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College Scholarship Available For Upperclassmen from Scarsdale

classofficersbThe Scarsdale Foundation 2017 Scholarship Program invites college students entering their sophomore, junior or senior year in 2017 to apply to the Scarsdale Foundation for need-based tuition assistance.

Students must either have graduated from Scarsdale High School or lived in Scarsdale during their high school years.

Scholarship applications will be available online February 15, 2017 and they should be completed online by June 5, 2017 at www.scarsdalefoundation.org.

Questions? Contact Randy Guggenheimer at rguggs@gmail.com or BK Munguia at beeks58@aol.com.

Letter to the Editor: Why I am Participating in the Article 78 Proceeding

gavelThis letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Phil Maresco of Ferncliff Road:
I'd like to briefly explain why I have chosen to participate the the Article 78.

When we moved to Scarsdale in 2009 we negotiated to purchase our home. Our 'fair-market' accepted offer was just 13,000 above the assessed value set for tax purposes at that time, and the taxes were at a rate we budgeted for when we negotiated our homes purchase price. It was part of the "affordability equation".

We fixed a lot of problems and invested in our home over the next few years, taking our a home equity line of credit with a local bank. When the 2014 revaluation was done, our assessed value increased significantly but it was justified, and our assessment went up about 14% in that first year after the Tyler revaluation. For us it wasn't a budget breaker.

During the last "drive-by" revaluation our assessed value increased by about twice as much as the prior one just 2 years earlier- and i for no good reason, as we had done no more improvements to our home. Aside from the shock of potential double digit percentage increases in our taxes, even more disturbing was the fact that the data used in my reassessment was changed and inaccurate.

So this year I grieved my Assessment and I had to pay an independent appraiser to come through my house just to prove to the Village that the million dollar job that was done 2 years ago was actually more accurate than Mr Ryan's "drive-by".

A Judge in White Plains will soon decide if Mr Ryan's appraisal "model" for my home is correct.

Why my modest approximately 2200 square foot home received such a high percentage increase and several of my neighbors actually received unsolicited decreases became clear to me when I learned about Mr Ryans "formulaic valuation" model. That model has been exposed by many residents and judged by NYState as innaccurate by the fact that our Village is no longer assessed at 100% of market value.

The bottom line for us- our County taxes (which last year were about $4,000 personally) will be increased by 11% due to the equalization rate imposed by NY State -and that's only if IF all other variables remain constant.

The portion of the Scarsdale Village "tax-pie" that my assessed value represents is still to be determined.

At present my Assessment increased by 95 K which at the old mill rate over $22 per thousand represents about $2,100. My slice of the pie is virtually guaranteed to increase - even if my assessment does not increase because of the over 1,000 grievances that were filed. Many of those were already granted some reduction by the Village Board of Assessment Review, and more will be granted some further reductions by the Court in White Plains. All that will effectively shrink the total size of the Scarsdale Village "tax pie" even further -thereby increasing the size of my slice.

I'm not sure all the good trusting people of Scarsdale whose Assessment increased only slightly or perhaps stayed the same even realize that their taxes are probably going to increase more than the budgetary norm because of the effects of the Ryan revaluation.

I'm participating in the Article 78 to invalidate Ryan to restore a sense of stability to my own tax bill and fairness to the village.

It's just not right when the assessment of a retiree living in an older small home on less than a quarter acre is given a double digit percentage increase while his son living in a much larger house on nearly 2 acres across town is given a similar percentage decrease!

Fairness needs to be restored, the only way to do that now is the allow a court to examine the Ryan work.

Our own Village is not satisfied with his work and admit they were not expecting what was delivered. In fact because Mr Ryan has not delivered his work product- namely the actual formula and data that he used to revalue the entire Village, they are NOT paying Mr Ryan the last installment of his contract for not fulfilling the terms.

Any concerns over wasting our own tax money because we are suing ourselves with the Article 78 can be mitigated by this fact- that the Village is not satisfied and should (and probably will) just stipulate to the Article 78 and settle before wasting more of our tax money in defense of the Ryan revaluation.

I encourage anyone with concerns to join the action to "invalidate" the most recent 'Ryan formula' revaluation and return to the last years valuations originally set by TYLER Technologies industry standard market-based valuations which were corrected by the 2 years of grievances that followed.

If Ryan stands unchallenged an injustice will be done in Scarsdale.

Sincerely,

Phil Maresco
43 Ferncliff Road

Has Scarsdale Lost its Vision?

penny-jar(This is an opinion piece written by Joanne Wallenstein, founder of Scarsdale10583.com.)
Consider these two quotes culled from a survey conducted by the Scarsdale Forum on the proposed renovation to the Scarsdale Library.

"That is a huge number!! I would think that we can pare down what is truly needed and what is nice to have .... I know that once you don't get all that you want, it most likely won't happen again. But it is a huge tax burden to put on the residents."

"Taxes are too high and unpredictable. Given there are at least two major projects (library and Greenacres School) I cannot support any capital improvement projects at this time."

As the community considers two large capital improvement projects I am surprised by the mindset that seems to have overtaken a good number of residents.

When these same people decided to move to Scarsdale, most factored in the local real estate taxes and ultimately decided that paying a little more was well worth the benefit. Quality schools, services and public facilities were what attracted most of us to this town to begin with. And once here, families enjoyed the children's room at the library, the pool complex, Village parks and playgrounds. Have people lost sight of why they chose Scarsdale?

The chatter I am hearing about proposed capital improvements at both the Scarsdale Library and the Greenacres School leave me wondering if the Scarsdale I know has changed or if a few critics are dominating the discussion.

First, the library: As many of you well know, a dedicated group of volunteers and professionals has spent the last few years doing a full analysis of the current library, assessing residents' needs, reviewing current and future trends and working with architects to design a library that will serve the entire community, from tots to seniors. They proposed to fund the renovation through a public/private partnership which would use both taxpayer monies and charitable donations. When the committee received pushback that the price tag was too high, they pared it back, eliminating $3 million from the proposal, and making changes that would "not gut the program." They have already spent a considerable sum in fees to do the research and create and revise the plans.

Now, the Library Board is asking the Village Board to make a decision on the project so that they can complete the private fundraising and move the project forward. Though the estimated incremental cost per household is a mere $137 per year for fifteen years, naysayers are calling the burden "huge," and the Scarsdale Forum is asking the committee to go back to the drawing board, scale back the project further, redesign the plans and weigh the costs of each design element. This is the same exercise the Library Board already performed earlier this year and they would incur even more design and professional fees in doing it again.

A similar mindset has overcome the decision to renovate or replace the Greenacres School. Though the school is too small and has widely acknowledged structural issues, neither the school administration, the school board nor residents seem willing to address them. First the superintendent declared a "pause" in the conversation and is now saying that the planned May 2017 bond referendum, which would have financed the project, is being put off indefinitely. There's denial that the school is inadequate and silence from parents, the PTA and the neighborhood association who would normally advocate for their school. What's ironic about this one, is that there would be no additional cost to taxpayers to finance the work as there is retiring debt that would be replaced with new financing. It would be tax neutral.

But that's not stopping critics from claiming that addressing the issues at the school would be too costly and would give Greenacres an unfair advantage over other elementary schools. Though the school lacks features that most of the other schools enjoy, the decision has pitted neighborhood against neighborhood.

I don't know about you – but I think we should invest in Scarsdale's resources and continue the Village's legacy of quality schools and superior services for all. In order to leave what we found here to the next generation of buyers, these same facilities need to be maintained and upgraded to today's standards.

Consider what will happen if we don't maintain Greenacres School, enlarge it or build a new school? Quickly, an overflow of students from Greenacres will populate the other elementary schools, and cause a district-wide disruption. Already, Quaker Ridge has three grades with inclusion classes, maybe because it's the largest school and has capacity. Greenacres will become the "orphan school," with subpar facilities that will undoubtedly affect home values.

And for those who think the price tag for the library is too high, think about whether $137 per year will hurt you more than you'll benefit from a state of the art facility where you can meet friends, enjoy programming, borrow books, audio tapes, films, and access media that has not yet been invented. You and your kids will use it now and when it's time to sell your home, prospective buyers will quickly realize the value of that facility.

In short, we moved here because Scarsdale had it all and we enjoyed it. We charge our elected school and village boards and professional staff with having the vision to do what's best for everyone in Scarsdale. Let's not undermine them and scare them away from doing their jobs. Don't let critics and fear mongers dominate the discussion. Protect what makes Scarsdale special by supporting improvements to our dated infrastructure.

Scarsdale Residents Make Humanitarian Trip to Rwanda

moretti4Local realtor Anne Moretti and Scarsdale resident Ruth Kohn have just returned from a trip to Rwanda where they donated school supplies and volunteered as teachers at the Mahama Refugee Camp, working with students in the Mahama English Club. In addition to school supplies, they handed out solar hats imprinted with the Sotheby's International Realty® logo to each of the students.

The Mahama Refugee Camp was established in 2015 in the remote southeastern corner of Rwanda by UNHCR, and the camp has been providing safe shelter for Burundian refugees fleeing the violence in their country. Today, there are over 51,000 Burundian refugees at Mahama Camp, with more refugees arriving daily. For the past year, Moretti has been supporting the Mahama English Club, a group of 103 refugees at the camp moretti2who came together and committed themselves to learning English. Moretti has provided classroom resources for the group, primarily through personal commissions earned from her home sales. This year, she increased her commitment and also enlisted the support of Scarsdale friend Ruth Kohn to join her in teaching at Mahama for a few weeks. The two worked together, along with a Rwandan partner, to create an intensive English language program for the students. It was an incredibly exciting and rewarding experience, Moretti says.

moretti3Moretti has had a lifelong interest in the people and cultures of Africa. She studied African politics at Georgetown, and she has made numerous trips to Africa since her first visit in 1979. Five years ago, she began supporting The Akilah Institute, a college in Rwanda run exclusively for educating women. She actively works on Akilah fund-raising, and she visits Akilah's main campus in Rwanda every year. Last year, Akilah faced a new challenge when it was forced to close its second campus in neighboring Burundi due to that country's deteriorating political situation. The decision was made to bring many of the Burundian students into Akilah's Rwanda campus, and Moretti did a fundraiser to help cover tuition costs for the additional students. After visiting Akilah last year, she scheduled a visit down to the Mahama Refugee Camp for two days. According to Moretti, she wanted to witness first-hand the refugee situation as the Burundian mass exodus was a tragedy unfolding. It was during that trip that she discovered the spirited students of Mahama English Club.

"I was hooked," said Moretti. "The seriousness, dedication and sheer grit that these refugees showed in studying English while at the same time living in the most unimaginably difficult conditions as refugees was something hard to imagine. They needed help, and I decided I should and could do something."

The Mahama English Club currently has over 100 students, and each has his/her own life goals. In addition to the brand-imprinted solar hats, which provide light for students to read in the dark, Moretti and her team brought other supplies on their recent visit. These included English language workbooks, classroom copybooks, personalized leather notebooks, pens, pencils, sharpeners, inspirational posters, Oxford dictionaries, flash cards, books and magazines for a newly created library, and a few electronic devices. Moretti spent a session every day teaching technology, explaining the functionality and innovation behind these vital tools.

"The continuous support and passion Anne has for the Mahama English Club and the Burundian refugees is simply incredible," said Brad Kimmelman, manager of Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty's Scarsdale brokerage. "Her selflessness and devotion to the cause is an inspiration to all."

There are over two hundred more refugees waiting to join the English Club. For additional information, or to learn how to help support the Mahama English Club, please contact Anne Moretti at Anne.Moretti@Juliabfee.com.

Scarsdale Bowl Committee Seeks Nominations

DSC09018The Scarsdale Bowl Committee invites the community to nominate Scarsdale residents who would be worthy candidates for consideration as the honoree for the 2017 Scarsdale Bowl.

Nominations may be submitted to the Committee electronically on a confidential basis using the on-line form accessible on the Scarsdale Foundation website at ScarsdaleFoundation.org or by emailing the Committee at Scarbowl@gmail.com.

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