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Mayor Asks for Patience and Vigilance

MarcSamwickThese comments were made by Mayor Marc Samwick at the Village Board meeting on January 12, 2021.

Good evening. With optimism and hope for a better 2021, I wish you and your families a healthy, happy and peaceful new year.

Last night, there was a serious car accident in Fox Meadow. Our thoughts and prayers are with the five teenagers that are hospitalized, and we wish each of them a speedy and complete recovery. We would also like to keep all of those who are sick or who have recently lost loved ones in our hearts. May the memories of those who have been lost be a blessing.

2020 was a shock, or more appropriately, a series of shocks to our community, as it was across the country and the globe. Over the past year, we have faced a pandemic, a lockdown, an economic downturn, racial injustice, a major tropical storm, a tumultuous national election and a constitutional crisis. We have been tested in many ways. We even had a black bear roaming through the Village.

In Scarsdale, we are fortunate that our Village continues to perform at a high level - though it certainly hasn’t been easy. Our manager-form of government continues to serve us well with part-time volunteer elected officials with term limits and a professional staff often with long-term tenures that bring experience and professionalism to the day-to-day management of Village operations. Over the past year, staff’s experience in managing varied emergencies, coupled with our history of conservative fiscal stewardship, laid the groundwork for Scarsdale to be in a favorable position to weather this series of storms.

Your Village government and professional staff quickly responded to each of the crises that arose in the Village and to shift operations and fiscal management to responsibly address the rapidly onset of each of these emergencies. On behalf of our community, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to our Village staff – from the extremely capable Village Manager who steered us through each of these crises with skill, poise and professionalism to our janitors who had radical shifts in their jobs and rolled up their sleeves and helped protect residents and staff with new and much more extensive cleaning protocols to our sanitation engineers that continued trash collection in spite to risks they never imagined they would face to so many more examples of heroism that were never expected.

I could literally go on for hours and share stories of how members of staff in every single department went well above and beyond the call of duty, faced a new unseen threat and expanded job descriptions and did so with grace and professionalism. Make no mistake, there have been and remain real strains that staff are under as a result of this series of challenges. I would like to again offer my sincere gratitude to each Village employee. Your work is important, and you have again shown your dedication to Scarsdale and its residents and we are clearly a better place because you are part of our community.

I also offer to residents the suggestion that you have patience when dealing with staff as they continue to work remotely or often in an understaffed office and they endure the ongoing strains of the pandemic. I also ask that you join me in thanking staff whenever you interact with them. Village government is here to serve you and Scarsdale is very fortunate to have an exceptional group of employees at the service of this great community.

It is also important that we continue to help our friends, neighbors and loved ones slow the spread of COVID-19 by adhering to the following guidelines:

• Wear a mask.
• Wash or sanitize your hands frequently.
• Avoid touching your face.
• Practice social distancing.
• Stay at home if you are not feeling well.
• Get a vaccine when it’s your turn and encourage others to do the same.

Undertaking these efforts, including encouraging children, teens, and young adults, will reduce the likelihood that more rigorous restrictions on businesses and our daily activities may need to be reinstated.

We’ve done a great job locally. Although the number of infections has risen meaningfully over the past couple of months with 83 currently active cases in Scarsdale, our active cases per capita remain well below those of many of our nearby neighbors. There is light at the end of the tunnel with vaccine rollouts continuing. While we are waiting for widespread vaccinations, please stay healthy and safe.

One of the most important responsibilities of the Village Board is to review and adopt the annual municipal budget. As elected officials and residents, we take the matter very seriously. As you may know, Village staff undertake substantial effort to present a proposed budget that is both fiscally conservative and responsive to community needs. This is a difficult balance to achieve in most years, but an exceptionally challenging task amidst a continuing pandemic. We are very fortunate to have a long history of responsible fiscal stewardship that has provided us with a number of levers with which we can manage these challenging fiscal times. Our long-term fiscal discipline has provided us with the fiscal flexibility to manage through this economic downturn.

Importantly, budget development is a public process, and all residents are encouraged to participate. It is also a way to understand necessary trade-offs and help determine the impact of such decisions on local property taxes and level of municipal services provided.

Because of broad economic uncertainties and certain budget impacts related to COVID-19, this year’s budget process started a month early. All department heads were directed to be mindful of the revenue picture and present alternative cost reduction scenarios. The initial public meetings involving discussion of the proposed budget with the Village Board start with our first pass budget meeting next Thursday, January 21st at 5pm and all are encouraged to attend via Zoom.

In fact, all budget meetings are planned to be via Zoom. The notice and agenda for each budget meeting is available on the Village’s website. Staff are committed to posting each meeting’s materials online in advance, as soon as practical ahead of the meeting. Please also note that a consolidated summary of the Budget Schedule is available on the Village Treasurer’s Budget Webpage.

I look forward to an engaged community participation in development of the FY 21-22 Village Budget.

As we begin this new year filled with its new offerings and responsibilities, let us draw strength from our extraordinary community and use our own strength to bolster and support one another.

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