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Yorktown Town Supervisor Siegel's July Newsletter

This newsletter was written in its entirety by Yorktown Town Supervisor Susan Siegel.

New Building Department

I’m happy to announce the hiring of a new Building Inspector following the recent retirement of Bill Gregory. John Winter, most recently the Building Inspector of the Village of Mamaroneck, returned to Yorktown on July 18 where he was an Assistant Building Inspector from 2005-2007. Prior to that, he was an Assistant Building Inspector in North Salem following a 23-year career as a carpenter. John has hit the ground running and has already proposed initiatives to modernize and streamline operations for greater efficiency, and will play an important role in the planned consolidation of the Building, Planning, and Engineering Departments.

Business Development

As part of the town’s heightened business development efforts, town officials, along with the Chamber of Commerce’s business development committee, met with representatives of Mohegan Motors on July 14 to discuss their proposal to expand operations on Route 6 in Mohegan Lake. I was joined at the meeting by Councilman Bianco, the Town Planning Director, Town Engineer, and the Town’s Environmental Consultant – all of us committed to ensuring that the project moves quickly and smoothly through the application and approval process. It’s important that we partner closely with local businesses to expedite and encourage expansion plans.

On a related note, the town and the Chamber will co-host a breakfast meeting on August 31 at Town Hall for area business leaders to meet John Winter, the new Building Inspector as well as other town staff involved in the project review process in order to explain procedures and discuss efforts and ideas to streamline plan reviews.

Senior Nutrition Center

The major renovation project, slated to begin in late August, will be slightly delayed due to the Town Board’s decision to re-bid the construction work due to a minor technicality with the first bidder’s compliance with NY State’s Wicks Law. The Board chose to re-bid the project to avoid any subsequent legal challenges, and we hope to award the bid at the August 9 meeting and begin work as early as September.

Legacy Fields

The new Legacy Fields complex, which opened this spring, is so popular that we are experiencing some parking and traffic issues which will be addressed at a public hearing scheduled for September 20th. Topics will include instituting a park zone speed limit, a three-way stop at the entrance, and moving the access gate farther up the drive.

NY State Tax Cap

And lastly, the 800-pound gorilla in the Boardroom – the State’s new property tax cap and some of the early implications for Yorktown’s 2012 budget. While many homeowners were enthusiastic supporters of the new law, those of us in local government kept warning that without significant mandate relief, the tax cap would have a crippling effect on local services. And that’s exactly what is happening. The Town Board has already held off filling two vacancies and we know that more difficult choices will need to be made as we head into the 2012 budget season.

For instance, we know that a 2% cap on our 2012 tax levy means a maximum increase of $345,151. The Town Comptroller recently informed the Town Board that early projections of employee health care benefits costs are expected to increase between 13 to 20% next year. Combined with employee salary step increases, which the town is contractually bound to honor, the total of these two items alone is $429,082. In other words, even before we know what our fuel, electricity and pension costs will be, and without adding in any money for drainage, paving or planned capital improvement projects – or raises for our CSEA and PBA employees who are long overdue for new contracts – we are already well over the cap limit. Simply put, we are faced with cutting the budget before we even begin. More on this soon.

(For more explanation of how the Tax Cap works please see my July 18th commentary)

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