The Return from Calvary

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WPCNR NEWS & COMMENT. By John F. Bailey. April 18, 2014:

He died 2,000 years ago. There was no CNN, no internet, no newspapers,radio or television. No Twitter or Facebook.

Nevertheless the message of the man who died on Calvary spread around the world without mass communication.

His followers, twelve of them were so devoted to His message of love and code of behavior they became the first pacifist activists who spread a message the man they called their Lord had preached to them.

He is Jesus of Nazareth.  He had no last name.

Today He is now known all over the world for the message he delivered.

Whether you believe He is the Son of God, or not, he ranks as one of the foremost influences on mankind.

His selfless acts of embracing lepers, the poor, those who sinned were unique.

Such compassion for the downtrodden was unheard during the time He lived.

It was a time of slavery. No human rights. No care for the sick. When cities were razed and populations slaughtered or enslaved.

Jesus of Nazareth introduced a new philosophy that spread throughout the world after His death by crucifixation because the community leaders of his own people thought him a threat to their power.

If you live by his philosophy of foregiveness you are a person at peace with yourself. If you accept those who are different from you without  fear or prejudice, you are a force for spreading His message of peace towards others and good will.

I f you help the poor and the sick because you sympathize with them, you are following His way.

If you stand up for truth, point out what is wrong as He did with the Pharisees. You are doing his will.

If you go about doing good for the sake of doing good, you are following His virtue of selflessness.

Jesus of Nazareth’s message whether divine or a code of how we conduct our lives resonated with millions and it spread.

There is no denying He is one of the great philosophers of the human experience, kin to Socrates, the other giant of antiquity thought.

The above print of “The Return from Calvary” painted by Herbert Schmalz shows the last hours of Jesus of Nazareth’s crucifixation around 33 A.D. on Calvary Hill, “the place of the Skull” outside of Jerusalem late in the day He was crucified.

The description on the print describes the somber scene:

The darkness which was on the earth (during His suffering) is clearing away.

One long, dark cloud is hanging over the city like a pall.

The Virgin Mother, weighted down by fatigue and grief, knowing not wither she goes, is being led up some steps, toward “his own” home, by St. John and Mary Magalene.

In the distance on the top of Cavalry, you can make out the three crosses.

The grief so eloquently captured by this print depicts the very personal loss all of us endure when someone we love passes away because of all they did for us. Jesus of Nazareth was a human being who affects us to this day.

One of the great gifts of this man, Jesus of Nazareth, is the celebration of humanity and capacity to care and feel for others that aids persons whether they believe He was the Son of God or not. Or that you will have eternal life if you believe in him.

His philosophies of care, courage, compassion and benevolent action serve their practioners well because they leave a great personal satisfaction in the heart, the mind, and the spirit.

You do not have to second guess yourself, when you do what is right, humane, merciful, and serves the less fortunate without superiority.

The peace of mind of action is the least of the  great gift of Jesus of Nazareth whose death on the cross is marked this day.

If you act as Jesus did, you will be remembered by all you meet fondly and lovingly, and be comforted that you will live in memories of those you have  touched with your love and kindness and caring  for eternity to the end of the age.

His simple teachings have great power.

They give meaning to our mystery of life.

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Tonight A Special Rebroadcast of the White Plains Week Budget Show and Where You Stand as a Tax Payer

THREE ON THE MONEY

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PETER, JOHN AND JIM

THE  REPORTERS WHO STAND ON GUARD FOR THEE

TOLD YOU THE SCHOOL AND CITY BUDGETS LAST WEEK

NOW THEY BREAK IT DOWN FOR YOU

AND HOW MUCH YOU’LL PAY IN NEW TAXES

AT www.whiteplainsweek.com

SEE THE BIG THREE INSTANTLY ON THE NET NOW.

ON

GOVERNOR CUOMO SHAKES UP MAYORS ACROSS THE STATE

BLAMES THEM FOR PROPERTY TAX MADNESS

THE NEW CITY BUDGET DOESN’T CUT A PENNY

THE SCHOOL BUDGET ADDS A MILLION

SAYS THEY WILL HAVE TO CUT $5 MILLION IN THREE YEARS

MR. TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE SAYS FUNDING STILL BEING SOUGHT TO FUND BUS RAPID TRANSIT AND I-287 TRAFFIC SMOOTHERS –NO NEW CONSTRUCTION PLANNED THERE

ASTORINO OPENS HALF THE PLAYLAND BOARDWALK — SUSTAINABLE PLAYLAND HAMSTRUNG ON FINANCES UNTIL BOARD OF LEGISLATURE APPROVES.

See it at 7:30 P.M. in Westchester County on FIOS CHANNEL 45

OR

IN WHITE PLAINS ON CABLEVISION CHANNEL 76

or

INSTANTLY ON THE NET

at

www.whiteplainsweek.com

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Governor Cuomo and MTA Transit Workers Union Settle on New 5 Year Contract: 1%,1%,2%,2%,2% Raises

 

WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. from the Governor’s Press Office (Edited). April 17, 2014:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman Tom Prendergast, and Transit Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 President John Samuelsen today announced a tentative labor agreement to settle a 2-year-old contract dispute between the MTA and TWU Local 100. The tentative agreement protects fare payers while providing a fair and reasonable five-year contract to TWU Local 100’s 34,000 transit workers.

The contract retroactively covers 2012 and 2013, and settles contracts for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Under the terms of the agreement, TWU workers would receive increases within the 2% cap that Governor Cuomo has achieved with state labor contracts (1% increase in each of the first 2 years, beginning with 2012, and 2% increases in the last 3 years).

Employees would pay an increased share of health care costs – increasing from 1.5% to 2% percent of the employee’s salary – but would receive important new benefits including paid maternity/paternity leave, coverage of health care for surviving spouses of deceased TWU retirees, and improvements to dental and optical benefits. 

The contract will have no impact on MTA fares and will be accommodated within revisions to the MTA financial plan. 

The tentative agreement is subject to approval by the TWU Local 100 executive board and ratification by the membership, and subsequent approval by the MTA board. 

“The transit system is the lifeblood of New York City, and the MTA employees are the ones that make the system work,” Governor Cuomo said. “They showed their dedication time and time again during Superstorm Sandy and its aftermath, working in difficult conditions to get the system up and running in record time. The resolution of this contract dispute is fair to transit workers, fiscally responsible for the MTA, and will have no impact on fares. I thank President John Samuelsen, who fights tenaciously for his members but also cares deeply about the system and its ridership, and Tom Prendergast whose lifelong dedication to the transit system made him the ideal leader of the MTA.”

TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen said, “This is a fair and equitable contract for transit workers. The agreement secures raises in every year of the contract, with full retroactive pay and provides for historic paid maternity and paternity leave, as well as important improvements to our membership’s healthcare, dental, and eye benefit package. The MTA is a vital part of this City and I am pleased to present a contract to the membership that recognizes their hard work, dedication, and service. I commend the hand of partnership extended by Governor Cuomo and I appreciate his leadership in helping bridge the divide and bring us to this contract agreement.”

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White Plains March Sales $$ REBOUND 6%– On Target for 51.7 Million in Sales Tax Collections ahead of last year.

WPCNR QUILL & EYESHADE. From the New York State Department of Tax and Finance. April 17, 2014:

White Plains had its strongest economy  gain in March after months of running 2% behind last year’s sales tax collection pace.

March 2014   was 6% ahead of March 2013 ($4,161,532 this March compared to $3,930,289 in March 2013. The March handle put White Plains on target to set an all time record in sales tax receipts if the city just keeps pace with 2013 receipts through the next three months.

The county meanwhile  had a soft March, only 1% ahead in sales tax collections over 1st quarter 2013.

White Plains after 9 months of its 2013-14 fiscal year has collected $38.7 Million in tax receipts. If the April May and June totals of $12.2 Million it got in 2013, the city will hit $50.9 Million, easily generating the tax stabilization fund dollars needed to cover its 2014-15 labor cost increases.

Funding the ever growing White Plains payroll is what the stabilization fund is used for.

That is why the tax stabilization fund has not grown beyond $5.1 Million since it was first funded out of the sales tax receipts in 2009-10. Had the city not used the tax stabilization fund to pay salary increases, White Plains residents would be facing  city property taxes 15% higher than they are now. At the time the Tax Stabilization Fund was created, the city faced a 17% increase in taxes to meet payroll due to losses from assessments and pension increases.

Should the 6% sales surge in March, maybe from efficient snow removal or ice and cold purchases, or NCAA Tournament related bar sales in White Plains, continues the city could hit $51.7 Million an all-time record.

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Board of Legislators Caucus Stops Just Short of Telling Sustainable Playland: Come Back to the Playland Reviews or Good Bye. Tells City of Rye–You have no Say.

WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. From the Westchester County Board of Legislators with WPCNR Supplemental ReportingApril 16, 2014:

The County Board of Legislators issued a news release today accused  Sustainable Playland of being disingenous by withdrawing from the Board Playland Improvement Plan Review until legal issues involving an individual lawsuit by Legislator Ken Jenkins challenging the County Executive signed management agreement with Sustainable Playland and the City of Rye claim that that city of Rye should have a full environmental review of the Sustainable Playland plan and final approval in the matter.

The Board also in their release appeared inadvertently to let the City of Rye know that the Board would decide on Playland and not the City of Rye.

Sustainable Playland declared in a letter three weeks ago they did not want to continue to spend limited dollars in preparing responses to board questions if the board was not going to have the final say in the Playland decision and that the City of Rye was going to have the decision. Sustainable said the ambiguity of what body — the Board or the City of Rye would  make the decision makes tweaking their plan very difficult.

Today, WPCNR asked the spokesman for the Chair of the Board of Legislators, Ken Jenkins, if the board of Legislators was going to give Sustainable an ultimatum to come back and answer questions. So far no response. I asked if the Board was going give Sustainable a deadline, come back or else. No response.

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At the opening of the Boardwalk at Playland last week, County Executive Robert Astorino (right) told WPCNR that Sustainable Playland could not proceed with signing contracts with potential developers to implement its plan due to inaction by the Board of Legislators, Kenneth Jenkins lawsuit on the plan and the City of Rye demand a full environmental review and the right of final approval of any Playland development plan . Asked by WPCNR if Sustainable did not have financing to make a payment on Playland debt as promised in their previous plan, Astorino said that was in doubt and that Sustainable was having difficulty raising capital because of the delay in approval of the plan.

 

Yesterday Sustainable Playland issued this statememt on the situation:

“Sustainable Playland Inc. (SPI), which has been selected by Westchester County to manage the iconic Playland Park in Rye, has not withdrawn from the county’s approval process. Rather we have requested clarity from Westchester County leaders on their vision as it pertains to the size, scope and components of the park going forward. SPI believes our plan is the right approach for securing Playland’s future. Yet it is only prudent that certain legal issues involving the county and City of Rye are resolved, as are varying opinions on what a revitalized Playland should encompass.”

Legislator Kenneth Jenkins, longtime critic of the County Executive Robert Astorino’s signing a management agreement with Sustainable Playland, issued this statement yesterday:

 

 

Today’s letter from Sustainable Playland withdrawing from the Board of Legislators review process supports the need for legal action to invalidate the contract entered into by the Astorino administration.

Said Legislator Ken Jenkins (D-16), “It is clear from Sustainable Playland’s letter they now recognize that the Board of Legislators has to decide upon more than the improvements proposed for Playland.   Since 2010, the Board of Legislators has been clear that it has the final say over Playland.  To now, feign surprise and frustration over a process that has been clearly articulated is astounding.”

Jenkins’ attorney Evan Inlaw said the lawsuit against Sustainable Playland and Westchester County will continue in May.

Today, the Board appears to have hardened their stance this statement:

“Democratic caucus members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) disputed the assertions made recently by Kim Morque, president of the not-for-profit Sustainable Playland, Inc. (SPI) that the review of SPI’s Playland Improvement Plan (PIP) is preventing efforts to revitalize the County’s iconic park from moving forward.

A recent letter from Morque to County Executive Rob Astorino details SPI’s criticism of the BOL review of the PIP undertaken by the BOL Labor/Parks/Planning/Housing Committee (LPPH), chaired by Legislator Pete Harckham (D-North Salem), and says the legislators are “being asked to judge” the PIP “based on their individual perspectives and sense of how Playland should serve the community in the future, rather than from any shared vision.”

At the request of the County Executive’s office and SPI, the BOL review process of the PIP has been on hold since the beginning of April, ostensibly until legal issues are clarified.

However, as part of their legislative and financial oversight obligation, BOL members raised a number of important issues during a review of SPI’s Traffic and Parking Report at a LPPH meeting on March 25, including repeated requests for financial projections and detailed environmental information.

Since this information from SPI is still outstanding, the organization’s withdrawal from the review process seems more of refusal to put up with too many questions from the County.

“SPI agreed to this review process, so it should have been prepared to face a lot of questions about their planned changes, from top to bottom, at Playland,” said Harckham. “The ball is still in their court. I want to be optimistic that SPI will come to its senses and simply realize that the Board of Legislators is exercising due diligence for all of our residents and taxpayers.”

“It is unreasonable for SPI to argue that a lack of a ‘shared vision’ for Playland’s future is holding up the PIP review process,” said BOL Majority Leader Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining), who guided a review of the plans for Playland’s revitalization last year. “It was SPI’s job to offer a vision of Playland’s future, as spelled out in County Executive Astorino’s original request for proposals, not the Board of Legislators.”

Added Borgia, “If SPI is interested in continuing with this open and transparent review process, which everyone agrees is a necessary step before we hand the keys to Playland over to SPI or any other potential partner, then they are welcome to return to the committee.”

Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson) said: “The BOL’s mission regarding Playland includes both responsible stewardship of taxpayer assets and overseeing a treasured park that Westchester residents and others can enjoy.  A successful amusement park has long been, and continues to be, the heart of Playland.  I am perplexed as to what SPI finds confusing about this.”

“Playland is a historical recreational facility owned by the all the people of Westchester County,” noted Legislator Ben Boykin (D-White Plains). “It is my responsibility to ensure that it is operated in a safe and economically sound manner, and that it is revitalized to provide amusement opportunities, educational benefits and dining options for the years to come. The process that was established under Legislator Harckham to review SPI’s proposal was fair and thorough. The time to move forward, with or without SPI, is now.”

 

 

 

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Photographs of the Day by the WPCNR ROVING PHOTOGRAPHER. Amodio’s advises Plants affected will Survive. Their Flower in Bloom maybe not.

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Snowy Southend

 

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Huddling Hyacinths

 

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Global Warming? My flippers!

WPCNR checked with Mary of Amodio’s Nursery in White Plains. She tells residents concerned about their plants that have flowered, not to attempt to brush snow off the flowers that have bloomed. She says bulbs of the plants have not been damaged and will come back next year. She advises the flowers that have come out may not “weather” the surprise April 16 chilling and icing, that the sun will melt off the snowy crust,  but says plant lovers should not “take a blow dryer to it.”

She notes that the gree foilage of the plants will not be hurt and those that have not bloomed should be all right.

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Snow Ball in Fort Wayne!

WPCNR VIEW FROM THE UPPER DECK IN FORT WAYNE, INDIANA. From White Plains’ Mike Couzens’ Column IT’S ALL RELATIVE April 15, 2014:

White Plains High’s graduate Mike Couzens whose mug heads the It’s All Relative Column reprinted here, is Promotion Director and the Voice of the Fort Wayne Tincaps in Fort Wayne, Indiana. John Nolan guested this column telling of the wonder of a late snow that many players had never seen before.

 

http://tincaps.mlblogs.com/author/mlblogstincaps1/

Snow on April 14? Snow on April 14.

by It’s All Relative

Monday night at Parkview Field was one of those games you had to see to believe. Early in the morning on Monday, the temperature in Fort Wayne was as high as 70 degrees. Now that shouldn’t be all that surprising given that it’s mid-April, but considering the winter here and the start to spring, it felt even more magnificent than usual.

And then this happened.

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That’s a look at Parkview Field last night around 10:30. The TinCaps and Burlington Bees started on schedule at 7:05 without any precipitation — just cold. The temperature at first pitch was 41. But it only continued to dip as the game went on. A misty rain turned into a freezing rain and eventually the field was covered in snow. During the top of the 7th, with Burlington up, 4-2, the game was finally put into a “snow delay” and then called after the mandatory 30-minute waiting period.

Personally, I’d never witnessed a snow delay or snow-shortened game before. Neither had every player I talked to afterward. The ensuing scene was wild.

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There’s TinCaps outfiedler Ronnie Richardson holding a snowball and having Bees pitcher Garrett Nuss take his picture. Both are from Florida and played together at UCF. The climate’s a bit different in Orlando. (By the way, in the 6th when the snow was starting to pick up, Ronnie drew a walk. Gotta admire that discipline.)

How about this below: Once the game was put into a snow delay and Fort Wayne’s staff was bringing the tarp out, Burlington’s team didn’t sprint to the clubhouse to get out of the cold. Nope. They took a team photo together on the field!

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The only times I’ve ever seen a team pose for a postgame picture have been after championships or major milestones. Snow? I guess why not. It was certainly unique.

On the other side, the reaction of TinCaps players was different than usual, too. Not to say the team wasn’t disappointed to lose, but given the circumstances, most guys weren’t necessarily sulking as much as they were trying to embrace the moment. Fort Wayne’s roster is primarily comprised of players from the Dominican, Mexico, Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas. Some had literally never seen snow before, let alone played in it.

So here’s what the yard looked like when we arrived this morning (Tuesday) around 9:00. And below is what it looks like right now as we get set for a 7:05 first pitch.

Even Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney is impressed. TinCaps Head Groundskeeper Keith Winter, Assistant Groundskeeper Andrew Burnette, Scott Rhodes, Jake, and crew are as good as it gets in Minor League Baseball.

So now the snow is gone, though unfortunately the cold is not. It’s 33 right now and feeling like 23 with the wind… But we will play ball!

Hope you can join me with Mike Couzens on XFINITY Channel 81 in the local viewing area or Mike Maahs over on The Fan 1380.

Have you ever seen a baseball game played in the snow? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

As an update–they played ball on Tuesday night…The Tincaps report it was the coldest in the ballpark’s history. Our temperature at first pitch was 33, and by the end of the night, the temperature was in the 20s with a windchill of 19. Yes, it was April 15. The Tincaps won, 13-3.
It’s All Relative | April 15, 2014 at 6:31 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: http://wp.me/p1rXtJ-8Vgt
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City Captains Pass in the Night in a Sea of Financial Icebergs City, Schools Must Cut $1.7 Million apiece for 2015-16 Rebate. City Sales Tax Receipts one third of Inflation over last 10 years

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WPCNR Quill & Eyeshade. Commentary By John F. Bailey  Originally published May 10, 2006 UPDATED TO TODAY April 14, 2014:

Tonight, 102 years ago, the RMS Titanic was steaming across the iceberg strewn North Atlantic. It had received dire warnings of icebergs in its path, yet it was slicing through the waters at 21 knots (25 miles per hour) on instructions by the White Star Line manager, J. Bruce Ishmay, to set a new transatlantic speed record. An ill-fated quest for the Titanic struck an iceberg 102 years ago tonight and sunk 2 A.M. Tuesday morning 102 years ago

Last  Monday evening, the Mayor of White Plains presented his budget to the Common Council.

Meanwhile, in another part of town… not too far away the interim  Superintendent of Schools Timothy Connors advised the school board it would have to cut $5 Million in three years to qualify White Plains taxpayers for a property tax rebate of 2% that is  part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s effort to force cities, towns and school districts to trim spending to ease the property taxes on New York State residents.

WPCNR notes last Monday was a missed opportunity for both leaders to call for  a public town meeting of the minds and exchequers, perhaps form another task force to combine portions of their budgets  as they sail on a financial sea afloat with financial icebergs:

The Captains of the two “ships of the city,” the School District Titanic  (because it has the bigger budget and the constituency that cares the most, and the City Hall as the Carpathia (the Titanic rescue ship),  could have taken that public relations (at the very least gesture)  last Monday  night as an opportunity to entertain possible solutions to steering around their twin financial icebergs:

The first iceberg is the city “roll-over-and-play-dead, never-met-a-certiorari-I-didn’t-grant” response to certioraris popular 7 years ago that crippled the city assessibles. Though certs have fallen off due to the long recession, those companies are due to come back and take back more to reflect their assessments the last 8 years. They do it because they can.

The second iceberg is the school district reluctance to trim staff, attack its bureaucracy, and trim the automatic increase they deliver every year minimum in the school budget. Previously up to 2006-07, the district was raising the budget 6 to 7% a year.

Now the recession and the Governor Cuomo tax cap have cut that annual rollover to around 3%. It’s still a lot.

No, the mutual reaching out between the School district and the City of White Plaind did not happen in White Plains last Monday night.

The Mayor and Superintendent met in separate sites in the same city. Much as the Titanic wallowed for two and a half hours before sinking while the ship California, a mere 3 miles away from the Titanic ignored the distress calls, and five other ships within two hours’ sail, passed her by. Only the Carpathia, 40 miles away steamed to Titanic rescue.

Neither Captain of the two city ships seems particularly interested in working seriously to a joint solution to the laissez faire budget trends of either financial ship.

A joint committee of city and community and school representatives wallowed for a year trying to find services that could be consolidated and managed only to save an estimated $75,000 a  year in savings for the school district (on a $184 Million school budget) with the city handling the district vechicle maintenance. The city throws away that money on studies in the blink of an eye when it suits them and pays millions to legal firms.

One City Captain, the Mayor,  does not jawbone businesses who file certioraris, has not explored a quid pro quo that could protect city taxpayers from bleeding certioraris from business.

Before the Bradley-Roach administration took office, In 2006 in the last year of the “Renaissance”  in the city, statements were made that the city  has had 1,000 businesses have come to the city. I did not get a list then from the city.

Realtor Worry about White Plains Exodus

These days businesses are trying to leave White Plains as soon as they can, because the rents are too high. A commerical broker told me last  Wednesday that within the last month, 7 businesses in White Plains csmr to her, seeking to move out of White Plains. That is just one broker.

While the other Captain, the interim Superintendent of Schools, of course will give the helm to a new leader in July  (candidates are going to be presented to the Board this month). It is not his problem to steer the ship.

That new superintendent will be confronted with the need more than ever  to institute an aggressive program to cut school district budget growth because the Governor wants them to.

Both Captains seem to be imitating each others’ spending policies, while feeding taxpayers, human coal into the boilers of their respective city financial engines, burning up senior citizens’ retirement savings, raising taxes inexorably.

The question is when will they run out of coal (taxpayers)?

Now what could be gained by a public meeting of the Mayor and the new Superintendent of Schools? You never know.

Can the Mayor show some numbersmanship to take hold of his budget? It continues to grow unchecked due to blind faith in development falling short of expectations, while the development creates new spending needs that outpace development benefits.

Can a new School Superintendent embark on budget projections and spending cuts in anticipation of city certioraris before rather than after the fact? Could a certiorari “giveback” penalty be enacted by the city fathers to make cert-filers think twice before “cert-ing”?

Could the city, rather than balancing budget  by selling off assets, cut its budget just a tad?

Will the Common Council refuse to give raises to Commissioners this year? Will they demand cuts? Perhaps a more than a token cut might be made?

Cuomo 2nd and 3rd year  2% rebates a big challenge for the leaders who do not have “cut” in their minds

The Common Council goes into its annual show of worrying over the city budget, Wednesday at six P.M in the Mayor’s conference room.

Here’s something they should talk about;

In order to deliver 1% savings on taxes in 2015-16 to generate 2% taxpayer property tax rebates under Governor Cuomo’s tax rebate plan aimed at making local governments responsible for property tax reform (and not the state) , the city must cut spending 1%.

That will be a new trick the Council has not done in only one year,  the 14 years I have covered the city.

Based on the budget Mayor Tom Roach presented last week, he is passing that buck literally to the Common Council to cut  the budget $1.76  Million next year to  qualify residents for the tax cap in 2015-16. If they cut the proposed budget they are taking up Wednesday,. they would get a jump on next year. I would think that would be wise, wouldn’t you?

Maybe they will not have to cut that much, though, maybe some expenses are exempt under the fine print of the Albany legislation. That may be further explained. But even a $1 cut is difficult for this council to make.

The city, though appears to be taking its cue from the School District 25 year traditional habit of spending and the city is playing great catch up ball.

Let’s look at the way it was 8 years ago: the City combined operating budget for 2006-2007 was $146.3 Million. The city budget was growing at 5.2% a year 2% over the inflation rate at that time. It is continuing to double approximately  the inflation rate

According to John Callahan, the City Corporation Council, this is the rate of city growth in taxes the last four years by the tax rate per $1,000 of accessed valuation:

FY 2010-11: $167.82  UP 6.9%

FY 2011-12: $176.11  UP  4.9%

FY 2012-13: $184.47 UP 4.75%

FY 2013-14:  $191.74  UP  3.9%

and last Monday’s FY 2014-15: $196.14  UP 2.3%

This is what happens when you spend more than your revenues and bet on the next big check, borrow for the future against the present.

Meanwhile in the Southend of town…

The School Budget is $100,000 short of a landmark $200 Million a year Budget

It is conceivable that rising expenses will bring additonal budget increases well beyond $200 Million very quickly to keep the School District Titanic steaming ahead with a full compliment of crew .

It is interesting to note that if that happens the budget will go from $165.8 Million this year (2006-2007) to $200 Million in two years.

If the school board continues raising the budget 4% (assuming 1.5% inflation in rising expenses to the district a year,( a conservative estimate), look where the school budget will go in 5 years:

2015-16: $207,896,000

2016-17: $216,211,840

2017-18: $224,860,313

2018-19: $233,854,725

2019-20: $243,208,914

Scary isn’t it?

Interim Superintendent of Schools Timothy Connors in a memo to the School Board last week on the effects of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “shared services plan,” due from the city and the school district June 1, 2015, wrote:

“For the White Plains School District, the 1% would equal a required savings each of $1,670,627 or $5,011,881 over 3 years.”

That $1.7 Million is very close to what the city has to save  to get you, Mr. and Mrs. White Plains your 2% tax rebates the next three years.

Given the unwillingness to cut spending — a tradition of both the school district and the city administrations– we need an evangelical and patriotic spirit of resolution to slow the two Titanics down.

When both the city and the school district increase spending when revenues are, in the school district case, dwindling, and in the city’s case, not rising as fast as they would like, something or someone has got to give.

Usually it is you and me, the taxpayer. We keep on giving more each year for less. Less performance, less progress, less everything.

Are the financial Captains and the School Board members and Common Council members going to take a look, together?

City and school district financial policy is flooding red ink all over the city books, despite contrived surpluses by counting loans as revenue, by  bonding for doubtful projects, fire sales of land we delay payment for (remember the commuter parking lot we are still owed money for?), and assurances that development will save the day. Maybe development will. It has not so far.

Plugging the monetary gash in the side of the School District Titanic with tax increases, stopgap borrowing, while the Carpathia of the city government steams in circles  instead of coming to the rescue is aggravating the revenue situation for both city and school district.

Both revenue sources are drying up on the city and the school district.

It does not take a Ph.D. or an MBA to figure that out.  Because the Ph.Ds and MBA’s have not figured it out. All you have to do is look at your tax bill.

As a  Mayor of the past was  fond of saying, and some councilpersons and school board members still echo, “it all comes out of the same pocket.” Well it is our pockets. And you keep reaching in for more.

In the future, the city has to find some way to stop the certioraris.

The city has to extract an infrastructure tax of some kind with new development

The school district must cut..

The entire city has to wake up and smell the coffee that development has to be done, but you have to extract a fair amount of taxes out of the developers and commercial taxpayers so the homeowner does not subsidize businesses…which we are.

White Plains economy in slackwater.

A WPCNR review of White Plains City retail sales tax receipts shows that the real increase in city sales tax revenues in ten years is way behind inflation.

The real increase in city development  has only risen $1.6 Million a year since 2002-2003 when the city sales tax collected was $34,413,400  in sales tax

Last Fiscal Year,  2012-13,  the city collected $50 Million in sales tax revenues, $15.6 million  or 45% more than ten years ago — even with sales tax increases.

However the Consumer Price Index in the tri-state metropolitan area according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics has gone up 158% in those ten years.

This I believe is sobering during a period when by inflation alone, if the retail market was being shopped and even with the action generated by the short-lived Renaissance, city sale tax only advanced at a rate  one-third of inflation in the NY-NJ Metropolitan area. That is hard to comprehend.

The city really needs to address this problem of shopper and restaurant-frequenter loss. Either that or the proper amount of sales taxes due is being underpaid or underreimbursed by the state for reasons God knows what. How can the downtown redevelopment White Plains has experienced deliver so little.

Mayors past and present say there is nothing they can do about the certioraris. That is not the answer. Together the two captains should get their ships together soon with the commercial businesses that are creating these financial icebergs because they can. You can hardly blame them.

The question the two captains (city leader and school superintendent to come) have to engage is:

When do the tax increases become too much for the well-meaning and generous White Plains taxpayers to bear? When will the populaces who believe all the city hall and school district hand-wringing and finger-pointing, realize what is happening and why?

Do they care?

As then- Superintendent Connors said Tuesday evening at the Council of Neighborhood Associations back in 2006 , “everything is relative,” noting that the same things were said about the budget twenty years ago.

The only answer is that the people of White Plains simply do not care about competant management. They want to believe the politicians who always claim they are mindful and always say their budgets are lean and barebones, and they are increasing budgets “for the kids.”

It is more comfortable to go to your financial ruin when nice, smart people are saying they are doing all they can.

The alternative that they do not care is unthinkable to comtemplate.

Why update a previously published article?

It shows how the more things are said that things have changed, the more they remain the same.

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Andy Spano, former Westchester County Executive, Goes Back to Work for the State Board of Elections

WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. From the Office of the Governor. April 14, 2014:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the appointment of Andrew J. Spano to the New York State Board of Elections. Mr. Spano was recommended for this appointment by Assemblyman Keith Wright in his capacity as Chair of the New York State Democratic Party. The Board of Elections serves as a bipartisan agency responsible for the administration and enforcement of election laws in New York State.

“By agreeing to join the Board of Elections, Andy will carry on his long career in public service and uphold New York State’s commitment to fair and responsible elections,” Governor Cuomo said. “I want to thank Assemblyman Keith Wright for his recommendation on this appointment and welcome Andy Spano to the State’s Board of Elections.”

“Andrew Spano will serve as a worthy addition to New York State’s Board of Elections,” Assemblyman Keith Wright said. “I am thrilled that Governor Cuomo has agreed with this nomination, and I am sure that Andrew will use his insight and experience to protect the integrity of elections in New York State.”

Mr. Spano said, “I am honored to be appointed by Governor Cuomo to the New York State Board of Elections. New Yorker’s deserve a watchdog at the Board that protects the integrity of our elections and ensures that the voice of the people is heard. I look forward to being that figure and working with the other Commissioners to raise the integrity of elections across the State.”

Mr. Spano has worked as a teacher, counselor and administrator in both New York City and Westchester County for nearly thirty years. He also helped to establish the United Federation of Teachers in New York City, which seeks to raise educational standards and advocates on behalf of fair working conditions for education professionals.

After his educational career, Mr. Spano served as the Westchester County Clerk for four years and then as the Chairman of the Westchester County Democratic Party. In 1998 he was elected Westchester County Executive for three terms. Mr. Spano also served as a member of the Governor’s SAGE commission and is Vice President of the Board of Managers at the Trump Park Residences in Shrub Oak.

As a result of this appointment, Mr. Spano joins Commissioner Gregory P. Peterson as well as Co-Chairs James A. Walsh and Douglas A. Kellner. 

Posted in Uncategorized

County Mortgage Tax down in First Quarter. Off 20%, Though “handle” is highest since 2008

WPCNR HOME FRONT. Special to WPCNR from the Westchester County Clerk. April 14, 2014:

While 2013 mortgage tax revenue was the highest Westchester County had seen since 2008, first quarter revenue figures show that 2014 has gotten off to a slow start with only $2,808,388 collected for the county from January 1st through March 31st of this year.

The mortgage tax, considered a major county revenue source, has languished in recent years as the national economy and our local real estate market recovered.

The first quarter collections are the lowest since 2009, and almost 20% below last year’s first quarter collections.

“We are hopeful that the improvement we are seeing in our local real estate market will result in a steady increase in this important revenue source in the second half of the year,” stated Idoni whose office collects mortgage tax for Westchester County.

First Quarter Mortgage Tax Collected (County Portion Only)

 

 

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

January

2,056,319.02

889,557.74

1,282,613.77

1,220,971.17

921,922.83

1,392,542.95

1,013,744.09

February

1,548,107.56

742,254.33

1,076,926.44

1,053,435.79

983,990.54

954,144.70

889,047.28

March

1,645,935.52

986,920.91

1,004,317.86

1,264,484.45

941,777.86

1,157,556.16

905,596.92

TOTAL:

5,250,362.10

2,618,732.98

3,363,858.07

3,538,891.41

2,847,691.23

3,504,243.81

2,808,388.29

           

The total 2014 mortgage tax for the county is budgeted as $19,826,409, less than half of the $39,836,895 collected in 2005 when the real estate market was at its recent peak.  County mortgage tax collected in 2013 totaled $16,997,949.29.

For more information about the Office of the County Clerk, please call (914)995-3080 or visit www.WestchesterClerk.com.

Posted in Uncategorized