By CHRIS EBERHART
Eastchester Town Supervisor Anthony Colavita will headline the town’s Republican slate this November, which includes all incumbents.
Town Council members Joe Dooley, Glenn Bellitto and Theresa Nicholson, are all seeking re-election.
For Colavita, 53, this year’s election will be a run at his seventh, two-year term as town supervisor. In 2013, he defeated former Eastchester Police Officer Michael Denning, the first time Colavita was opposed for the supervisor’s seat since taking over the position in 2004. Councilmen Dooley and Bellitto are running for their second, four-year terms and Councilwoman Nicholson will be running in a special election to fill out the remainder of the unexpired term of former Councilman Fred Salanitro, who vacated his seat for a judgeship following Town Judge Domenic Porco’s resignation last October. Salanitro’s council term doesn’t expire until the end of 2018.
For all four council members, taxes remain the top priority along with the continued revitalization of Lake Isle as a profit-generating entity and beautification of the town, specifically the town’s ball fields.
“I don’t think things have changed, taxes are the big issue,” Dooley, 57, said. “And I want to continue to do my share in keeping costs under control. That’s important to me. That’s why I got into this thing.”
Bellitto, 57, said keeping costs down is important for both keeping residents and attracting new residents to the town, and Eastchester has done just that in remaining under the state-mandated tax levy cap since it was first implemented in 2011.
Colavita said the town has been able to remain under the cap through privatization of areas such as the Lake Isle Golf Course maintenance and consolidation of positions. Most recently, the 2014 budget included the consolidation of the superintendent of parks, buildings and grounds, who accepted a retirement package, and the superintendent of recreations, which Colavita said saved the town $75,000 in salary costs and another $40,000 in benefits.
“I have a proven record of accomplishment, particularly in cost-savings and consolation,” Colavita said. “I think I’ve done a good job of keeping taxes low while preserving the services the town has come to expect.”
The town scored highly on the Office of the New York State Comptroller’s fiscal stress monitoring system, which reviews all financial information of municipalities to identify local governments and school districts that are in fiscal stress. The lower the score, the less likely there is fiscal stress. Eastchester had a score of 9.6 percent in 2013, the most recent number, which was among the lowest in the state.
Nicholson, 52, said she wants to encourage more volunteerism in the town as a cost-saving method, using the landscaping work around the library that she and other town volunteers did as an example.
Nicholson, who has been on the Town Council for about six months, wasn’t involved in the creation of the 2015 Eastchester budget, but she said she’s looking forward to using her professional experience in finance and accounting to comb through the budget and trim areas.
“We definitely want to keep our town running smoothly and affordable,” Nicholson said. “The goal is always to keep the taxes down and provide the best quality of services. When we go through the budget process this year, it will give me a better chance to find opportunities where we can save.”
Colavita and Dooley touted the town’s beautification efforts and the progress made at Lake Isle—with the indoor tennis bubble and hiring a new caterer, who renovated the catering hall.
As part of the 2014 capital budget, the town set aside $140,000 to fund refurbishment and drainage-installation projects at the Chester Heights and Parkway Oval fields. In the 2015 capital budget, there’s another $30,000 to install handicap-accessible bleachers at Parkway Oval. The next project, Colavita said, will be focused on Leewood Park.
Dooley said the town will also turn its attention to the restoration of the vacant property next to the Marble Schoolhouse. The property previously thought to be owned by the state, but Dooley, who spearheaded the town’s 350th anniversary activities last year, discovered through land records the property was actually owned by the town. Included in the 2015 capital budget was $15,000 to hire an architect and an engineer to see what Eastchester can do with that property, which is located at the intersection of New Rochelle and California roads.
Collectively, the goal for the council members, if re-elected, is to continue to return Lake Isle back to its glory days from 2006 to 2008, when it was generating more than $4 million in revenue for the town. The next project, Colavita said, would be the construction of an indoor swimming pool at Lake Isle, which he said the town is already looking into.
Bellitto, who is heavily involved with the Eastchester library and has served as the council liaison to the Eastchester Environmental Committee, touted the upgrades at the library. The town board committed more than $100,000 over the past two years’ capital budgets to fix the leaking roof in the library, which hasn’t been replaced since the 1960s, and another $35,000 to replace the overhead lights with LED lighting.
“As the board liaison to the Eastchester Environmental Committee, I have encouraged our use of LED lighting on town streets,” Bellitto said. “This lighting will cut the cost of electricity because of its efficiency…and the board now appropriates funds yearly for this purpose.”
Elected members of the Town Council take home $15,831 a year stipends, while the town supervisor position makes an annual salary of $97,717.
As of press time, there has been no indication whether the town’s Democratic Party will field any candidates for this year’s elections.