WPCNR Drivetime Daily. UPDATED By John F. Bailey. May 16, 2002. 1:30 PM EDT: At the Common Council briefing on the Water Report Monday evening, the Council listened to Councilman William King’s major suggestions for budget cuts, and did not act on his suggestions.
Over the weekend, Councilman King had e-mailed fellow councilmembers with what Mayor Joseph Delfino had described as 150 suggestions for budget cuts in the 2002-03 budget scheduled to be decided upon by the Council Wednesday afternoon.
Mr. King clarified his comments on money saving to WPCNR Thursday, noting to us in an e-mail, “John – This year I proposed the City turn off 1/3 of its streetlights for an annual savings of $300K which would have been equal to a percentage point on the property tax increase. Last year, I proposed turning off ½ the streetlights. I proposed and will propose again that they be turned off primarily in the Downtown and along major arterials.”
Turn off Street Lights.
King’s number one issue was turning off one-third of the city’s street lights to save on electricity. King said he felt some residential neighborhoods and even some of the downtown were “too bright.” He said, “I don’t want to create mayhem in the streets.”
Glen Hockley worried that turning off street lights would create a security problem. Rita Malmud said she did not think any parts of the city were “too bright.”
Not Purchase Street Sweepers.
King also suggested the city could do without some of the Department of Public Works Streetsweepers, which mechanically sweep the streets from 12 AM to 6 PM, suggesting that he did not think they swept up too much litter from the streets. King told WPCNR Thursday that each new streetsweeper costs “$130K plus operating costs.”
Voting Machine Funding Put Off to 2003-04 Pending State Analysis.
King, resigned about his light-saving suggestion being coolly received, said he had hoped that saving electricity on lighting the city could help pay for the new voting machines or astro-turfing the Eastview fields.
Councilman Tom Roach and Council President Benjamin Boykin approached the need for new city voting machines two different ways.
Mr. Roach said that the state was about to make a decision on the types of electronic ballot format they would allow in future elections, and that the city may very well want to consider any new formats for electric voting machines approved. He also pointed out that funding from the federal level might assist in the machine acquisition.
Council President Boykin concurred that now was not the time to commit to new voting machines, and there was not a necessity to commit funds in the 2002-03 budget. Boykin said, “I don’t feel we’ll be behind. We can bond for it (new voting machines), once we know what we’re going to do. We’re going to have negotiating power. We are an important city to get (machines) into. We ought to be in the driver’s seat”
King expressed concern that new machines if not purchased this year would not be in place by 2003, (when the seats of Mr. King, Benjamin Boykin and Robert Greer are up for reelection).
Water Report Grim.
Budget Director Eileen Earl delivered the always popular Water Report of the Budget Advisory Committee, which called for deferring a water rate increase for one year. It noted that White Plains has the lowest average annual water charges in Westchester County ($115). This, the report says is less than a quarter of the high end water districts and half that of districts in the “middle range.”
They also recommended considering a higher rate increase for the biggest consumers of water in the city (industrial and businesses), if a rate increase is called for next year.
The Committee recommended requiring businesses to install new water meters in line with specifications determined by the city. The city reports water meters slow down with age, and “under-record” the amount of water used by businesses.
The BMC reported some $9.5 million in water infrastructure improvements underway or being contemplated which will impact the water fund.
The Land Report
Ms. Earl also presented the Land Report of the Budget and Management Advisory Committee which recommends sale of property at Havilands Lane at the extreme eastern end of Ridgeway for development, which the report feels can be developed carefully with Planning Board guidance. The Report calls for putting up two Liberty Street parcels if the $120,000 transactions are not completed “immediately.” The Committee calls for dedicating 9/11 Newcomb Place and two Cummings Avenue parcels as dedicated land, deleting them from the tax role.
The Real Estate Committee also recommends sale of 82 Sunset Drive and 128 Woodcrest Avenue, and a third parcel at Tarrytown Road and Harmon Street.