challenge course high in the canopy and the zip line running across the lake. A camp with a lake in Westchester? Check! I was impressed by the camp layout, the swim complex (which has been renovated for this upcoming summer,) the comprehensive art center, the tennis and basketball facilities, and the athletic field space. Many of the facilities have been recently renovated and blend with the camp environment well. I loved the idea that each camp group had their own changing area for swim instead of hordes of girls being stuffed together in one loud, wet, smelly, dirty cubby room.

I enrolled my daughter for summer 2016. (Unfortunately, the boys group was filled up so I couldn't enroll my son.) Even before the summer started I was impressed with camp communications. They had a weekend "open house" where the kids were all invited to camp to meet the staff and their counselors and explore the grounds/activities. They did a "dry run" for the round-trip transportation included in the tuition and delivered my daughter a Breezemont backpack filled with a t-shirt, a water bottle, and lots of other goodies. The ride wasn't too long from Scarsdale (about 20-25 minutes) and she came home every day with high-quality art projects and stories about new things she had learned.

I was impressed with camp security when I went to visit my daughter at camp one day. There was a guard at the gate to direct me where to park and then he directed me straight to the office to be signed in. (You cannot leave camp grounds until you are signed out.) I received a visitor tag and was brought to my daughter's group. They were at art and I was invited to participate. (I made a necklace I actually wear on occasion!) Several of the kids had swimmer's ear, including my daughter, and I was happy to see that they didn't just have to sit at the pool and watch the other kids swim. We went to the library and the non-swimming girls worked with a staff member on the weekly camp newsletter, created and published by campers. Luckily that day also included my daughter's favorite part of camp: zip-lining over the lake! The swim program was excellent and her other favorite activities included "imagination playground," gaga, yoga, theater, music and she enjoyed all of the sports even though she told me at the start of the summer that she wouldn't. She loved the special events and shows at the camp as well.

There are no extra fees at Breezemont but there are plenty of "extras." Picture day at camp came and went and I never received any information about how I could purchase some wildly overpriced camp photos; that's because camp pictures are included and even framed for each camper and family. Each camper gets a Breezemont t-shirt. (I don't know about you but if I'm paying sleepaway price for a day camp, I hate having to shell out another $20 for a t-shirt.) During the year, there are camp reunions such as a Westchester Knicks games for Breezemont families and a fall festival on the grounds of camp. There is an early drop off option at 7:30 AM (no extra charge) and they will even feed your kids breakfast. There's also a 6:30 PM late stay option (again, no extra charge) and the kids continue to be entertained and fed after normal camp hours. One of the highlights of the summer for our family was the Thursday night campfires and barbeques. Families are invited back to camp for a light dinner and many of the camp activities are open including the pools, fishing, the ropes course, tennis, basketball, soccer, beach volleyball and more. The night concludes with songs around the campfire and, of course, s'mores. Friends and family are invited and my daughter always brought a friend from school for the festivities. (Our guests always enjoyed catching fish in the lake!)

Breezemont Day Camp is not a budget option but you truly get what you pay for (if not more). The owners/directors come from a sleepaway camp background and they're totally on-point when they say that Breezemont is the closest thing to sleepaway you'll find in a day camp.

Breezemont Day Camp
62 Cox Ave, Armonk, NY 10504
914-367-1936

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