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TAxReliefWill Scarsdale taxpayers get any relief on payment of their real estate taxes due to the economic downturn? Some are calling for the Village to allow residents to pay their real estate taxes in installments or for the Village to waive late fees and interest charges for late payments. The Village taxes are due by July 31 and the school taxes are due by September 30 and each are payable in one lump sum

We asked Scarsdale Village Trustee Justin Arest for an update on what the Village might do to ease the burden on taxpayers. See what he said below:

His comments are followed by a letter to State Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin from the candidates for Village Trustee from the Voter’s Choice Party.

justinJustin Arest Comments from Scarsdale Village Trustee Justin Arest:

"The health and safety of our community has been the Village’s main priority since the beginning of this crisis. However, with the adoption of the FY20-21 budget looming, the Village Board has started with emergency measures to fill potential gaps in budgeted revenues."

Arest continued, "The Village has been looking into potential possibilities to find possible forms of tax relief and is trying to determine what its options might be before making announcements.” 

When pressed about whether the Village is doing anything specific that could impact the upcoming property tax deadline, he added, “I think reducing or even possibly eliminating interest penalties on property taxes for two months [as the County is discussing] is a great idea. Last week, the Mayor, Village Staff, and our Village Attorney started working to determine the legal and operational feasibility of providing some flexibility for our residents with regard to the timing of payment of Village property taxes. While we are actively looking into the potential to manage real estate tax late fees, we are also proceeding cautiously to ensure that there are no unintended consequences. Making an announcement every time we start to investigate or work on something might only add to the already high level of uncertainty our residents face, so we believe it prudent to do our due diligence first. There may also be actions required by the Village Board, so if this is a feasible option, we will discuss it at our next public meeting. I am hopeful we will have this and other positive items on our agenda for our April 14th Village Board Meeting that will include a Public Hearing on our Tentative 2020-2021 Village Budget. Stay tuned.”

The Voters Choice Party has appealed to State Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin with their suggestions on tax relief. See their letter below:

Letter from the Voters Choice Party candidates:

Robert J. Berg
32 Tisdale Road
Scarsdale, New York 10583
(914) 522-9455

April 4, 2020

By e-mail (
Hon. Andrea Stewart-Cousins
Temporary President and Majority Leader
New York State Senate
188 State Street, Room 907
Legislative Office Building
Albany, New York 12247

By e-mail (
Hon. Amy Paulin
Assemblywoman, District 88
New York State Assembly
Legislative Office Building 422
Albany, New York 12248

Re: Waiver of Statutory Late Fees and Installment Plans for Payment of 2020 Village and School Property Taxes

Dear Sen. Stewart-Cousins and Assemblywoman Paulin:

We hope that your families and you are safe and well during these very difficult days. We thank you for your service to our State and our Scarsdale community. As you well know, the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is hitting our State and our region particularly hard from both a health and an economic perspective. Our residents are struggling with collapsing businesses, job losses, and greatly depleted savings, while trying to protect their health and secure necessary food, supplies, and medicines safely for themselves and their families and neighbors. Meanwhile, the stream of bills, such as utility, rent, mortgage, repair, credit card, and car payments, flood in relentlessly. As we all juggle our finances to stay afloat, starting this month, we begin in the Village of Scarsdale the always daunting cycle of confronting our three sets of property tax bills – County, Village, and School District -- sadly, among the absolute highest in the entire country.VotersChoiceCandidatesSean Cohen, Robert Berg and Robert Selvaggio

Despite its reputation as one of the wealthiest communities in the nation, the reality is that fifty percent of our households earn below $250,000 annually. Of those households, the average annual income is just $146,000. While still high by statewide standards, the costs of housing, property taxes, and life in general in the Village of Scarsdale are steep and these “lower” household earners are the most susceptible to layoffs and reduced income during this crisis. Scarsdale residents at all wealth strata are badly affected by the depressed economy.

Against this frightening backdrop, the Village of Scarsdale and the Scarsdale Union Free School District are finalizing their budgets for their forthcoming fiscal years. Amidst the pandemic, the Village Board and the School Board are planning to raise their tax levies and tax rates to support their increased budgets – both by approximately 2% year over year. While we have urged both Boards to cut their budgets in order to give taxpayers some relief this year, they have rejected our recommendations.

But even if they do not reduce their budgets, perhaps, with your help (and the help of the Legislature and Governor), you can ease our cash flow problems by passing legislation that would waive the onerous statutorily-imposed late fees (interest) on property tax payments and allow for taxpayers to make proportionate installment payments (without any late fees) over the course of the next fiscal year to the Village and the School District based upon the cash flow needs of each entity.

Under our proposal, the State legislation would enable Towns, Villages, and School Districts to offer their taxpayers the option of paying their Town, Village, and/or School District property taxes in several installments over the next fiscal year without interest or penalty. Each governmental unit would be authorized to determine the appropriate proportional share of the tax levy required by the unit per installment to fund the unit’s budget for the particular period. By matching taxpayers’ payments more closely to the governmental units’ actual cash flow needs, taxpayers will be better able to manage their own finances during the inevitably challenging economic times over the next fiscal year. Our proposal would be for legislation that sunsets after one year, subject to renewal by the Legislature and Governor should economic conditions warrant. Moreover, our proposal would allow governmental units to opt out should they determine that the legislation unduly interferes with their cash flow requirements.

Thus, our proposal differs from the one presently being considered by the Westchester County Board of Legislators. The current version before the Board of Legislators seeks to offer taxpayers the opportunity to delay payment of their County property taxes (presently due by April 30, 2020) for one month with a .5% penalty if payment is made by May 31, 2020, or a 1% penalty if payment is made by July 15, 2020. Under the County proposal, Towns may opt out and Cities in Westchester County are not eligible to participate.

We look forward to your thoughts and comments.


Robert J. Berg
32 Tisdale Road
Scarsdale, NY

Sean D. Cohen
35 Chesterfield Road
Scarsdale, NY

Robert D. Selvaggio
16 Rochambeau Road
Scarsdale, NY

coronavThe Coronavirus is hanging in for longer than many had anticipated. The count of those infected continues to rise and the Village and the County are working to help as many as possible.

According to an April 1 note from Scarsdale Mayor Marc Samwick the County Department of Health now reports 93 confirmed COVID cases in Scarsdale. That’s a big jump from our last report of 59 cases as of March 30.

Samwick also conveyed the following update from Governor Cuomo:

The isolation protocol has been updated such that people infected with COVID-19 may end isolation if they meet ALL three of the following criteria:

-It has been 7 days since first experiencing symptoms;

-The patient has had no fever for at least 72 hours without taking fever-reducing medication, such as Tylenol; AND

-Any shortness of breath, coughing and difficulty breathing has improved.

Samwick notes that “Non-essential construction has been halted.” We walked by the Greenacres Elementary School which is on a tight construction timeline for completion by the opening of school in September and no work is going on. What will that do to the schedule?

Read more from the Mayor here

Westchester County Center Under Construction


As previously noted, the Westchester County Center is under construction to be used as a hospital for non-COVID-19 patients. The interior and the west parking lot will be set up to accommodate approximately 100 patients.

See the photo above of the work going on at the County Center to convert it to a hospital.

Also note the following:

Pick-up After Yourself and Your Dogs

poopGlovesinstreetWith spring in the air, daffodils, crocuses, cherry trees and magnolias are almost in bloom. Many of us are out walking – because what else can we do! Enjoy the flora and greet your neighbors – from six feet away. If you have a dog, be sure to pick up the poop –- we’ve seen too many bags littering our streets. In addition there are lots of plastic gloves left on the ground. Our Public Works Department is straining to maintain services and it’s up to you to help. Please don’t litter!

Pay Your Housekeeper and Nanny

Another reader asked us to remind residents to pay their nannies and housekeepers, even if they cannot let them into the house during the virus. He referenced several articles from the New York Times that note that since many of these workers are undocumented they cannot collect unemployment or benefit from a government bailout. They do not have paid sick leave and rely on you to keep them afloat.

Express Gratitude HopesDoor

(From Cynthia Samwick)
During this crisis, we are reminded of what truly matters in our lives - our health and safety and each other! We are blessed to live in such a special place as Scarsdale with our endless commitment to taking care of one another.

It is important to take the opportunity to thank those working tirelessly to ensure our safety and the wellbeing of our community. Anything from an email, handwritten note, or baked goods delivery shows our appreciation for their dedication and may even put a smile on their face during this period of immense stress.

Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corp
President - David Raizen
5 Weaver Street

Police Chief Andrew Matturro
50 Tompkins Road

Fire Chief James Seymour
50 Tompkins Road

Superintendent of Public Works
Jeff Coleman
110 Secor Road

YPPWhen the school district was forced to close suddenly earlier this month, Zachary Siegel, a junior at Scarsdale High School, saw more than a chance for some time off. Realizing that students would have time on their hands – and that he and his classmates had some vital skills to share, he decided to harness his coding skills, his high schools friends talents and Zoom online conferencing to found an e-learrning program. The program sets up Scarsdale High School students with middle school students to teach online courses in these uncertain times.

Dubbed “The Youth Passion Project” (YPP) the program gives high schoolers the opportunity to teach middle schoolers about their common interests by offering a wide variety of free courses in STEM, Humanities, and the Creative Arts, from Introduction to Java Programming to Moviemaking. YPP allows students to share passions with other students, but also to empower them to explore their interests in a way that they otherwise would not be able to given the unfortunate circumstances.

YPP has developed the courses so the curriculum is adaptable. Courses are free and will be available on ZOOM. Each instructor has developed their own curriculum. YPP is not affiliated or involved with the district, although Siegel has spoken to some teachers about the idea and they are all supportive.

Students will continue learning more until they are unable to offer the course (which would likely be once schools reopen again.) Siegel is considering the possibility of extending it once schools reopen, but that would likely be logistically more difficult.

How did he launch this impressive program and website so quickly? Siegel said, “Since we had limited time and Siegelwanted to launch quickly, we built the website on Wix. I learned to code in first grade largely independently. I saw my dad coding as a part of his job and wanted to learn how, so he introduced me to Scratch and I explored and learned on my own from there. From Scratch I moved to Java once I got to Middle school. Now I have experience with more languages like Python too.”

Have your middle school students sign up for courses by March 25. It’s free and offers a productive way to spend time while at home.

See their website here and follow them on Facebook here.

CountyCenterWork is underway at the Westchester County Center to convert it to a hospital to treat non-COVID-19 patients.County Executive George Latimer provided some local updates on the COVID-19 outbreak in Westchester in a press briefing on March 30.

Here are the most recent numbers according to Latimer:

-Westchester Cases: 9,326
-Westchester Tested: 34,108
-Total Hospitalizations (Cumulative): 378
-Total Hospitalized Currently in Westchester: 211
-Deaths: 19

The count in Scarsdale continues to climb as well. Latimer reported 59 positives as compared to 35 cases reported on March 23. Since that time the Scarsdale Medical Group has begun testing, so perhaps the higher count is due to the improved availability of testing.

Latimer also reported that the Westchester County Center is under construction to be used as a hospital for non-COVID-19 patients. The interior and the west parking lot will be set up to accommodate approximately 100 patients.

Above find a photo of the work going on at the County Center.

Here are the counts by municipality:

Ardsley 19
Bedford 28
Briarcliff Manor 14
Bronxville 20
Buchanan 4
Cortlandt 85
Croton-on-Hudson 16
Dobbs Ferry 42
Eastchester 70
Elmsford 13
Greenburgh 130
Harrison 52
Hastings-on-Hudson 19
Irvington 14
Larchmont 16
Lewisboro 16
Mamaroneck Town 31
Mamaroneck Village 30
Mount Kisco 50
Mount Pleasant 70
Mount Vernon 224
New Castle 35
New Rochelle 346
North Castle 27
North Salem 4
Ossining Town 18
Ossining Village 132
Peekskill 63
Pelham 22
Pelham Manor 21
Pleasantville 27
Port Chester 109
Pound Ridge 3
Rye Brook 31
Rye City 32
Scarsdale 59
Sleepy Hollow 34
Somers 24
Tarrytown 35
Tuckahoe 17
White Plains 154
Yonkers 508
Yorktown 89

watermeterHave you ever seen a sprinkler watering a lawn while it’s raining or right after a downpour and thought “what a waste of water”? This would not happen if the homeowner had installed a “smart” irrigation controller.

Unlike traditional irrigation controllers that operate on a preset programmed schedule and timers, “smart” irrigation controllers monitor weather, soil conditions, evaporation and plant water use to automatically adjust the watering schedule to actual conditions of the site. Using a WiFi connection, the smart controller accesses weather data from the internet to determine watering schedules. For example, if rain is forecast for the afternoon, the smart controller would automatically adjust your watering schedule.

Smart controllers replace the existing programmable timer on your sprinkler system to open and shut the water valves. Instead of following a set schedule, the sprinkler follows the weather forecast. Once these systems are installed and programmed correctly, they usually require little additional monitoring and will irrigate the landscape at peak efficiency at appropriate times. And, you can control the system from your phone. They are readily available, easy to install and cost between $100 and $300.

Scarsdale resident Seema Jaggi installed a smart controller last summer. "The smart sprinkler was easy to install and it's been easy to maintain. If I need to make any adjustments, I can use my phone instead of the irrigation panel in my basement. I also like that the system provides a watering history." Scarsdale resident David Fenigstein says he loves the fact that he’s using as little water as possible to maintain his lawn and shrubs, “It was easy to install the smart controller which automates much of the difficult part of setting up the watering schedule for each zone. I can oversee all the controls through an app on my phone making it convenient and simple to monitor usage. Then once it's programmed it operates on its own so I don't have to think about it.”

Smart irrigation controllers simplify lawn and garden care, and reduce water consumption and your water bill. For more information about smart controllers, please contact the Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council.

There is a permit requirement for lawn irrigation connections to the Village’s water system and rain sensors are also required for lawn irrigation systems. For more information please click here.

By Adie Shore, Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council Member

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