By LIZ BUTTON
Village treasurer Robert J. Fels is retiring from his position, one he has held for the past 23 years, on April 21, leaving the village in its best financial shape in recent history, according to Bronxville Mayor Mary Marvin.
After Fels, 60, announced his plans for retirement, Marvin, a Republican, praised the village treasurer for his service in her Dec.19, 2013, column for the Eastchester Review, which featured a review of the 2013-2014 fiscal year’s budget.
“Bob has been a steady hand and a fiscal watchdog and a major reason for our sound financial management. We wish him the best in life’s next chapter,” Marvin said at the time.
The village administration, which began the search for Fels’ replacement in November, has been conducting two executive searches simultaneously. Village Administrator Harold Porr, who retired on March 27 after 10 years on the job, announced he was leaving around the same time Fels did.
Fels said the last fiscal year, ending on May 31, 2013, closed with a $647,000 surplus on a budget of $13.8 million, bringing the village’s fund balance to $3.2 million.
“One of my prouder moments in my tenure as treasurer is the fact that the village has kept up a strong surplus and has situated itself well for several years more,” Fels said.
Fels, who said the village is just finishing drafting the 2014-15 fiscal year budget, said he is proud of
Bronxville’s triple A bond rating, which it has maintained for the last several years. He said this achievement is also a credit to Marvin, Porr and the Board of Trustees, who all work together to put these yearly spending plans
Bronxville continues to meet the required benchmarks credit rating agencies require, which has paved the way for financing multiple years of capital projects through bond issues like the renovation of Village Hall seven years ago.
Bronxville’s longtime treasurer said once he leaves, he is going to relax and enjoy his free time for about two months and then decide what he wants to do next in life.
“The timing is right. I have enough years in the retirement system and I’m at a good point to leave,” Fels said.
After graduating from Iona College, Fels, who lives in Mount Vernon, began his career in municipal money management at the New York State comptroller’s office in August 1976. In June 1980, he left the job to go work in the municipal finance office of Westchester County and later transferred to the Westchester Finance Department as an internal auditor.
In January 1981, he left the county offices to work as the Town of Greenburgh’s deputy comptroller until February of 1983, when he took a position with Bennett-Kielson CPA, an accounting firm specializing in municipal audits. He remained there for seven years until he joined the village staff in Bronxville in October 1990.
Fels has been married to his wife Elizabeth for the past 35 years and has one son, Michael.
Since he began the job more than 20 years ago, Fels said he has seen many changes in the way village government works.
“The functioning of government has become more computerized and as personnel costs have dropped, unfortunately, the cost of employee benefits has risen,” he said, adding that even though municipalities are now doing more work with fewer employees, increased employee benefit costs have kept the cost of doing business high.
Describing his experience working with his fellow village employees and Bronxville’s elected officials over the past 23 years, Fels was enthusiastic.
“I enjoyed working with a fabulous staff and meeting very interesting people, including all the mayors and trustees that I have had the pleasure of working with all these years,” he said. “It’s been a very