Saturday, November 25, 2006

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM YOUR FRIENDS IN COUNTY GOVERNMENT

DEAR READERS:

AS THE HOLIDAYS DRAW NEAR THIS IS PROBABLY ONE OF THE LAST BLOGS YOU'LL RECIEVE THIS YEAR(THOUGH IF CIRCUMSTANCE WARRANTS, I RESERVE THE RIGHT TO CHANGE MY MIND). YOU SHOULD ALSO RECIEVE ONE LAST LETTER TO THE RESPECTIVE LOCAL PAPERS' EDITORS.

AS YOU KNOW BY NOW, WESTCHESTER COUNTY HAS THE HONOR OF BEING THE MOST TAXED COUNTY IN THE NATION....YEP...WE'RE IT. SO I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW WHAT OUR COUNTY EXECUTIVES' ANSWER TO THIS(AS HE IS UP FOR ELECTION NEXT YEAR) WAS. HIS NEW BUDGET CALL FOR A 3.98% INCREASE IN OUR TAXES. THAT'S RIGHT, OUR COUNTY EXECUTIVE HAS DECIDED TO MAKE SURE NO COUNTY IN THE NATION TAKES AWAY THE ABOVE HONOR WE HAVE. THIS INCREASE IS ACHIEVED BY THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE'S NEED TO GROW OUR COUNTY GOVERNMENT. ONE WOULD HAVE THOUGHT A MORE RESPONSIBLE EXECUTIVE WOULD HAVE FOUND A WAY TO SHRINK OUR GOVERNMENT. TO LOOK FOR SERVICES THAT ARE ALREADY PROVIDED BY OUR TAXES TO THE STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT THAT ARE REPEATED AGAIN AT THE COUNTY LEVEL JUST TO SAY WE HAVE THEM TOO. I WOULD HAZZARD A GUESS THAT THERE ARE AT LEAST ONE OR TWO REPETETIVE SERVICES THAT COULD BE SHRUNK OR ELEIMINATED. TO ADD MORE EMPLOYEES THOUGH SEEMS AT THIS TIME A FOOLISH THING TO DO, BUT WHAT THE HELL, IT'S TAX MONEY ANY WAY, SO WHO CARES. PROBLEM IS THAT ONE WHO SHOULD HAVE CARED IS COUNTY LEGISALTOR KALPOWITZ(WHO IS UP FOR ELECTION NEXT YEAR) WHO RECENTLY RAN FOR STATE SENATE ON A PLATFORM OF FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY. I WAS SHOCKED TO SEE HIM ON CHANEL 12 PRAISING THIS BUDGET. I GUESS FISCAL RESPOSIBILITY ONLY MATTERS AT STATE LEVEL. I LIKE COUNTY LEGISLATOR KALPOWITZ AND ENDORSED HIS RUN FOR STATE SENATE. AS A MEMBER OF THE MAJORITY PARTY AT COUNTY LEVEL, I WOULD HAVE HOPED HE WOULD HAVE USED HIS INFLUENCE TO REIGN IN COUNTY SPENDING AS HE SAID HE WOULD DO AT STATE LEVEL. I WAS WRONG. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN NICE FOR THE LOCAL PRESS TO GIVE MORE TIME TO COUNTY LEGISLATOR OROS' (WHO IS MINORITY LEADER, AND ALSO UP FOR ELECTION NEXT YEAR) ANSWER TO THE PROPOSED BUDGET. IF HE OR LEGISLATOR KALPOWITZ REPLIES TO THIS BLOG, I WILL SEND IT OUT TO YOU ASAP.
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I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE DEMOCRATS ON THE PEEKSKILL CITY COUNCIL ARE THINKING, BUT SO FAR THEY (DREW CLAXTON, MARY FOSTER, DON BENNETT) HAVE VOTED NO ON LETTING THE PROPOSED RIVERFRONT DEVELOPMENT GO TO THE NEXT STEP. THEY(DREW CLAXTON, MARY FOSTER) VOTED NO ON MOVING FOWARD WITH THE PROPOSED TARGET STORE. THEY HAVE (DREW CLAXTON, MARY FOSTER, DON BENNETT) VOICED RESERVATIONS ABOUT THE PROPOSED DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT. THIS ALL THE WHILE SAYING THAT THEY ARE PRO-GROWTH FOR PEEKSKILL. I HAVE HEARD THEIR REASONS(SOME MAY SAY VALID), HOWEVER I HAVE TO ASK WOULD THEY HAVE STILL VOTED NO WERE THEY IN CONTROL OF THE CITY GOVERNMENT? I CAN'T HELP BUT THINK THIS IS MORE POLITICS THAN ANYTHING ELSE. I COULD BE WRONG, HOWEVER I DON'T THINK TALKING SOMETHING TO DEATH IS PRO-GROWTH. THERE ARE MANY STEPS YET TO BE TAKEN BEFORE ANYTHING ACTUALLY HAPPENS, WITH MORE THAN AMPLE OPPORTUNITY FOR CONTRARY OPINIONS TO BE HEARD AND ACTED UPON, SHOULD THEY PROVE VALID. I REFUSE TO BLIEVE NO MATTER THE PARTY, THAT ANY OF THE ELECTED OFFICIALS WOULD DO ANY THING TO HURT THE CITY IN WHICH THEY LIVE. NOT MOVING FOWARD AT THIS TIME ON THESE PROPOSALS I BELIEVE IS WRONG, AS THE NEXT STEPS PROVIDE AMPLE OPPORTUNITY FOR DISCUSSION. TO SHOW YOU READERS THAT THIS BLOG IS MORE UP TO DATE THAN THE LOCAL MEDIA(PAPERS AND CHANEL 12), IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT PUTNAM COUNTY IS RAISING THEIR TAXES, PUTNAM VALLEY IS RAISING THEIR TAXES, WESTCHESTER COUNTY IS RAISING THIER TAXES, THE TOWNS' OF CORTLANT AND YORKTOWN ARE RASING THEIR TAXES. THE ONLY LOCAL MUNCIPALITY THAT IS NOT RAISING TAXES IS THE CITY OF PEEKSKILL. TOMMOROW 11/27/06 THE CITY OF PEEKSKILL WILL BE VOTING ON NEXT YEARS BUDGET THAT HAS A 0% TAX INCREASE. THIS IS TWO YEARS IN A ROW, SO YOU CAN'T SAY THIS IS AN ELECTION YEAR BUDGET, AS LAST YEAR WHEN THERE WAS NO TAX INCREASE WAS NOT AN ELECTION YEAR. THIS IS A PRO-GROWTH GOVERNMENT BENEFIT. INSTEAD OF RAISING TAXES, YOU INCREASE THE TAX BASE. IT WORKS EVERY TIME IT IS TRIED WHEN AT THE SAME TIME YOU CONTROL SPENDING. AS NEXT YEAR THE LOCAL PEEKSKILL OFFICIALS ARE ALSO UP FOR RE-ELECTION, IT WOULD BE WISE TO NOTE THOSE CANDIDATES THAT VOTED FOR THIS GROWTH AS THOSE WHO OPPOSED THIS GROWTH AND DECIDE WHO HAS THE BEST INTEREST OF PEEKSKILL ON THEIR AGENDA. SHOULD ANY OF THE ELECTED OFFICIAL WISH TO RESPOND TO THIS BLOG..I WILL SEND IT OUT TO YOU A.S.A.P.
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ON THE ISSUE OF EMINENT DOMAIN:

I KNOW THIS ISSUE SPARKS GREAT EMOTION, AND PEOPLE HAVE SAID,"ANDY, YOU TALK ABOUT THIS ISSUE IN REGARDS TO YORKTOWN BUT NOT PEEKSKILL, ARE YOU SOME KIND OF LACKEY?" THE ANSWER TO THAT IS NO, HOWEVER I LIKE THE SUPREMES' DO NOT BELIEVE IN A "ONE SIZE FITS ALL" ANSWER. IN THE MAJORITY OPINION WRITTEN BY JUSTICE STEVENS, IT WAS LEFT TO THE LOCAL MUNICIPALITIES TO DEAL WITH THIS ISSUE AS IT AFFECTS THEM. IN REGARDS TO THE WATERFRONT, EMINENT DOMAIN HAS NOT BEEN USED, AND IN THE CASE OF THE FEW PROPERTIES NOT SOLD YET, THEY WILL PROBABLY BE BUILT ARROUND AS TO AVOID CONFLICT. AS REGARDS TO DOWNTOWN, NO HOMES ARE INVOLVED, AND THE ONLY PROPERTY THAT MIGHT BE INVOLVED IS THE CROSSROADS SHOPPING CENTER, AND AT THIS TIME I WILL WAIT TO SEE HOW THIS PLAYS OUT. WHAT I AM TRYING TOM SAY, IS DO NOT BE GOVERNED BY EMOTION IN THIS ISSUE, BUT TO THINK RATIONALLY AND SEE HOW IT PLAYS. THERE IS AN ELECTION COMMING NEXT YEAR WHERE YOU CAN VOICE YOUR DISPLEASURE SHOULD IT NOT PLAY THE WAY YOU THINK.

BAZZO 11/25/06

2 comments:

PEEKofmySKILL said...

Andy
Put down the kool aide and step away from the blog. You're a smart guy, you owe it to yourself to look below the surface of things. First of all, Peekskill Democrats are in the minority, they have no power to change, stop or control anything. To acuse them of doing it is dishonest. One reason however, Peekskills tax increase may, or may not be held to zero, is because of DEMOCRATIC council person, Mary Foster. The following is a Peekskill Democratic Party News Release,

FOSTER OFFERS BUDGET ASSESSMENT FOR FY 2007

Budget numbers suggest possibility of zero percent tax increase and no water rate increases



Offering her analysis of the City manager’s proposed budget, Councilwoman Mary Foster sees the possibility of a zero percent tax increase and stabilized water rates for Peekskill.



“Based on surpluses in both the General Operating Budget and the Water Fund, I see no reason why we should expect either a tax increase or a water rate increase,” said Foster, a professional auditor and accountant.



As of December 31, 2005, the City of Peekskill had $7.7 million of unreserved general fund balances and in 2005 generated a general fund profit of $3.2 million which added to the reserves. City staff internally designated $3.5 million to offset increases for retiree health benefits, another $500,000 for unexpected increases in retirement benefits, and $355,100 that could used in 2006 to keep that year’s tax increase at 0%. The remaining fund balance is $3.3 million. Based on revenue and expense projections for 2006, the $355,100 designation to offset a tax increase was not needed because revenues continue to come in above budget. Projections for 2006 suggest another general fund surplus.



The 2007 proposed tax rate increase of 2.8% would generate property tax revenues to the City of $563,673. There is an adequate fund balance to cover this without increasing taxes.



While there has been discussion of increases in water rates, Foster points out that the current surplus in the Water Fund of $2.1 million as of 12.31.2005 with another projected surplus of $1 million for 2006 leaves plenty of funds to both service the debt generated by bonds for the filtration plant and to absorb any unexpected costs that could emerge. In prior years in order to offset property tax increases, the city council increased water rates and later transferred those dollars to the general operating fund. This transfer from the Water Fund should not be occurring and Foster is requesting that the proposed $573,000 transfer for 2007 be eliminated from the 2007 budget. The City staff has known for the last few years that these bonds would be issued, but continued to make these transfers to keep the tax increases lower while stripping out the reserves that would be needed to pay the bonds. In spite of this there is a $2.1 million fund balance in the water fund at December 31, 2005. If the 2006 and 2007 transfers do not happen this increases the fund balance by another $1.1 million. If we need to increase the water rates when the second round of bonds are issued later next year, we can deal with that in the 2008 budget. But even then the rate increase would not be at the level that is being proposed now.



“Basically, the numbers suggest we have been over-taxed in prior years and can prudently carry forward some of the excess tax revenues to offset the proposed 2007 tax increase,” continued Foster. “We have surpluses in both our General Operating Fund and our Water Fund. At this point I see no logical reason to raise taxes or water rates on our homeowners and believe it is in the best interest of the community not to do so. If we raise taxes and water rates this year it is simply taking money from property owners so that the City can save it. I don’t think we’re in the business of forced savings.”



Looking to the City’s need for infrastructure and capital improvements, Foster is calling for the current 5 year capital plan to be revised to address the major capital improvement projects such as the DPW garage, the Youth Bureau Building, our police plaza and city court, and central fire house.

The Republican majority was going to try to get us to swollow a 2.8 percent increase. Needed or not, Mayor testa wanted to buffer himself for next year budget which will come out right before the election. Testa likes wiggl'in room. Look at all the ribbons he cut in October 2005. More than a year later all Peekskills got is some tattered ribbons. I will mention it since you drive by it a hundred times a week. It was imperative that the empty lot on spring street get a shiney new sign, featuring beautiful new town houses and bold letters announcing coming in 2006. Maybe you can steady the latter for Mayor Testa when he changes that "6" to an "8"

As for the river front it is one of Peekskill's best resource. It would be foolhardy to just turn it over to a "prefered" developer, as Mayor Testa and the Republican majority call the Ginsberg Corp. Like all things the devil is in the details. The plan as it stands is quite lovely. But if you look at the details its not what we are assured we will get. There are many step to the project. The first one being, I'm sure to no one surprise, more expensive housing. Ginsberg says this is important because the money will pay for the rest of the project. But, and that's a big BUT, there is nothing to assure the project will get finished. You know what would make someone a "preferred" developer to me? I would prefer a developer who could demonstrate that the funding was in place for the entire project before it begins.
It is very easy to say, "Oh, look at the beautiful riverfront we could have if only it weren't for the evil Democrats." Like the national Republicans their Peekskill counterparts have learned that a little bit of sugar helps the medicine go down. It is my hope that Peekskill will follow the nations and recognize that no matter how much sugar you heap on it, this Republican majority is one pill too bitter to swollow again.

andyland said...

DEAR PEEK OF MY SKILL:
i accuse no one of anything. i pointed out their recent votes and public positions. from those position i asked reasonable question that the casual voter(who most voters are) would ask. i pointed out that to some some positions would appear valid, but even so, i said i belive that to stop those projects from going to the next step was wrong. this is what elections are all about, conflicting views on the future of the city, were the one that is articulated best wins. i cast no negative aspersions as you sugest, in fact i point out that i don't believe any elected official would hurt the city in which they live. on even that, there are some who would dissagree.
as for the taxes, i find it interesting that you tell me that as the minority party the democrats have no control, accuse me of "drinking the kool-ade", yet you send me a press release that tells me it is the party that has no control that is repsonsible. for the zero tax increase. as i recieve many press releases from the local parties of the various towns, to swallow them whole would be "drinking the kool-ade". it seems i am a wise and thoughtful person when i agree with ones position, yet a "kool-ade" drinker when i don't. the only drum beat i follow is mine. life's reality is that those in the leadership get the credit for good news and the blame for bad. all budgets are a product of consensous, and when this one is passed, all involved will take credit. however, who the voters give credit to is still to be determined. again it comes down to who makes the most convincing arguement.

bazzo 11/27/06