Scarsdale Could Receive $1.9 Million in Relief Funds from Washington
- Written by Sammy Silberberg
- Hits: 1077
Good 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.
Pay It Forward; Give It Away Rather Than Throw it Away
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 996
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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."
Share Some Love for Valentine's Day
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 1130
Valentine’s Day is coming up on Sunday February 14, and this year, more than ever, we all need to share some love. Take a look at the great gifts local retailers have in store and venture out to shop in person or call to place your orders.
Home is where the love is this Valentine’s Day and Current Home has exactly what everyone needs to make time at home special. Current Home is the go-to destination for a large selection of Valentine’s Day gifts sure to delight everyone in the family.
This Valentine’s Day, wrap up someone you love in Current Home’s bestselling machine washable throws. They can be customized in many colors and make a perfect gift.
Send someone you love Current Home’s love tabletop sculpture - made of high quality mirror acrylic, this sculpture is ideal for a shelf or table. Available in gold or silver.
Golden Horseshoe Shopping Center
1096 Wilmot Road, Scarsdale
NYC: 1189 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY
I Am More Scarsdale
I Am More Scarsdale is a unique women’s retail boutique in Scarsdale Village, featuring the hottest new trends in fashion, accessories and jewelry. Here are just a few of the cheerful Valentine’s gifts you’ll find at I Am More in Scarsdale Village:
Squeeze De Citron Bags
Made from 100% recyclable plastic, these bags are extremely durable with a rigid structure, are water-proof and have long handles for easy use as a shoulder bag or handy-carry. Their unique texture and colors make them perfect for any lifestyle activity.
Retail Price: $140
Spring is on the horizon and it's time to start thinking about putting away the heavier layers in favor of some lightweight, pretty, classic and novelty spring sweaters. I Am More sweaters start at $99.
I Am More Scarsdale
6 Spencer Place, Scarsdale
Scent Fluence Aroma Design Studio
Experience the influencing power of scent! Find the perfect scent for your home or space or the perfect Valentine’s Day gift!
- Explore our curated library of over 65 exclusive scents
- Try our innovative line of scent diffusion systems
- Select from a range of fragrant gift giving items including;
Gift sets, Candles, Soaps, Scented Hand Sanitizers, Scent games for the whole family
- Ask about our private virtual or in person scent library tours
- Find out about our safe and social distance special events
- Phone orders and curb side pick-up available
Scent Fluence Aroma Design Studio
22 Harwood Court, Scarsdale
Open Tues-Sat 10am-5pm
Keep in Mind
Standing Room Only
Bring home a delicious Valentine’s Day dinner from Standing Room Only. Check out their daily menu here and call 914-372-4002 to order.
What’s Valentine’s Day without chocolate? Shop Candy Rox in Bronxville for Valentine’s Day chocolate and candy: 66 Pondifled Road, Bronxville, (914) 779-6750, www.candyrox.com
Valentine’s CabaretTo celebrate at home, watch Chill Bucket Productions third annual Valentine’s Cabaret: Endless Love, virtual on February 12, 2021 at 8 pm EST.
Chill Bucket Productions returns to present their annual Valentine’s Cabaret as a virtual event premiering on Friday, February 12, 2021, with continued access through Sunday, February 14, 2021, streaming on ChillBP.com.
This year’s Valentine’s Cabaret theme, Endless Love, honors the resilience of our music theatre community and reminds us of the power of that endless love to get us through almost anything. Hosts Dakota Martin and Jeff Rocco will guide an audience on a concise journey exploring the theme of boundless love and its relation to strength, courage, friendship, romance, and everything in between. By curating a variety of musical selections, Martin and Rocco hope to encourage and enlighten audience members while also putting a much needed smile on their faces and warming their hearts.
Tickets start at $10 and will offer a pay what you can tiered scale. Streaming licenses will be sent digitally to access the cabaret and are available at www.chillbp.com or by calling 914-708-9312.
Scarsdale Village Government Wants Your Help!
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 910
The following was submitted by submitted by the Scarsdale Village Advisory Council on Communications:
Scarsdale is a special community full of residents who give freely of their time in many arena, and our local government is no exception. Ever wonder about “how” and “why” decisions are made in Scarsdale Village government? Do you want to know the best way to contribute to how things are run in our Village? Become a member of a Village board or council!
Scarsdale has a decades-long tradition of volunteerism and civic engagement. If you are interested in taking a more active role in our local government beyond the public comment session of board meetings and public hearings, here is your chance.
At the beginning of each year, the Scarsdale Board of Trustees’ Personnel Committee invites all residents to lend their voice, experience, and skills to help shape myriad areas of Village life. Village Staff and Board members rely on insight and recommendations from resident volunteers. Community input is what makes government effective, responsive, and inclusive in resolving problems, addressing current needs, expanding successful programs, and preparing for what lies ahead.
Resident volunteers continually impact our community in a meaningful and positive way, and Scarsdale’s boards and councils are responsible for more than many realize.
Want to improve how the Village communicates with its residents? Join the Advisory Council on Communications. Think the Village should be doing more to engage kids? Join the Advisory Council on Youth. Want to impact zoning decisions or the character and feel of neighborhoods? Join the Zoning Board of Appeals or the Board of Architectural Review. There are many ways to contribute. One need only raise a hand.
Here are the ways to get involved:
-Join an Advisory board or council to review timely issues and topics and offer advice to aid in decision making.
-Join a Decision-making board to review resident applications and requests, issue approvals/rejections with relevant conditions.
Listen to the words of three longstanding volunteers in Village government, describing their experiences:
"In addition to offering a great education for children, Scarsdale provides a real community atmosphere for families and empty nesters. By contributing my time and volunteering to village boards and councils, it makes me feel good that I'm doing my part to help foster this community spirit that has always been such a positive trademark of Scarsdale."
-- Andrew Sereysky, Walworth Avenue, Member of Cable Commission and Advisory Committee on Communications
"I've lived in Scarsdale since 1972 and at each stage of my family's life here, I've connected with my community & tried to contribute to relevant organizations. I've made many friends, expanded my network & set an example to my children. It has been a rewarding use of my time & experience & I am proud to make a difference."
-- Carol Silverman, Spier Road, Member, Advisory Council on Scarsdale Senior Citizens and Advisory Council on Communications
“I derive much personal satisfaction from volunteering in my community. My middle school kids are proud of my contributions, and I know that my work really has a positive impact on all Scarsdale residents.”
-- Barry Meiselman, Post Road, Member of Advisory Council of Communications and Zoning Board of Appeals
Are You Up For The Challenge?
Descriptions for each volunteer board and council, including duties, time commitments, and more information are available online. Residents can learn about eligibility and access the application here. There is something for everyone depending on your availability and interests! When individuals apply, they are asked to select their top three choices for service. A member of the Board of Trustees will reach out to applicants based on openings to gage their level of interest as well as particular skill sets in determining the best placement. While most positions are filled in the spring, the process does occur on a rolling basis if openings become available throughout the year. Feel free to reach out to Trustees Waldman or Whitestone. email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just do it! You won’t regret it!
Ellen Plum Withdraws Application to Serve as Village Trustee, CNC Seeks Candidates
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 1469
Last week, the Citizens Nominating Committee announced their slate of candidates to serve as Mayor and Village Trustees. The CNC selected former Village Trustee Jane Veron for Mayor, current Village Trustee Jonathan Lewis to run for a second term, and Sameer Ahuja and Ellen Plum to run for their first terms.
Scarsdale10583 published statements and biographical information about Veron, Ahuja and Lewis last week but Plum did not forward her responses in time for publication.
On Monday January 25, 2021 CNC Chair Eric Lichtenstein learned that Plum had withdrawn her application citing personal reasons. Commenting on her decision, Plum said, "As it turned out, the Village BOT meeting times were in direct conflict with another Board on which I currently serve. I regret having to withdraw my name. The members of the CNC whom I briefly met, and the people on the 2021 slate headed by Jane Veron, welcomed me warmly and we all seemed to have the same commitment and drive to serve our wonderful Scarsdale community. This was purely a scheduling issue."
As soon as he got the news, he convened the CNC committee to talk through plans moving forward. The CNC is now soliciting applications from the entire Scarsdale Village for the open position. The applications are due by 8 pm on Sunday, January 31, 2021.
The Citizens Nominating Committee will meet on Monday, February 1st at 8pm for new applicant presentations.
If you are interested in being considered to serve as Village Trustee, contact Eric Lichtenstein at 917-864-1122 or by email at
email@example.com or Steve Pass at 917-744-5026 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.