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Village Board Reviews Finances, Library Matters and More at January 26, 2021 Meeting

GormanInauguralMayor Marc Samwick opened the meeting of the Scarsdale Village Board of Trustees on Tuesday, January 26 by quoting several lines from "The Hill We Climb," the inspirational poem that Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old Youth Poet Laurette, wrote and beautifully delivered at President Biden’s inauguration last week:

“When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid,
the new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

This young woman’s powerful words touched millions of people across the nation and spoke to the depth of the challenges we face as a country. Mayor Samwick then transitioned to Scarsdale, emphasizing the importance of addressing both the short and long-term impact of the choices we make as we continue to deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Mayor praised the years-long prudent financial management of Scarsdale that resulted in having $4 million available to weather the expensive and unanticipated Covid-19 storm. He also underscored the importance of continuing to maintain the services and structures that define the character of the Village.

The Village currently has $7.35 million, or 13% of the budget in unassigned fund balance. Unfortunately, however, there remain substantial financial challenges for the Village to manage. There is a $1.3 mm or 2.2% increase in operating expenses this fiscal year. Personnel costs account for over 75% of the Village budget and Samwick said, "delivery of Village services remains a highly labor-intensive operation – from reviewing building plans, to planning and implementing recreation programs, to building and grounds maintenance, to performing marriage ceremonies."

A decline of $1.9 mm in revenues and a $1.3 mm increase in spending has resulted in a funding gap of $3.2 million, representing over 5% of the projected $60.5 million-dollar budget. Mayor Samwick stated that while a 4.87% increase in the tax levy would be required to balance that budget, “no one wants to see a tax increase of that magnitude.” Furthermore, he stated that the Village will work to develop solutions to bridge this gap and avoid implementing a tax increase of that nature.

Public Comment:

During public comments Scarsdale residents are given the chance to voice their concerns directly to the Board. Robert Harrison, a 40-year resident of Scarsdale, spoke about the financial strain faced by the Scarsdale Pool and the proposed 30% increase in the cost of pool permits. Rather than enact this steep rate increase he proposed offering pool memberships to members of the surrounding community on Garth Road at a higher rate than is charged for Scarsdale residents. Additionally, he suggested the Village offer membership to Scarsdale teachers, police officers, and firefighters so that rates do not have to be raised for Scarsdale residents. He projected this would lead to the sale of 100 extra permits which he projected would not overcrowd the facilities.

Mayor Samwick addressed Mr. Harrison’s remarks by stating that the Board is considering selling 100 non-resident permits. He responded by saying that the Board feels similarly to Mr. Harrison about the need to find creative solutions to finance the Scarsdale Pool without overcharging residents for pool permits. While the Scarsdale Pool's fund balance has been depleted, the Village is committed to developing solutions to keep the pool open and financially accessible for Scarsdale residents.

The final public comment was from Leah Dembitzer, the President of the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the League of Women Voters, the League recently hosted a panel titled “100 Years of Progress: Women in New York Politics.” Attending the virtual event was New York State Attorney General Letitia James, New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, and Westchester District Attorney Mimi Rocah. The panel was moderated by Janice Starr and the panelists discussed issues such as voting and systemic racism in New York. A full video of the event can be found HERE. Additionally, Ms. Dembitzer announced that the League published an updated They Represent You Brochure, which is a document containing the information on the elected officials in Scarsdale, Westchester County, New York State, and the Federal Government.

Trustee Liaison Reports:

Trustee Waldman delivered a report about the ongoings of the Scarsdale Library. The library has increased its virtual program offerings for all ages, and events can be found on the library’s updated website HERE. Parents are encouraged to ask for book recommendations for their children and can pick up books through the library’s contactless pick system.

This Friday, January 29, 2021, at 7:30 PM, the library is hosting a virtual book talk with Sydney Ladensohn Stern, the author of The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood Classics. The book tells the story of Herman J. and Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who wrote, produced, and directed over 150 motion pictures. The brothers were involved in projects such as Citizen Kane, All About Eve, Pride of the Yankees, and Guys and Dolls. Goodreads writes that "for this first dual portrait of the Mankiewicz brothers, Sydney Ladensohn Stern draws on interviews, letters, diaries, and other documents still in private hands to provide a uniquely intimate behind-the-scenes chronicle of the lives, loves, work, and relationship between these complex men." You can learn more and sign up for the virtual event HERE.

Next, Trustee Arest announced that the Christie Place commuter parking has been reprogrammed and it now offers 8-hour parking after 10:00 AM. Hopefully, he stated, this new improvement will be heavily used and will help increase parking revenue for the Village.

Finally, Trustee Waldman introduced two resolutions to the Board. The first was the Resolution Awarding VM Contract #1272 – Athletic Field Maintenance. Scarsdale Village typically contracts the maintenance of field properties to private companies and recently held a bidding process for a new contract as a previous contract expired. A total of eight companies bid for the contract, and the lowest bid came from ACL Property Maintenance. The resolution awarded this new contract to ACL Property Maintenance and the Board authorized the resolution.

The second resolution was the Resolution to Transfer the Principle from the Library Children’s Endowment to the Library Capital Campaign Account. Up to 10% of this Children’s Endowment can be used annually to enhance children’s resources and services at the library if authorized by the Board of Trustees. The Board approved the transfer of $26,572 from the Children’s Endowment to the Library’s Capital Campaign Account.

Written Communications- Rippy Philipps Field

One of the final agenda items for the meeting was Village Clerk Conkling announcing the written communications she has received from village residents. The item she received the most communications about was residents voicing their support for the renaming of Crossway Field to the Rippy Philipps Field. All written communications on this topic can be found HERE and below several messages of support from town residents have been included:

The Patrizio Family:

I am reaching out to express my family’s support of the acknowledgment of Coach Richard “Rippy” Philipps dedication to the Scarsdale Community. While we have relocated out of state, Scarsdale will always be home to our family. A major part of the strong connection we feel to Scarsdale began with our warm welcome to the Scarsdale Community by Rippy when my oldest son (now 26) signed up to participate in Scarsdale Youth Football Organization. Rippy embraced us new residents then and he continues to be connected to our family. We can think of no better way to show gratitude for his many years of service then to rename Crossways Field in his honor. Thank you for your consideration.

Mitchell Stone:

When it comes to naming Crossway Field after somebody, I cannot think of a more worthy recipient of this honor than Coach Rippy. Over the years no one has been more dedicated to Scarsdale athletics. Through his coaching and mentorship, he has instilled generations of Scarsdale children with values such as dedication, teamwork, and sportsmanship. He has been the ultimate role model and teacher, so writing this note of support was an easy decision.

Eileen Capone:

It is impossible to express my family’s indebtedness to Coach Rippy. He taught my sons to be both sportsmen and gentlemen; to bring passion, joy and camaraderie to the game and extend these pillars to life off the field; to be generous with their spirit and their time. Because of Coach Rippy’s largesse and commitment, my sons always felt special and felt like they mattered, even in their most trying times. I cannot think of a member of the Scarsdale community who is more deserving of this enduring honor and legacy.

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