Author Archives: Art

Avery LaBarbera looks for an open teammate against Rye on Feb. 1. LaBarbera and the Huskies nabbed the fifth-seed in Class A.

Basketball eyes playoffs

Harrison’s girls and boys basketball teams are both preparing for their sectional openers this week, as they both were rewarded for their stellar regular seasons with first-round home games on Feb. 12. Though neither team would know their first-round opponent as of press time, big things are expected from both squads this year.

Avery LaBarbera looks for an open teammate against Rye on Feb. 1. LaBarbera and the Huskies nabbed the fifth-seed in Class A.

Avery LaBarbera looks for an open teammate against Rye on Feb. 1. LaBarbera and the Huskies nabbed the fifth-seed in Class A.

At 12-6 on the year, the girls’ squad earned a fifth-seed and will take on the winner of the Lakeland-Panas outbracket game, while the boys, who finished 13-5, held onto the fourth seed in Class A with a win in their regular season finale against Fox Lane.

“We had been following the brackets online,” boys’ coach Gary Chiarella said. “So we knew heading into that last game that we were going to either be the four or five seed.”

Both the boys’ and girls’ teams were tested in the final days of the regular season campaign, with the girls tangling with teams like Tappan Zee, Rye and Fox Lane, while the boys took down the fourth-seeded Class AA team on Feb. 7. According to Chiarella, the 65-59 win over the Foxes has his team riding high into the first-round game, where they will either see John Jay or rival Rye.

“I’m very happy with how we’ve played,” he said. “I think that the game against Fox Lane was the best we’ve played all year.”

Zach Evans sets up the Harrison offense during an early-season game against Croton-Harmon. The Huskies enter this week’s sectional playoffs as the No. 4 seed in Class A. Photos/Mike Smith

Zach Evans sets up the Harrison offense during an early-season game against Croton-Harmon. The Huskies enter this week’s sectional playoffs as the No. 4 seed in Class A. Photos/Mike Smith

The girls will play at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, after press time, while the boys’ game will follow as the nightcap. After a Monday, which saw both teams off due to weather, the two squads were back in the gym on Tuesday getting ready for the playoff push.

“We’ve just been working on conditioning and making sure we’re prepared for late-game situations,” Chiarella said. “You get into those
situations, things happen fast, so we want to make
sure we know what we’re going to do.”

-Reporting by Mike Smith

Town adopts tight 2015 budget

The town adopted its 2015 budget one week earlier than expected thanks to few adjustments to the preliminary draft and little public concern from the community. File photo

The town adopted its 2015 budget one week earlier than expected thanks to few adjustments to the preliminary draft and little public concern from the community. File photo

By Alina Suriel
The 2015 budget was adopted by a unanimous vote on Dec. 4 with not even a single question from the town board or members of the public in attendance.

“The board felt that all the work was done,” said Town Comptroller Maureen Mackenzie. “This was what they wanted and they felt comfortable passing this as the budget.”

The total spending listed in the budget was raised to $45.4 million, an increase of $111,294 over the tentative budget, bringing the total budget-to-budget spending up 1.93 percent from this year’s budget.

The tax rate was raised slightly to 1.986 in the adopted version of the budget, which puts the dollar increase at $6.49 for every $1,000 of assessed property. In the previous iteration of the budget, the tax rate increase was listed at 1.946 percent, or $6.36 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

The increase in the tax rate can be explained by a drop in the assessment roll, or the overall property tax money collected by the town assessor’s office. Property owners claiming their property was overassessed, and therefore overcharged with regard to taxes, resulted in the town issuing tax refunds which cost a collective $50,000 from the assessment role.

The drop in Harrison’s assessment role also resulted in the town being forced to make up part of the difference with a slight increase in the tax levy. The tax levy rate, originally proposed as a mere .000599 increase over the 2014 budget, had already been under the 1.56 percent state-mandated property tax levy cap in the previous draft of the budget, having only increased .000599 percent from 2014. The new number raises the levy increase to .062 percent, or $27,434, bringing the overall tax levy amount to $44.3 million

Councilman Joe Canella, a Republican, said the board was able to pass the budget so quickly because there were no criticisms to consider, and that this is due to what he perceives to be satisfaction on the part of the constituents.

“It was pretty much viewed as a non-event and didn’t generate a lot of interest because the increase was low,” Canella said. “When you wind up with a budget with a low [tax] rate, people are going to be pleased.”

Canella also said another aspect which enabled the budget to be adopted so quickly was there was less input this year from organizations looking for more financial support from the board, such as the library. Canella said that representatives of the Harrison library usually offer more input on their budget, but that he expects they’re too busy dealing with ongoing renovations to its facility.

Prior to its adoption, there were 21 items that were altered from the preliminary budget.

Many of the changes were minimal, with most having items concerning costs of less than $7,000.

The biggest increase was seen in the amount allocated for police overtime, which saw that budget increased by $100,000 to $700,000 in total. This comes after a recent request from police Chief Anthony Marraccini that more overtime was needed to cover short staffing and extra work put in by detectives due to a higher volume of intensive investigations.

Marraccini told the Review that while the extra funds are helpful, it is not nearly enough as overtime in his department generally exceeds $1 million every year. He blames the financial shortcoming on the difficulties officials face in balancing municipal needs with state-mandated compliance with the tax levy cap.

“I think that the board is doing the best that they can,” Marraccini said, “given the restrictions that the state has put on them with the tax cap, and I think that they were headed in the right direction.

“It’s difficult, especially when dealing with emergency services, that an outside body puts a restriction like a tax cap to allot to emergency services. I think it puts this community at a disadvantage concerning
public safety.”

Marraccini said when the tax cap was first instituted by the state in 2011 the police
department was so short staff-ed that they had only 50 officers on the force, and because of those budget restrictions that it has taken a long while to get the ranks back up to the current headcount of 63.



Column: I’m probably about halfway there now

Jason-Column2Last week, I told you I should write a whole column just about aging one of these weeks. That week is this week.

As I believe I’ve bemoaned in this space before, I’m going to turn 40 later this year. That means, if I’m lucky, my life is probably about half over or, if I keep eating the odd Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese from the frozen section as I did last night, I’m more than halfway on my way off this mortal coil as I type these words to you.

I’ve always hated the prospect of turning 40. It just seems like an age with no discernable traits other than to remind the bearer his or her life is cresting and it’s all downhill from here.

Other than that, 40 has no feel.

Twenty has a feel; it’s when you think you’ve become an adult and the whole world is out there, ready to lay down for you.

Thirty has a feel. If you’re smart, it’s when you actually become an adult and realize the world isn’t here for you, neither are you here for it and it’s up to you to find a way to claw out a niche for yourself somewhere.

I wasn’t smart; that didn’t happen for me until I was 37.

I even think 50 will have a positive feel. I’ve always seen 50 as a strong, solid number. It’s a round number, it’s our second-highest denomination of common currency; it’s an age I’ve thought would feel quite virile, for whatever reason.

Of course, I have trouble staying up past 11 without falling asleep on the couch as it is, so I’m not sure how virile my version of 50 is going to be.

I think maybe, by then, I’ll have found the time to get pretty fit again. As I mentioned here last week during our discussion about Captain Kirk, I’ve always loved the idea of the aging, but still potent and capable, action hero.

Remember, I also got hooked on Mack Bolan pulp novels recently. He’d be about 65 if he aged as the series has progressed.

And I always loved Jack LaLanne. So much so, I based a character in a fantasy/adventure novel I wrote before we met on him.

I even like the Expendables movies, partly for this reason.

By the way, I like “The Expendables.” There, I said it.

Anyway, yeah; 40. True middle age. I don’t feel ready for it and I don’t really want it to happen.

My wife turned 40 earlier this year, so those waters have been tested. She says it feels no different, but she also runs marathons. What the hell does she know? Looks like I’m going to have to see this one for myself.

Oh, I’m also the old guy in the office. Have I mentioned that? I remember Betamax and Atari computers. Not video game consoles; Atari computers. I remember TVs that sat on the floor as furniture, and I went to Adventurers at Cross County in Yonkers. I remember air raid drills in elementary school. I know who Richard Burton was.

For that matter, I know who Richard Barthelmess was, but I guess I’m an unusual case.

Point is, few, if anyone else, around me at your newspaper, at least on the editorial side of things, know or did any of those things above, let alone all of them. There’s nothing worse sometimes than being surrounded by a bunch of 20 somethings to whom you may as well be a visitor from another planet.

A cold, long-dead planet.

Being the old guy has its advantages though. I walked in the door of your newspaper knowing a thing or three about how the world works and how the people in it tend to be. That’s a definite advantage when you’re a reporter, especially one who’s just starting out.

Plus, I get to be a bit of a sage pretty regularly. That’s always fun.

Saying that, I’ll always be grateful to a former reporter here who was 43 when I walked into the newsroom at 37. That helped.

I guess I’m going to just have to wait and see if 40 has a better feel than I think it’s going to. I sort of wish I could take the few drops of youth I feel I have left and skip ahead to 50 and apply them there, but that’s probably not a reasonable way to feel, is it?

It’s also impossible, so what are these last few sentences already?

Somewhere at some point, someone said life begins at 40. I sure as hell hope that’s true, because 37 to 39 has been pretty good, but I also think it’d be quite a shame if everything to this point was preamble and I’m only going get to enjoy my actual life for 40 or so years.

Or less, if the Stouffer’s mac and cheese has its way.