The first tentative Village of Scarsdale Budget published after federal tax reform eliminated all but $10,000 of state and tax deductions has been published. Given that that the programs, services and payrolls my wife and I pay for every year are now 30%-40% more expensive than they were last year (because we can no longer deduct these payments from our income taxes) I was eager to learn about how Village government is responding to this huge de facto increase in our property tax rates. I’ll outline the Village response after some general observations I made while skimming the 186-page tome, and I encourage all taxpayers to download the tentative budget and give it a good read. Personally I paid scant attention to this in the past, but realize its 30%-40% more important to my family now.
Scarsdale has prided itself in taking at least small steps toward improved sustainability and environmental stewardship through introduction of the county’s first food scrap recycling program, a pilot program for LED lighting on village roads and proactive tree replacement for fallen trees along the village right of way. Individuals in our community have also taken steps to bicycle to the train station, purchase hybrid and electric vehicles and install solar panels on their roofs. In short our inclinations are in the right place even if we haven’t made huge lifestyle changes to counter the effects of our carbon footprint.
Imagine that you wanted to be on the board of a Fortune 500 corporation. One day, the chair of a 30-person committee of that prestigious corporation emails you and invites you to come in and give a brief presentation. You, the candidate, get to choose what you want to highlight about your professional, civic or personal life. You cannot discuss what plans or ideas you have to improve the corporation, because that would mean that you are discussing issues, which if the committee members disagree with your views, could affect you adversely in the selection process. In the email that you receive, there is no document that describes what the board role entails or whether there is any on the job training, but you like the corporation’s brand, so you accept the invitation to present.
I write to express my incredible disappointment at the way you all have treated Ms. Jane Curley. I find it incomprehensible that you did not ask her if she wanted to return to the Town Board of Assessment Review (BAR). You have not responded to her email. You did not answer the email of the sitting members of the BAR, who all described her significant contributions to the BAR. You did not respond to Bob Berg’s comments or mine about her last night. What is your radio silence telling volunteers in Scarsdale? Have you even sent Ms. Curley a thank you note for her service?
By increasing the base water rate from 2017 and lowering the excess rate, the Mayor and Trustees are asking almost 90% of Scarsdale residents to subsidize the remaining 10%.The cost of the excess rate cut is actually greater than the amount raised for capital improvements.
The Board of Trustees’ decision on April 10 not to reappoint a highly qualified and experienced member of the Board of Assessment Review (BAR) has raised serious questions about appropriate policies and procedures. I understand many of the challenges that you face as Board members. However, I do not respect your silence on the issue of your decision not to reappoint Ms. Curley, a willing volunteer, to the BAR. Your silent message is deafening.