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You are here: Home Section Table Village Voices Village Board Reviews Halloween, Hears Comments on the Village Election and Goodbyes for Village Treasurer Mary Lou McClure
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Village Board Reviews Halloween, Hears Comments on the Village Election and Goodbyes for Village Treasurer Mary Lou McClure

TrusteesSwornInTrustees Justin Arest, Lena Crandall and Randall Whitestone were sworn in on September 18.Halloween, fall leaf collection, the Village election and kind words for departing Trustee Jane Veron and retiring Village Treasurer Mary Lou McClure were all discussed at the Scarsdale Village Board meeting on Tuesday September 22, 2020.

The three trustees who won the election, Justin Arest, Lena Crandall and Randall Whitestone were sworn in on September 18, and the Mayor welcomed Whitestone to his first Village Board Meeting. He said Whitestone was collaborative, open minded and a creative problem solver and looked forward to working with him.

The Mayor congratulated 2020 Scarsdale Bowl recipients Jon Mark and BK Munguia who will be honored at a small reception on Thursday night September 24. He said, “It’s not the honor they envisioned but it recognizes the outstanding work Jon and BK have done for the Village. We owe you a debt of gratitude and congratulate you on receiving the Scarsdale Bowl, our communities highest honor for volunteers.”

He continued, “Also on Thursday, we will hold the first meeting of the Police Reform and Reinvention Committee as mandated by the Governor’s orders. He has tasked each Village with reviewing their police department and making recommendations that are in keeping with the municipality. That effort will begin on September 24 and must be completed by April 2021.”

The Mayor said that the Board will hold an organizational meeting and Trustee Justin Arest will be named Deputy Mayor. Samwick plans to implement portfolios for trustees and invited input before the meeting.

Halloweenhall136

Village Manager Steve Pappalardo announced that the Village had just received guidelines from the CDC about Halloween, and asked residents to follow them. He said that Halloween “may take place in Scarsdale for those who wish to participate. It is an individual decision for children and their parents.” He cautioned, “The CDC says trick or treating is a high-risk activity for spreading the virus and recommends that residents also avoid trunk or treating where candy is handed out from car trunks, attending crowded parties, and going on hayrides with people outside your household.”

Instead, the CDC recommends lining up individual treat bags for families to grab and go while maintaining social distancing or engaging in moderate risk events like attending an outdoor costume party while wearing masks. Low risk activities include household parties, outdoor pumpkin carving, outdoor scavenger hunts, virtual costume parties and a Halloween movie night with your family.

Pappalardo said, “The Village recommends that families follow the CDC recommendations for low risk activities.”

However he said if you do decide to treat or treat please:

Do it in small groups or with your family.

Do not wear a costume mask over a protective mask as it will be difficult to breathe.

Wear bright reflective clothing and consider armbands

Trick or treat during daylight hours or no later than dusk

Carry hand sanitzer and use it frequently after receiving candy at individual homes

Follow all COVID safety protocols and traffic rules.

Leaf Pick-up

Fall leaf collection begins October 19 and will end on December 11, 2020. The Villlage will collect leaves, loose at the curb using vacuum trucks. Collections will be done 3-4 times during the season at each home. Tree branches must be tied or bagged and placed at the curb for weekly collection. Leaves can be brought to the recycling center and the fees are waived if landscapers pre-register with the Village. Recycling bags are available at the recycling center at a discounted rate. Loose leaves on the street are a traffic hazard and can cause flooding. Residents are encouraged to mulch/mow their leaves on site. It will fertilize the loan and help the environment.

mcclureVillage Treasurer Mary Lou McClureMary Lou McClure and Jane Veron

Several speakers had parting messages for retiring Village Treasurer Mary Lou McClure and the Mayor spoke first saying, “She deserves a lot of kind words for the outstanding work she has done. We just finished work with our auditors who said a number of times how strong our finance department is and that begins with Mary Lou. She is the bests of our Village and our employees. She shows enormous dedication, intelligence and we are better as a Village because of all she has done for us.”

Village Manager Steve Pappalardo said, “I could wax poetic about Mary Lou. I am still hoping that the retirement party for Mary Lou that has been planned and cancelled twice will take place and I can make my comments at that joyous occasion.”

Trustee Justin Arest said, ““Mary Lou, I have not kept my admiration and appreciation for you a secret, especially recently, but I would remiss if I did not thank you again and tell you how much you will be missed. You have gone above and beyond, and not just over the past year, but especially over the past year. You have guided us in your retirement when we needed you most and allowed us to find someone worthy of your role. I also want to note that your accessibility and kindness is known not only to Trustees but to residents as well, as clearly evidenced in the comments made during public comments. And I was the grateful beneficiary for years prior to my service on this Board and cannot thank you enough for helping me and teaching me so much.”

Trustee Lena Crandall echoed the comments about McClure and thanked her for answering all her questions over the years and told her to “enjoy life.”

Trustee Seth Ross said, “A more than deserved tribute to Mary Lou. Your management of Village finances has been lauded by many and certainly deserves all the feedback. On a personal note I remember going to you with questions about expenditures and receiving not only clear responses but each time an education in the facts underlying your responses. I am a more knowledgeable trustee as a direct result of your willingness to go above and beyond what is asked of you. Best of everything in your retirement.”

Trustee Jonathan Lewis said, “Mary Lou, without good data and reporting we could not do our jobs properly. Your hard work is the foundation of civic dialogue about important issues. Thank you for your service and dedication to Scarsdale.”

Trustee Rochelle Waldman echoed what the other residents and trustees said and wished McClure well. She said, “You have taught me an incredible amount, including the meeting we had this morning to go over the bills I audited this weekend. Good luck to you in your retirement.”

Randall Whitestone called Mary Lou McClure, “top knotch.”

Dara Gruenberg added, “Mary Lou thank for your exceptional service and dedication to our village. Working with you had been such an honor and a pleasure. I know I speak for many volunteers when I say we do our work not just to better our community but also because of the relationships we foster. You are one of those individuals. You went above and beyond to help me personally two years ago when I chaired the League’s budget portfolio. I must admit one of the reasons I volunteered to take on that daunting role was because I knew I would be able to go to you for support and help. Your grandchildren are very lucky to be able to have more of your time. Their gain is our loss. Thank you again for caring for our village so meticulously.”

Speaking on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale, Leah Dembitzer said, “The League Board wishes to extend thanks to our Village Treasurer, Mary Lou McClure. Mary Lou is our Village’s secret gem. Mary Lou, you are smart, professional and giving with your time and knowledge and, according to our Board, you are one of the nicest people with whom we have had the pleasure to work. Your financial acumen, attention to detail and organizational skills have served our Village well for these many years. Mary Lou, the League Board will miss you dearly and we wish you much happiness in your future endeavors.”

Margot Milberg thanked McClure on behalf of the Board of the Scarsdale Library saying, you are “patient, calm and helpful, with wonderful attention to detail and a steward of library funds. We want to wish you must success in your retirement.”

Robert Berg thanked Mary Lou McClure, patient, calm and helpful, wonderful attention to detail and a steward of library funds. We want to wish you much success in your retirement.

About Trustee Jane Veron, who just completed four and half years of service on the Village Board, Milberg said, “Speaking on behalf of the Scarsdale Public Library Board of Trustees. Jane you have always been an ally, advocated and trusted advisor for the library. You were instrumental in getting the library approved by the village. You believed in the project and shared the vision in what a reimagined library could look like. You are a true friend of Scarsdale and the library. We look forward to seeing you at 54 Olmstead.

Leah Dembitzer said, “The League Board would like to extend thanks to Jane Veron for her years of dedicated work on the Village Board. Jane, I hope that you are listening so that I may speak directly to you. Jane, you have worked tirelessly for our community with a dedication to revitalizing our Village Center. You are a unique community leader: poised, thoughtful, patient and professional. Your ability to reach out to the community, to ask questions and to listen thoughtfully has served us well. The League Board is deeply grateful for all of your work as Trustee in service of our village and community; and we wish you all the best in your future endeavors.”

Madelaine Eppenstein congratulated Trustee Veron and Mary Lou McClure for everything they have done for the Village over the many years. She said, “I want to express my gratitude to both for their generosity and their effort, Their cordial approach to helping residents and community groups is without equal. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.”

Public Comments

Calling in during public comments, Robert Berg and his daughter Zoe Berg spoke about the election that took place on September 15, 2020.

Robert Berg thanked Village Clerk Donna Conkling for running a safe, contested election on September 15. He said, “It was wonderful to see nearly 2,000 residents come out to vote. We are proud to bring democratic elections to Scarsdale, complete with traditional lawn signs, doorhangers, and door to door campaigning. I congratulate the winners and wish them well and want to thank our supporters for letting the Village know that there are critical issues that are not being addressed by the Village Board and staff. They are watching and we will continue to hold the Village accountable to the public.”

He continued, “We are facing extraordinarily challenging times and need transparency in our Village government. I am very disturbed by the lawless acts of the Village in refusing to produce the documents that we requested under the FOIL law in April until the Friday before the election, September 11 even though the Village attorney advised the Village that there was no basis under the law for withholding those documents nearly five months earlier. I am referring to Mr. Selvaggio’s FOIL request for the Notify Me email list. He served that FOIL on April 24 which was precipitated by the Mayor’s attacks on the VCP’s candidate on April 23 using the Notify Me system. We heard nothing for months. We followed up in July and were told that the Village was seeking an opinion from the Committee on Open Governance. In September we followed up again and were told that we would get the documents as long as Mr. Selvaggio signed a certification that he would not use the materials for solicitation or fundraising. “

“….There are no ifs, ands or buts about the FOIL law and yet you tried to delay, you did delay and then you sat on it for another two months. You violated the law. I saw that Marc has requested a change in the law. Was this a resolution from the Village Board? I hope the new board acts in a much more open manner.”

The Mayor responded to Berg and explained that the FOIL request was more complex than Berg had indicated and involved issues of cyber security, privacy and public trust in government. He said, “It was not taken lightly as our primary function is to protect our residents and that includes their privacy and their email addresses. We explored whatever avenues were possible to protect our residents”

Berg’s daughter Zoe also spoke and said she would have hoped that “the little town of Scarsdale would have been a place of refuge.” She said, “That has not been the case since we started challenging Scarsdale’s broken nominating process. As many of you know, my dad ran for trustee and we worked hard to raise awareness about serious issues. One way to raise awareness is to use political signs. My dad and I drove around placing signs only to realize that some of the signs had been stolen, thrown on the ground or stepped on. I would shake my head thinking, “are we in middle school?” In the end my dad filed three police reports and had hundreds of dollars of signs stolen.”

“On election day my dad and I had some complications voting because we had just moved to Quaker Ridge and our March absentee ballots were no longer valid. We had to wait about 20 minutes before we could vote because the election inspectors had to resolve the complications. As we were waiting, a young man walked uncomfortably close to me and said in my ear, “You know, my penis has been bothering me lately – it must be the 5G.” He and his mother walked off before I could say anything. Both my dad and I were speechless.”

“Minutes after the incident by dad and filled out his ballot and waited for me so we could walk out of the polling place together. After casting my vote I looked for my dad, only to see a poll watcher who will remain nameless screaming at my dad saying he was canvassing at the polling place and would call the police to escort him out. All he did was vote and all he wanted to do was walk out of the polling place.”

She concluded by asking, “Are we Scarsdale?”

The Mayor responded and said no one on the Village Board of Trustees was involved in the voting incident. He said, “This is an elected board and we respect the law.”

Later in the meeting Trustee Lena Crandall apologized to Zoe Berg for the comment and thanked her for her advocacy around the 5G issue. Crandall said, “Voting is our most precious right.” She thanked everyone for coming out to vote and said, “we represent everyone.” She recommended that voters take advantage of the early polling dates for the November election.

Trustee Lewis said to Zoe Berg, “I am appalled by what you described and very disturbed to hear about this incident.”

In other business, Trustee Justin Arest provided a statement of expenses and revenues.

About Village finances he said, “We had a meeting with our Auditors, PKF O'Connor Davies, prior to this meeting at 6pm, regarding our FY 19-20 financials statements. PKF presented its findings with the results being positive. I encourage anyone who might have been unable to attend the 6pm meeting to watch the recording and as always feel free to reach out with any comments or questions. Some items that were highlighted included our unassigned fund balance at the end of the FY compared to 20-21 expenditures was just above 14%. Our policy has been to keep that number between 10 and 15% while the GOA recommends something closer to 17%. Our debt service is approximately 3% of our budget. PKF advised that many other municipalities they work with have that figure at 8% or higher and commended our use of fund balance for capital projects. We also discussed GASB 75 and how even though OPEB liabilities are treated as pay as we go, they must be accounted for into the long term despite the lack of an allowable funding mechanism. If that does not make sense to anyone, please feel free to reach out. Bottom line, understanding that we are living through challenging health and financial times, we are in good financial health.”

Investment Policy

Trustee Arest read a resolution adopting the 2020-21 Village Investment Policy. All trustees voted aye with the exception of Trustee Lewis who voted no to the resolution because the trustees no longer have a finance committee to review the investment policy.

Lewis said, “The proposed investment guidelines govern how we invest public funds, monitor compliance with the guidelines, and implement a governance structure for the investment of public money. Process drives governance, compliance, and performance. I disagree with the language in the resolution that states the changes are primarily housekeeping in nature - there are changes that are substantive and from my perspective weaken governance, compliance, and reduce the probability of performance. The proposed guidelines eliminate a standing investment committee and a standing finance committee. Those committees ceased to meet regularly in early 2019, and in my view the ad hoc work sessions that have replaced them have not fully met all of the objectives of good governance with its emphasis on public discussion, debate that improves ideas, and public deliberation. There should be board discussion about whether or not the experiment of eliminating committees has improved governance or not, and if there should be further reform. We have not met to discuss investments or discuss compliance with guidelines at any point in 2020 as a board in a working session or as a committee. We have had no substantive, public conversations in 2020 about the limitations we set for the institutions we can use, how those limits relate to either credit quality, or return. I believe the revisions to these guidelines institutionalize an ad hoc approach to governance and weaken the Treasurer's requirement to establish written procedures. I believe the experience of the past year and half suggests we need finance and investment committees that meet on a regularly scheduled basis, especially in a financial crisis. I cannot vote for an ad hoc approach when it comes to the oversight of public money. I vote no.”

Sidewalks

In other business, the Village Board will hold a public hearing on October 13 on amending Village Code on sidewalk cafes to allow them to operate through December 31, 2020 and to allow the sale of merchandise on sidewalks through the end of the year.

Water System Master Plan

Trustee Lewis read a resolution to execute a professional services agreement for the development of a water system master plan comprised of hydraulic modeling, water distribution system mapping, and development of a 25-year capital plan, The plan will identify the most efficient means of connecting our water system with other resources. Much of Scarsdale’s water system is over 100 years old and is badly in need of attention. The agreement grants the work to Woodard and Curran Engineering for a fee of $79,400.

New Village Treasurer

The Board appointed a new Village Treasurer to replace Mary Lou McClure. Anne Marie Scaglione was appointed Village Treasurer. She is a CPA and has served as the Comptroller of the City of Peekskill since July 2014.

Gifts

The Village accepted a gift of $500 from Mr. YeWang and Mr.s Helen Ni of 7 Church Lane for the Scarsdale Fire Department.

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