The following letter was published in this week’s issue of the Gazette.
To the Editor:
Last week in these pages, Trustee Richard Olver blamed the Croton-Harmon School District for residents’ high rate of property taxes. Two weeks ago, local Democratic party boss Richard Masur tried to blame Croton United for his party’s failure to get the Croton Point Avenue project done during any time since 2009 that his party has had sole control of the village.
As Joel Gingold might say: C’mon guys. Take responsibility for what you’ve done.
Is there fat in the school district budget and are there areas where reasonable school district residents could disagree as to spending priorities? No doubt. And it is certainly true that school taxes make up the largest single portion of real property taxes. However, the notable lack of anger or contention concerning school district budgeting and leadership is also without doubt a result of the fact that Croton-Harmon schools are delivering—to their students, to the taxpayers and for those homeowners whose home values are positively impacted by the excellence with which the school district conducts its business.
By contrast, what is the value being imparted by the conduct of village business as reflected in the village budget?
Just scanning recent events, Croton’s Board of Trustees has committed to spending the remainder of the “perpetual” Gouveia endowment (over $700K) on paving the park in order to prepare this property to become the Recreation Department office (another $500K) and a truck/vehicle parking lot. How far we’ve come since the days when “Gouveia Park” was going to remain a unique open space that enhanced the value of our homes.
Residents should be prepared over the next three years to see the village board undertaking a renovation of the Municipal Building and expansion of the Police Department, budgeted for just over four and a quarter million dollars.
If Mr. Masur gets his way, residents should also be prepared to borrow millions (yet to be determined—increased from an original projection of $300,000) for the installation of several new stoplights and two dead-end bike lanes on Croton Point Avenue.
More immediately, now that the new construction on South Riverside and Benedict Boulevard is finding tenants, we see that resident concerns about commercial encroachment in residential neighborhoods which were wholly ignored by prior Democratic boards are now becoming a reality. With only ONE new building opening so far, commercial parking on Young Avenue is being discussed by the Planning Board. Heads-up for those in the new rezoning corridor.
Our village board’s primary responsibility to the residents and taxpayers is to govern in such a manner as to maintain and enhance the value of our investments in this village. When the board truly takes responsibility for this, blame shifting will not be necessary.