WPCNR THE LETTER TICKER. JULY 2, 2015:
WPCNR POLICE GAZETTE. SPECIAL TO WPCNR from Robert Riley, President, White Plains Police Benevolent Association. June 30, 2015:
WPCNR COMMON COUNCIL-CHRONICLE EXAMINER.By John F. Bailey JUNE 29, 2015:
In discussion last night that began with the city consultant and advisor Susan Habel, former City Planning Commissioner in attendance, three Councilpersons,Council President John Martin, Councilwoman Nadine Hunt-Robinson and Mayor Roach himself, in addition to Councilpersons Milagros Lecuona and Dennis Krolian expressed doubts about the project that their analysis of the 200 page document raised.
The process to resolve those questions to the Council satisfaction, including Mayor Tom Roach could involve another question and answer session either behind closed doors or in public.
Corporation Counsel John Callahan told WPCNR it was up to the Common Council to decide on how they wanted to proceed to get the answers to those questions whether from FASNY or the city legal counsel on the project.
Councilwoman Milagros Lecuona, steady opponent of the efficacy of The French American School of New York proposal to build a school campus on the grounds of the former Ridgeway Golf Club, raised the issue of whether the school had the financial resources to build the project, given extensive revisions to the Storm Water drainage system required by the new storm water plan approved by former Commissioner of Public Works, Joseph Nicoletti.
She told WPCNR after the meeting, the delay in approval of the storm water plan was due to new environmental storm water regulations promulgated last fall, which the administration she told me did not tell the Common Council. Lecuona strongly disagreed with Councilman John Kirkpatrick who said it was time to move on and that change has to come. She bluntly turned to him and said though Kirkpatrick said the city had gotten a lot from FASNY through the plan changes already negotiated, she did not believe FASNY had given up enough. ” We got bigger buildings.Less open space. I would have liked to seen the buildings smaller. The proposal has not been mitigated enough.”
Lecuona in addition said that the amount of money FASNY was going to pay for the taking of a portion of Hathaway Lane was not spelled out and it should be. She added that she has yet to see a model or rendering of the plan in detail that gave her a good idea of the sightlines and what the project would actually look like in proportion and location. She mocked Kirkpatrick’s expressing the city could lose litigation if they did not approve the projec. She said “We need to ask what we think is right.“
Councilman Dennis Krolian declined to ask any questons of the city legal consultant or Ms. Habel. He told WPCNR that he did not want to ask his legal counsel on the project legal opinion in a public televised meeting, since this would be giving up future right to attorney-client privilege. He said the original intent of this meeting was to enable the council to ask questions of the legal counsel and Ms. Habel. He felt the meeting should not have been public.
Council President John Martin had what he called technical questions. His main concern was the length of time before the EMERGENCY entrance off Ridgeway (not North Street as previously reported )proposed by the plan was completed was too long. He expressed safety concerns about the emergency entrance for public safety vehicles off Ridgeway. He pointed out that the amount of time the new emergency entrance off Ridgeway would be open to the public should be 6 AM to 6 PM, 365 days a year from the Hathaway Lane side and Ridgeway, in an email clarifying his comment, he wrote WPCNR: ”All of the comments you noted I made were in relation to the petition to close a portion of Hathaway. My 6am to 6pm request is for opening their Emergency Access Driveway (generally the Hathaway access area) to the public on all 365 days of the year. I have no preference as to when anybody visits the Conservancy!”
Councilwoman Beth Smayda who did not arrive until 6: 15 P.M. (meeting beganat 5:30), had very brief comments that could not be picked up by this reporter because the chamber was not adequately microphoned.
Councilwoman Nadine Hunt-Robinson said she was not sure that the safety concerns had been fully answered and fit the parameters of a decision in a case involving Cornell University that spelled out that safety concerns had to be more than adequately mitigated, that any project could not be less safe than it was before the project was built.
Queried about this fine line of mitigation by Councilman Krolian, as to whether she felt the FASNY legislation and mitigation steps met this standard,Councilwoman Hunt-Robinson said, “My feeling is it has not.”
The Mayor, in a surprise, expressed doubts as to how the project could proceed without impacting the neighborhood adversely for years. He felt that four years of construction for the first phase was too long especially with a second phase to follow.
WPCNR COMMON COUNCIL-CHRONICLE EXAMINER. By John F. Bailey. June 29, 2015:
In a settlement that Budget and Management Committee Chair Councilperson Beth Smayda said kept overall police salaries under 2%, the Common Council approved a 6 year police contract with the White Plains Police Benevolent Association Monday evening.
The contract as previously reported gives police retroactive raises of 2% and 2% and 2% for years 2012-13, 13-14, 14-15 in lump sums, and gives the police 2% in the new year starting July 1, and 2- 1/4% and 2- 1/2% in years 2016-17 and 2017-18, The overall increase in pay 12-3/4%, nor counting compounding.
The savings Corporation Counsel John Callahan told WPCNR was in lowering beginning officer salaries after July 1, 2015. Those new officers added after July 1 would also pay 15% of their health benefits going forward. Those officers retired now who were hired after July 1, 1995 also continue to receive their full retirement health benefits, which also add to the savings. Officers hired before 1995 are in federal court fighting the city decision to force them to pay 15% of their medical care benefits.
Other unions previously had take no raises in the three years previous, while the WPBA opted for arbitration.
WPCNR awaits a statement from the WPPBA. The settlement will affect the fire fighters immediately since they now fall behind the police in pay with this settlement.
More detailsas they become available.
FLASH! The Common Council will consider ratification of a Stipulation of Agreement with the White Plains Police Monday who have been without a contract for three years. The 6-YEAR agreement runs from 2012-13 through June, 2018 and gives police 2% raises for the first four years of the contract, 2.25% the fifth year(2016-17) and 2.5% the sixth year (2017-18) The raises outdistance the fire union contract for the retroactive years, when the fire department agreed to two years of no raises and three years of 2% increases.
As of Saturday morning, the Mayor’s Office and the White Plains Police Benvolent Association, the bargaining unit for the police have not released statements to WPCNR .
In examining the proposed agreement, WPCNR notes the city has negotiated police agreements calling for officers to pay a portion of their health care benefits going forward, as follows:
The city will continue to pay all premium cost of family coverage under the NYS Empire Health Insurance Program, except employees hired after June 28, 1991 and before the ratification of the 2012-2018 agreement will be required to pay 25% of the cost of health premiums for their first five years of employment with the city.
For new officers hired after ratification, they will be required to pay 15% of the premium charged for individual or family coverage.
Retirees hired after July 1, 1995, and before ratification of the new agreement, who currently are receiving fully paid health benefits in retirement will continue to enjoy that retirement benefit. The same 100% payment by the city will also continue to apply for those hired before July 1, 1995 and retiring after ratification of the new contract.
The agreement saves 45 WPBA union retirees who retired after July 1, 1995 before the city payment of 100% of health plan payments agreement went into affect.
The agreement does not affect the 30 police retirees involved in the federal lawsuit against the city which said that because they were not covered by the July 1, 1995 agreement that they would have to pay 15% of their retirement health care benefits. That suit is still on going in federal court.
Preliminary details are that step salary increases will be increased 2% each year for first three years of the contract. In July 2016 the step salary increase will be 2.25% and an additional 2.5% in July 2017.
Longevity payments for employees hired on or after July 1, 2015 will receive in addition to regular salary of 3% plus $350 at 10 years of service on the force and 4% plus $350 at 15 years, but payment will begin as of July 1st of each year following eligibility.
The agreement has already been ratified by the White Plains Patrolman’s Benevolent Association according to the city backup material.
The Fire Fighters unit, on the other hand, agreed to two years of no salary step increases in 2012-13 with the city, and 2013-14, AND agreed to three 2% increases. The police through arbitration agreed to accept two zeros but now with this new agreement ratified by the police union, they have negotiated 2% raises for the last 3 years, and 2%, 2-1/4% and 2-1/2% for 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18
WPCNR THE LETTER TICKER. JUNE 27, 2015:
WPCNR THE AGONY OF THE RECOVERY. From the First Niagara Bank Leadership Conversation Series. June27, 2015
The transformation of the suburban real estate market and its economy over the next 20 years will entail repurposing office space with a smart combination of healthcare uses, residential and light retail, a leading commercial developer told an audience of more than 100 business leaders at the Business Council of Westchester’s First Niagara Bank Leadership Conversations Series this week.
Joseph Simone, President and CEO of Simone Development Companies, said Westchester must modernize its antiquated office parks — particularly along the I-287 corridor – and repurpose existing buildings to reflect significant shifts and consolidations in the healthcare industry; changing housing needs for young professionals that are near public transportation and advances in new technologies.
“The suburbs are going to be repurposed for other, higher and better uses,” Simone said. “Things have to be done way more efficiently.”
Simone’s remarks were part of fascinating 45-minute interview between Simone and Business Council CEO Marsha Gordon. Topics discussed included Simone’s role in creating with the first “bedless” hospital with Montefiore Health Systems; his company’s plans to transform the Boyce Thompson property in Yonkers and the explosive growth of New York City’s outer boroughs that will no doubt lead to opportunities for Westchester’s urban centers, notably Yonkers, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and White Plains. Referring to the urban centers, he said, “That’s where young people are going to live. But you have to provide public transportation.”
Simone knows of what he speaks. Simone Development Companies is a full-service real estate investment company that owns and manages more than 5 million square feet of property in Westchester, the Bronx, Queens, Long Island and Connecticut.
Under Simone’s visionary leadership, the company has been in the forefront of partnering with major healthcare providers to create turnkey ambulatory medical facilities in the New York metropolitan area, with over 2 million square feet of new healthcare and medical office space currently built or in development.
In Westchester, Simone Development recently completed a state-of-the-art medical office building for WESTMED Medical Group at the Purchase Professional Park; it is the first new office building to be constructed on the I-287 corridor in more than 25 years. Simone Development earlier this month broke ground on an innovative project that will transform the former Boyce Thompson horticultural complex in Yonkers into a modern mixed-use development featuring professional offices, medical space, retail stores, bank and restaurants.
During the conversation, Simone cited significant changes and monumental shifts that are happening in the healthcare industry that are creating a need for more efficient systems. The great news, he added, was that these changes are going to create new jobs and opportunities, and necessitate colleges and universities train students for careers in healthcare. He said these advances will reverberate into throughout the economy.
In describing why his visionary approach to real estate development has worked so well, Simone said: “It’s about fulfilling a need. If you fulfill people’s need, you will be successful.”
“Joe Simone’s vision and approach are fascinating and we appreciate that he shared his insight with our members,” Gordon said. “It’s clear that he is playing a key role in transforming the New York Metropolitan real estate market now and for years to come.”
WPCNR SPLASH REPORT. JUNE 26, 2015:
Westchester County pools opened today and Saxon Woods Pool was perfect today. The water was I’d say about 72 degrees, unusually comfortable such a short time and the chlorine level was very tolerable on the eyes and the facility was clean and just delightful.
WPCNR has to apologize for the lousy National Weather Service forecasts for White Plains this week. They have been wrong everyday. We could all do with a lot less weather reports and more news since the boys and girls at weather central apparently do not look out the window when doing their forecasts. I say get your ahead out of the radar scopes and look at wind direction and humidity levels. You either have too much information and do not interpret it correctly or forecast too far in advance.
So if the weather is wrong again tomorrow…the pool at Saxon Woods is open, very comfortable to swim in and is just glorious.
WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. From the Governor’s Press Office. June 25, 2015, 7:30 P.M.:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced details of a final agreement on a number of major priorities for the end of the 2015-16 legislative session.
Governor Cuomo said: “Today, we have reached an agreement on robust, comprehensive reforms that put the people of New York first. We are strengthening rent laws and extending them for four years in the New York City area to protect more than two million tenants. We are also extending the property tax cap and creating a $1.3 billion property tax rebate program to provide significant relief to homeowners across the state. And we are providing $250 million to support the education of roughly 400,000 students in the state’s non-public schools. These are the kinds of reforms that keep New York moving forward, creating a better life and livelihood for people in virtually every corner of the state, and I am proud to have fought to make them a reality.”
The legislation introduced today contains a variety of significant reforms and actions, including:
Strengthening and Extending Rent Laws in New York City and Other Metropolitan Areas
The New York metropolitan region’s rent laws will be extended for four years, and will be made retroactive to June 15, 2015. Further, additional reforms will be made to strengthen these laws, including: · Increasing and indexing the high rent threshold to the applicable rent guidelines board (rent guidelines boards apply different rents to different geographic areas). This will make it more difficult for units to be removed from rent regulation because it will allow for the high rent watermark to float based on the rent guidelines board increases.
· Vacancy decontrol limits will be increased to $2,700, and annual increases thereafter will be indexed to the Rent Guidelines Board.
· Increasing civil harassment penalties. These provisions increase monetary penalties imposed on landlords who harass tenants by approximately $1,000, to $3,000 for each offense and up to $11,000 for each offense where the owner harassed a tenant to obtain a vacancy.
· Extends the Major Capital Improvement amortization period from 84 months to 108 for buildings over 35 units and 84 months to 96 for buildings under 35 units. The legislation limits the amount of rent that landlords can charge tenants in order to receive reimbursement for necessary improvements or installations.
· Limits the vacancy bonus provided to landlords on tenants who receive preferential rent as a way to stop the “churn” on these units.
Extending the Property Tax Cap and Cutting Taxes for Homeowners
The legislation extends the property tax cap for an additional four years. Since its enactment in 2011, the real property tax cap has dramatically reduced the growth in local property taxes. Through the first three years of the Cap, the typical property taxpayer has saved more than $800, compared to if taxes had continued to grow at the previous growth rate. If the trend continues, by 2017, the typical taxpayer will have saved more than $2,100 in local property taxes as a result of the Cap.
Building on the success of the property tax cap, the legislation includes a new Property Tax Credit that will provide more than $3.1 billion over four years in direct relief to struggling New York taxpayers. The program is progressively structured so that taxpayers with lower incomes receive a higher benefit.
In the first year, 2016, the program will be coupled with the existing Property Tax Freeze credit to provide a total average credit of $350. Beginning in 2017, the program will provide property tax relief based on a percentage of a homeowner’s STAR benefit, with lower incomes receiving a larger percentage. All homeowners with incomes below $275,000 who live in school districts that comply with the property tax cap will be eligible to receive the credit. This year, 98 percent of school districts complied with the cap. When the program is fully phased-in for benefits provided in 2019, it will provide $1.3 billion of property tax relief and an average credit of $530.
Additionally, this agreement creates a program that will help communities that face decreased property tax revenue as a result of the loss or reduction in tax payments from power plants and other facilities that close in their community.
For New York City residents, the legislation extends by four years the $85 million, progressively structured “Circuit Breaker” tax relief program. Qualifying homeowners and renters with incomes below $200,000 are eligible to receive a refundable tax credit against the personal income tax when their property taxes or rent exceeds a certain percentage of their income.
Extending and Reforming 421-a
The legislation extends the 421-a program for six months, with a provision that allows representatives of labor and industry groups to reach a memorandum of understanding regarding wage protections for construction workers. If such an agreement is reached, the program will automatically be extended for four years.
Investing in Education
The legislation also includes major advancements in education policy and assistance for nonpublic schools in New York State. These include:
· Increased funding of $250 million to reimburse private schools for the costs of performing State-mandated services.
· The Parental Empowerment Act which requires additional disclosure of state exam questions and answers, the creation of a test content review committee by the State Education Department, and clarification of required components of the student growth model for teacher evaluations.
· A one-year extension of mayoral control of the New York City school system.
· An increase in the number of charter schools available to be issued in New York City to 50 and enhanced flexibility in teacher certification rules.
· $25 million to help resolve the acute financial challenges currently being faced by the Yonkers School District and $6 million to support programs to combat child poverty in the City of Rochester.
Finally, the legislation also amends current law to allow the sitting governor, or former governors, to officiate marriages in the State of New York. Previously, Governors could only solemnize marriages ceremonially, unless they were also ordained ministers.
Building on Progress
The Governor and legislative leaders also recently reached agreements on two other significant packages of legislation – the first ensuring that private colleges in the state establish a uniform and comprehensive set of policies to protect students from sexual violence, and the second giving the state the authority to crack down on bad actors in the nail salon industry, while also establishing a new licensing program to help workers acquire new skills. Last week, the Governor and legislative leaders also reached an agreement on a bill to codify comprehensive reforms to overhaul the port authority of New York and New Jersey.
These reforms also build on the earlier accomplishments secured during the first half of the legislative session, including:· Landmark education reforms and a $1.3 billion increase in state education aid, bringing total state funding to $23.5 billion – the highest in New York’s history;
· New ethics laws to deter, detect and punish breaches of the public trust, including the nation’s strongest disclosure requirements for outside income;
· $5.4 billion investment in programs and initiatives to grow New York’s economy (such as the $1.5 billion Upstate Revitalization Initiative, a $1.3 billion investment in the New York State Thruway, and $500 million to establish the New NY Broadband Program and ensure statewide high-speed broadband access by the end of 2018); and
· An economic mobility agenda that includes investments in affordable housing, student loan relief, MWBE support, and homeless and hunger assistance programs.
THIS WEEK’S PEOPLE TO BE HEARD
WESTCHESTER COUNTY’S MOST RELEVANT INTERVIEW PROGRAM
TOWN SUPERVISOR OF GREENBURGH
HOW’S REASSESSMENT DOING IN GREENBURGH?
LICENSING MASSAGE PARLORS TO SHORTCIRCUIT HUMAN TRAFFICKING
THE GREENBURGH TOWN GOVERNMENT AND BOARD OF EDUCATION COMBINE TO PREPARE YOUTH FOR JOBS OF THE FUTURE
THE EFFECT OF NEW APARTMENTS/DEVELOPMENTS IN TOWNS ALONGSIDE THE SAW MILL PARKWAY
THE LACK OF MOVEMENT ON A MASS BUS TRANSIT PLAN TO COMPLEMENT THE NEW TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE
THE JURY IS STILL OUT ON THE PROPERTY TAX CAP
PETER KATZ AND JOHN BAILEY
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