The following letter was published in this week’s issue of the Gazette.
To the editor:
We are used to hypocrisy from our federal and state politicians, but Washington and Albany have nothing on our own Democratic Village Board.
During last fall’s campaign, candidates Pugh, Horowitz, and Attias manufactured a huge issue over the Croton United Board’s one-year deferral of the purchase of a replacement for aging fire truck 118.
OMG, they cried! The existing apparatus is disintegrating before our very eyes! This is a really, really serious public safety concern!! Our very lives will be in danger until the new truck arrives!!! We’re doomed!!!! We’re all going to die!!!!! Somebody save us!!!!!! Please!!!!!!! Quickly!!!!!!!!
In the 2017-2018 budget adopted by the CU Board, the replacement was to be purchased in the 2018-2019 fiscal year at a cost of $700K. So, due to the extreme urgency of the situation, you would have expected that the very, very first thing the new Dem Board would do was to place an order for the new fire apparatus to save us all from certain extinction.
But is that what happened? Of course not. The first major expenditure made by the Dem Board was to purchase a $250K study and design for the ill-advised Croton Point Avenue Project. Clearly, in their opinion—and they certainly know better than anyone else in the village—the CPA project is far, far more vital than replacing the fire truck they previously insisted would completely collapse as flames were shooting out of our windows and doors. In the Dems budget, the replacement has been deferred yet another year, to F.Y. 2019-2020. And the cost has ballooned to $875K. An additional $1.5 million will be borrowed to be ultimately squandered on Croton Point Avenue.
There are only two possible explanations for this. Either Mr. Pugh, Ms. Horowitz, and Ms. Attias knew that the existing fire engine, while old, was still serviceable and would clearly be reliable for another few years, in which case they were totally disingenuous, and, as is the Dems way, were willing to say anything to get elected. Or, the truck has actually reached the end of its useful life and is no longer reliable, and we really are all in jeopardy, but they just don’t care about that.
Those borrowings next year will blast right through the debt guidelines recommended by the Financial Sustainability Committee and adopted by the prior Croton United board. Further, the FSC, having identified serious financial problems looming in the future, recommended last fall that all future budgets include 5-year forecasts of revenues, expenditures, debt service, and capital expenditures, so that these problems can be identified early and addressed before they do real damage to the village’s fiscal health. However, the Dems’ budget addresses only a single year, except for the capital projection that, as has been the practice for decades, extends for several years into the future.
It must be that, in addition to knowing what’s best for everyone else, the Board also believes that it is far better qualified than the financial professionals who make up the FSC to ensure Croton’s fiscal health. Although, to my knowledge, not one of them has any expertise whatsoever in finance.
This financial wisdom extends to the $44K they propose to spend on cosmetic repairs to the Gouveia house, when, according to the Dems’ financial analysis used to justify the acceptance of the Gouveia property, the total cost of renovation and bringing the house up to ADA standards was just $110K. That’s a lotta work to be done with the remaining $65K. But they obviously must know something that escapes the rest of us.
I don’t pretend to be a fiscal expert. But I do know enough to follow the advice of those who are, whether in my business or personal life. Concern that the Board has no use for the FSC and just wants it to go away, continues to grow. Then they can merrily spend unlimited sums of taxpayers’ money on all of their pet projects without fear of contradiction.
Unless and until, someone finally stands up and says “ENOUGH!”
Joel E. Gingold
- For more on the Croton Point Avenue project see here.