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teenvaccineExciting Vaccination News: In the next two weeks, all residents, ages 16 years and up, will be eligible to receive the vaccine. New York State has announced that beginning Tuesday March 30, anyone aged 30 and up is eligible to sign up, and starting April 6, this mandate will be lowered to all residents 16 and up.

Vaccine supplies are up as well. White Plains Hospital received 1,000 doses to administer this week and some Westchester pharmacies are receiving the one dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine. You can find all vaccination sites in Westchester here:

On March 29, County Executive George Latimer announced that even though the County does still not have sufficient doses to meet demand, many vaccines are being administered.

Currently, 15% are of Westchester residents are fully vaccinated and another 15% have had their first shot. In the next few weeks Latimer expects that 30% of all Westchester residents will be vaccinated.

The numbers of active cases, which were declining, have gone up a bit in the past two weeks. There are currently 5,760 active cases, which is still down from 10,812 at the end of January, but slightly up over the past two weeks. It is assumed that variants of the virus are more communicable and can be blamed for the uptick.

259 are now hospitalized and 23 people died in the past week. Latimer warned, “We are not out of the woods. The numbers are not as encouraging as we hoped they would be. We all have pandemic fatigue.”

covidmapAlmost a third of Westchester County residents have now been vaccinated, with 150,000 receiving both doses and 289,000 at least one dose. At his weekly briefing on Monday March 22, County Executive George Latimer also reported that the active case count in Westchester is at 5,036 and 256 are now in the hospital due to COVID. A total of 2,168 have died due to the virus, with 22 last week. Latimer said the number of COVID cases is coming down steadily, but not dropping dramatically.

In other vaccine news, New York State has now cleared the way for those 50 or older to be vaccinated. In addition people of any age who have a co-morbidity can schedule a vaccination appointment. The state has authorized pharmacies to vaccinate people with co-morbidities, expanding the available vaccination sites.

Last, senior citizens and anyone who is disabled can get a free ride to and from their vaccination appointment from Westchester Paratransit. In order to schedule a ride, call (914) 995-7272 at least 24 hours before your appointment.

ARP distroGood news from the U.S. Congress may help cash-strapped local villages to close their budget gaps. At a work session of the Village Board on Tuesday March 9, Scarsdale Mayor Marc Samwick announced that the American Rescue Plan, President Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, might provide $1.9 million in relief funds to Scarsdale. Samwick learned the good news from NYS Senator Chuck Schumer.

The funds will be payable in two installments, with the first expected within 60-90 days after the bill is signed, and the second payment to come exactly one year after the first. There are restrictions on the use of these funds; For example, the money must be used to respond to the effects of the pandemic and cannot cover the cost of pension funds or reduce an increase in the tax levy. They can be used to support workers' needs, cover revenue losses, or invest in infrastructure projects.

Mayor Samwick then reviewed the past fiscal year and announced an expected revenue shortfall of $2.4 million from decreased parking revenue and sales tax revenue, and several other sources. While the Village set aside $2.225 million to cover the current and future revenue shortfalls from the pandemic, these funds from the federal government will help Scarsdale manage and recover from the losses experienced over this past year. Village Manager Pappalardo believes that if managed properly, it will take three years to fully recover from the pandemic’s fiscal impact.

What to do with the windfall? Samwick suggested that the Board use this money to restore the salary increases of non-unionized Village employees. Each year, Village employees receive a standard 2% salary increase, but this year these employees agreed to forgo their raises. The Mayor asked the Board to use the federal funds to restore these salary increase retroactive to June 1, 2020 which would cost approximately $70,000 of the $1.9 million allocated to Scarsdale.

He emphasized that “it would be a strong statement for those who have sacrificed so much and for those who have done so much for the Village” during such a stressful and chaotic time. He also stated that “seeing what staff has been through, the struggles they have enduring and continue to endure, I think it is very important to show our deep appreciation for our staff.”

Trustee Crandall expressed her enthusiasm for this idea and said that she "fully supports the proposal to restore the 2% increase for non-unionized employees. For all that they have done, it's incredible." She added that the money "might help with morale issues. We are a team here and I think it's a great idea." Trustee Waldman agreed.

Trustee Arest was caught off guard by the proposal and said he felt “like a deer in headlights.” He said he would “like to think about the retroactive increase as opposed to a [salary] bonus… I fully appreciate staff… [but] we need to be responsible… this money will obviously give us the ability to reallocate things, the idea that we can’t help taxpayers but the first thing we are going to do, without real process here, is to just make a decision, before even making a decision, is concerning to me.” He concluded by saying that he is not against the proposal but that he needs more time to consider the implications.

Trustee Lewis mirrored some of Trustee Arest’s concerns. He said “it comes from a good place, and we have people who have served well… I share your spirit. [But] I do believe the conversation begins with [the question]: What is the tax rate that we think is appropriate based on what we know? I think [the proposed rate of] 3.4% is too high… I don’t think the first dollars should be about salary increases, I think it should be about tax relief.”

Trustee Whitestone spoke next and said that “we have a lot of wants and needs competing for these dollars. One is a lower tax rate, one is to show appreciation for our amazing staff… I believe we have taken a very thoughtful and careful approach analyzing each item [in the budget thus far] and this wasn’t on our radar.” Similar to Trustee Arest, Trustee Whitestone requested more time to understand the impact of the salary increases.

Next, Trustee Crandall spoke again in support of the proposal and stated that “when the Board originally spoke about holding off on the 2% increase, what I understood was that we would eventually restore it… The way [Mayor Samwick] conditioned the proposal, the 2% would only be restored if the American Rescue Plan is passed and therefore there wouldn’t be an increase on the tax levy… so I am sticking with my position based on what [Mayor Samwick] said.” She concluded by adding that “our strength as a Village comes from our staff in Village Hall… without them helping, we would be in trouble. It is our partnership working with them that makes things smooth. I feel strongly that we should look to do this as [Mayor Samwick] proposed conditioned upon receiving that money.”

Based on the expressed concerns by various Board members, Mayor Samwick asked Village Treasurer Scaglione if she could put together a memo to help the Board understand the overall impact of implementing this retroactive salary increase. This information will be presented at the next meeting on Monday, March 15th, and the discussion will resume.

Penalties and Fees for Late Tax Payments

Next, Trustee Lewis turned the Board's attention to the late fees that will be collected from a group of residents who did not pay their taxes on time. Village Treasurer Scaglione announced that the Village has collected $300,000 of outstanding school taxes to date. Manager Pappalardo added that he has spoken with several aggrieved residents who are concerned about the penalties and the two-part tax collection process this year.

Trustee Crandall asked for an update regarding the potential for the Governor to provide relief on these late fees. Manager Pappalardo stated that due to the winter storm, the Governor declared a State of Emergency on February 1, 2021. This opened the possibility for Scarsdale to request an executive order from the state that would allow the municipality to provide a fee waiver of 21 days from when the taxes were originally due. Because the second tax installment was due February 1, 2021, this waiver would allow the penalty-free period to extend until February 23. The Board has the option to vote on whether to request this executive order. This action would affect 53 taxpayers and would result in $75,000 in refunds from the Village.

Trustee Whitestone then voiced his change in thinking regarding the Board’s idea of using the tax penalties to potentially reduce the proposed tax levy increase. He stated that while he was originally uncomfortable with the suggestion, the Board now has more confidence in how the fiscal year will turn out and he is more “comfortable with the long-term picture… [and] with this use of the tax penalties.”

Trustee Arest disagreed and said that he doesn’t think using some residents’ late payment fees to lower taxes for the Village will solve the issue. Instead, he suggests something to positively impact the lives of Scarsdale residents, such as the recommendations made in a recent Scarsdale Inquirer Letter to the Editor, where the author suggested that Scarsdale make technological improvements and send out automatic email reminders regarding tax deadlines.

Trustee Crandall disagreed with Trustee Arest and stated that Scarsdale “has a highly educated community… I feel badly for folks who missed their payments… but I don’t think we need to hold their hand. It is my understanding that if you bank online you can schedule your future payments right away. I would rather use that money to lower the overall tax policy if possible.” Trustee Waldman added that the Letter to the Editor in the Inquirer made some forward-thinking suggestions like the digitization of many documents, and she would want to see some of the late fees going towards modernizing Scarsdale systems.

Finally, Mayor Samwick wrapped the discussion by adding that there are plenty of Village needs, such as roads and technology infrastructure, but he is still supports putting employee needs front and center by voting to approve the 2% salary increases.

renyagabJCCMW nursery school teacher Renya Glab lights one of the vigil candles. Behind in observance are (L-R) National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Ryan, Cathy Klein's daughter Lauren Klein and New Rochelle Detective Francesco Provenzale.On Thursday, March 12, the anniversary of New York’s first recorded case of COVID-19, elected officials, first responders and people from the community gathered at JCC of Mid-Westchester (JCCMW) for a socially distant, outdoor candlelight ceremony to memorialize the more than 500,000 Americans who lost their lives, including JCCMW cherished employee and New Rochelle resident, Cathy Klein.

Karen Kolodny, CEO of JCCMW, led the remarks reflecting on the challenges the community faced over the last year and remembering JCCMW’s treasured employee, Cathy Klein.

“We want to acknowledge the difficult year we have had and recall with fondness those we have lost to COVID-19. We also acknowledge that every day we have is a blessing,” said Kolodny. “Unfortunately, the JCC lost a valued employee this year - someone who worked here for more than 30 years, Cathy Klein. We will always cherish Cathy's memory. Her kind and gentle way with patrons and colleagues will be missed.”

When the city of New Rochelle became one of the first COVID-19 epicenters in U.S., JCCMW, like many nonprofits and businesses, did not reopen until months later. Thursday’s ceremony was a time to reflect on events of the past year, remember those lost and express gratitude for the health and safety of the community especially for our frontline health workers. JCCMW is the largest community center serving New Rochelle where the virus was first detected in New York State.

During the event, five memorial candles were lit by community members, including Cathy Klein's daughter Lauren Klein, JCCMW nursery school teacher Renya Glab, JCCMW’s gymnastics program director Tiffany Smith and gymnast Charlotte Bonano, New Rochelle Detective Francesco Provenzale and National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Ryan.

In attendance, were first responders who were on the frontlines during the first year of the pandemic and elected officials including, Westchester County Executive George Latimer, New York State Assembly Member Amy Paulin and New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson. Teachers, local clergy, and members of the National Guard were also in observance.

KolodnyKaren Kolodny, CEO of JCCMW, addresses the attendees, reflecting on the challenges the community faced over the last year and the loss of JCCMW’s treasured employee, Cathy Klein.

free furniture(This article was submitted by Greenacres resident David Fenigstein)
Let’s face it, we live in a world of over consumption. Some of that is by our own choice, as we want the latest and greatest, and some is simply because products have a limited lifespan and eventually need to be replaced. Either way, whenever we add something new to our lives, something needs to be removed, which usually means it's sent to the trash either to be buried or burned or in the best case scenario recycled. However, I have found an even better way of avoiding throwing items into the trash and the best part is it’s easy, free and the best part... someone comes to your house to take it away!

Recently I replaced my 20+ year old garage door opener with a new more quiet one which also happened to have cool new features such as battery backup and remote open/close. Was there something wrong with my old opener except for age and a noisy motor...No, it still worked perfectly fine. So instead of hauling it off to the metal bin at the recycling center (metal should not go in the trash BTW), I posted it on Craigslist for free. I had been thinking that no one would want a used contraption such as this, but low and behold after I posted it I was flooded with offers almost instantaneously. Within a day, the opener was picked up and off to a new owner, a school teacher who had the same model opener which recently quit on him and he had since been lifting the door manually due to the cost of a new one. So as the saying goes, “One Man’s Trash is another Man’s Treasure”, and what I have learned after doing this for many items from furniture to tires to kids toys is that you can basically give anything away for free.

My wife and I have posted countless items on Craigslist as well as Facebook Buzz that we no longer need, but still have plenty of useful life. There are plenty of other places to donate as well. It’s easy to give things away for free, but just requires a bit more work than tossing it in the trash. In the end though it helps others to donate, is better for our environment than adding it to the trash, and is also so much more satisfying to know that your items are getting a second life. Driving around town, I see so many items put to the curb that are perfectly good and could be used by others. Of course there is a chance someone will drive by and take it, but most likely it will end up getting tossed - versus a 100% certainty that if you post it online, someone who wants or really needs your item will take it!

Some may be concerned about strangers coming to your house and I do usually ask a few questions on Craigslist to know that the person is really interested before giving my address but have never once had an issue. Most importantly, the items you are posting are free so you don’t need to meet anyone or collect payment, you simply leave it somewhere outside for them to grab it, like a front porch, lawn or curb. So the next time you are ready to get rid of something, give posting a try. I bet you’ll feel better knowing your stuff is going to someone who actually wants it and you are not only helping the environment, you are helping others!!

Note from Joanne at Scarsdale10583.com - if you have something you would like to give away, send us a photo, description and contact information to scarsdalecomments@gmail.com and we will post it for free.

Scarsdale resident Miriam Popp commented, "I will add that the White Plains area Freecycle group is very active. I have given away old but usable appliances like a window AC, gently used children's clothing, men's clothing, college Russian language books and many miscellaneous household items that I was sure no one would want. It creates a lot more space in the house and is gratifying to put these items to good use! People on this site are not picky and are grateful to get these items. There is a lot of need in the local area. Baby items seem to be in particular demand. I have had no safety issues. I leave items by my front door. The biggest frustration is that people picking up are not always punctual."

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