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Mayor Veron Outlines Plans, Board Holds Budget Hearings and Announces Assignments to Board and Councils

scarsdalevillagehallNewly elected Mayor Jane Veron presided over the first Business Meeting of the 2021-2022 Board of Trustees on April 13, 2021. After welcoming new members Karen Brew and Sameer Ahuja, and reelected member Jonathan Lewis, Mayor Veron praised retired trustees Seth Ross, Rochelle Waldman, and Mayor Samwick for their dedication during such a tumultuous year. Next, she moved to discuss the agenda for her term as Mayor.

Mayor Veron announced the reinstatement of regular public work sessions on Tuesdays at 5:00 pm and reintroduced her new framework for governing. Stating that “the goal of the framework is to give a structure to our work and to assign concrete roles and responsibilities,” Mayor Veron outlined the structure’s four pillars of government: 1. Quality of Life, 2. Infrastructure Municipal Services & Sustainability, 3. Public Safety, 4. Economic Development & Land Use. She then identified four additional categories for dividing government work: Technology, Communication, Personnel, and Law. Each of these categories is assigned a Trustee Chair who will have primary oversight for the work.

Below is an excerpt from the Mayor’s statement:

Our objective is to develop a comprehensive strategic and financial plan guided by our vision for Scarsdale. We fully anticipate that we will need to develop a new approach to budgeting, investing, and spending. We cannot assume that there will be a return to normalcy, and we must be prepared. To that end, we have invited our Village Treasurer to our next work session on April 20 to help us consider paths to reengineer the budget and financial planning process. Instead of waiting until next year’s budgeting cycle, our board is starting now.

I fully anticipate that at the end of the planning work sessions, the Board will outline short and long term priorities. In the interim, we will immediately kick off two additional special assignments, one focused on the Pool Complex and the other on Complete Streets/Village Center. Finally, guided by our professional colleagues at GovHR, this board is diligently leading the Village Manager search. We have already done extensive outreach to the community to seek input. In fact, we have a special committee focused solely on communications for this effort.”

Additionally, Mayor Veron updated the community on the status of the gas-powered leaf blower ban that takes effect on May 1, 2021. She stated:

The expanded ban prohibits the use of gas-powered leaf blowers from May 01, 2021, through September 30, 2021. During leaf season, October 01, 2021, through December 31, 2021, the use of gas-powered leaf blowers is authorized only Monday through Friday, except federal holidays, when gas-powered leaf blowers are also prohibited.

Beginning in 2022 and each year thereafter, the ban on gas-powered leaf blowers will run from January 01 through September 30. Please also note that from October 01 through December 31, gas-powered leaf blowers shall only be permitted Tuesdays through Fridays, except federal holidays, when gas-powered leaf blowers are also prohibited – Monday usage will no longer be authorized after January 01, 2022.

To help make sure our residents are aware of the recent amendments to our local law further restricting the use of gas-powered leaf blowers, staff will undertake a variety of communication strategies, including issuing a press release, Tweeting information, inserting a notice into the May 01 water bills, and completing a direct mailing to landscapers on record with the Village.

Importantly, property owners are responsible for the actions of their landscaping company. As such, a violation of the gas-powered leaf blower local law will result in the property owner, landscaping company, and individual operator of the prohibited equipment receiving a summons. During the month of May, enforcement personnel will be distributing warning notices to landscapers and homeowners, though repeat offenders may also receive a summons.”

The Mayor also announced the relaunch of her Twitter and Instagram accounts - You can find her @MayorJaneVeron.

Following Mayor Veron, Village Manager Pappalardo announced and congratulated Scarsdale Police Chief Andrew Matturro for his professional leadership appointment as the President of the Westchester County Police Chiefs. He also congratulated all those who participated in person and virtually in Scarsdale's 15K/4M Road Race this past week.

Public Hearing: 2021-2022 Tentative Budget

During the public hearing on the tentative budget for the coming fiscal year, the trustees heard from four residents who each supported the budget and also brought their concerns to the Board’s attention. The first speaker was Diane Gurden, who spoke on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale. Here are excerpts from their statement:

The League supports the Scarsdale Village Proposed Budget for 2021-22. The League offers its comments and recommendations regarding certain budgetary items as well as the budget process, which we hope will be considered as this year’s Budget is revised and finalized, and in the future.

The League commends the Board and the Administration for their strategic pivot with the 2020-21 Budget, where they both created the COVID-19 Reserve to cover unknown pandemic expenses and instituted austerity spending to control costs. This strategy has allowed the 2021-22 Fund Balance to stay within the acceptable range of 10-15% of General Fund expenditures. The League recognizes that the new Village Treasurer Ann Scaglione and the Village Superintendents have worked tirelessly to present multiple financial scenarios to support the budget decision making process. In addition, the League acknowledges that having former Village Treasurer Mary Lou McClure’s invaluable experience made available during the new treasurer’s transition period provided critical stability.

The League acknowledges that future revenue streams are uncertain but is concerned by the continued reliance on austerity budgeting without a more clearly defined longer range plan for the projects being deferred. The League is specifically concerned about the aging infrastructure of Village Hall, the headquarters of our Village staff, court and government. For the past five years, the aging and deteriorating Village Hall building has been identified by the League as a major issue that needs to be addressed by the Board.

As per the Village Manager, in order to focus on pedestrian and cyclist safety as well as traffic circulation in the Village Center, the Budget includes a $100,000 appropriation to “undertake a major study to identify publicly supported alternatives for improving safety for all Village Center transportation network users, enhancing the relationship between our transportation network and our valuable public spaces, and for new traffic circulation alternatives…” The League values the Board’s initiation of a community supported plan for the Village Center considering various modes of transportation that will support pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles in a safe, convenient, and appealing environment.

The League acknowledges the Board’s use of Advisory Committees and Task Forces as a valuable tool to leverage and engage the community in decision-making. However, the League encourages more transparency related to the formation of these committees and a more proactive outreach into the community to publicize and fill committee positions. More visibility into Advisory Committee and Task Force meeting goals, content, and action plans is also desirable.

The League understands that in-person Board meetings may return in the near future but COVID-19 safety constraints will limit the number of residents who may attend. The League believes that community engagement and proactive discourse is essential to Board work and encourages the Board to find ways to make public access to meetings and meeting information a priority, even after COVID-19 constraints have been removed. Recorded videos of working sessions, if moved back to the Trustee Room, are essential for the community to understand the Village Budget evolution and process.

The Board also heard from residents Madelaine Eppenstein, Bob Harrison, and Robert Berg. Ms. Eppenstein stated that she was “disappointed…. that the board up until now may not have done enough to reduce the tax rate increase.” Bob Harrison and Robert Berg echoed this sentiment, with Harrison stating that he believes that federal government funds designated to Scarsdale through the American Rescue Plan could be used more creatively to ease the burden on taxpayers. Mr. Berg stated that he believes “this budged cycle was a lost opportunity,” as he saw many areas for cutting costs that were not taken advantage of. He was also frustrated that early work sessions did not allow for public comment, and that when a public comment period was added, residents were limited to only 3 minutes of speaking time.

Deputy Mayor Arest addressed these concerns by expressing that the Board has the full intent of turning the budgeting process into a 12-month project to garner as much community input as possible. Mayor Veron also emphasized this sentiment by firmly declaring her intent to begin next year's process much earlier and dedicating a committee to this effort.

Rhett Needleman, a Scarsdale High School student also spoke during Public Comment about the importance of recognizing severe allergies in the community. As a teenager who suffers from serious food allergies, he proposed that the Board declare a Food Allergy Awareness week in Scarsdale to make a difference on this issue.

Annual Board Resolutions, Appointments, and Assignments

After assigning each Trustee to various liaison-ships with Scarsdale volunteer boards and committees, Mayor Veron allocated which portion of Scarsdale each Trustee will be responsible for. Next, various village administrative positions were nominated and appointed, including the approval of Steve Pappalardo as the Village Manager for his 33rd year.

Next, the Trustees approved the new members selected for Scarsdale’s 18 volunteer boards and councils. New volunteers were approved for each committee, including the Board of Appeals, the Library Board, The Council for People with Disabilities, The Advisory Council on Senior Citizens, the Arts Advisory Council, the Conservation Advisory Council, the Committee for Historic Preservation, the Advisory Council on Human Relations, and the Advisory Council on Parks and Recreation. See who was appointed here:

Following the appointments, the Board approved three resolutions. The first was to execute an agreement with Woodward & Curran Engineering and Geological Services, which will handle the short-term needs of Scarsdale’s water enterprise fund as well as develop a 10-year plan for water rates. The second resolution awarded a renewal of a preferred source agreement with New York State Industries for the Disabled, which will provide services through Alternative Earthcare Tree and Lawn Systems, to maintain and improve the quality of Scarsdale’s public fields. The third resolution granted a contract to furnish and deliver Scarsdale pool maintenance supplies to Streamline Aquatics LLC.

We received the following letter from Bob Harrison concerning the Village Budget:

To the Editor :

Do Scarsdale residents know that our Village is getting $ 1.96 million from the American Rescue Plan and the US Congress with one half or $989,000 coming in the next 60 + days in our new fiscal budget year starting June first .

Will Scarsdale taxpayers get a tax break in their high property taxes in the coming fiscal year ? At the moment the answer is NO as the Village Board's tentative budget has a tax increase of 2.99 %. It is time for our new Mayor and two new elected trustees and the entire Board to reduce any Village tax increase to less than 2 % and take into account the $ 1.96 million of new money coming into Village coffers. Every $ 400,000 can the reduce the Village tax increase by 1 %.

Do Scarsdale tax payers want lower taxes then NOW is the time to act . Send your protest emails against a 2.99 % Village tax increase to and ( our village clerk ) and Bob Harrison at proscars@aol.comor call 914 725-0962 or send a text to 914 646-4054 (cell).

The proposed tax increase for the coming year school tax is only + 1.93 % .Remember that that every tax increase compounds over time and that is why we taxpayers have to keep any tax increase at a minimum !!!

Bob Harrison , Chairman
Scarsdale Taxpayer Alert
65 Fox Meadow Road
Scarsdale , NY 10583

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