Column: City Council updates

Mayor-Doug-FrenchFormer Rye Golf Club manager arraigned on felony larceny charges
I want to thank the Westchester District Attorney’s office for getting us to this day, it was a long time coming. Scott Yandrasevich was Rye’s Bernie Madoff and has allegedly perpetrated a crime against Rye going all the way back to 2008. Over four and a half years, he is charged with fabricating wages to contracted workers in the amount of $271,000. Many people trusted Scott over the years, ranging from different club commission members, council members, mayors, comptrollers, managers and staff. I am glad he has finally been charged and is facing his crimes. The city will pursue through our insurance carrier in getting the stolen funds back.

 

Proposed 2014 budget
The city will be holding a public hearing on the budget on Dec. 4 and 18, with final adoption on Dec. 18. The Citizens Finance Committee will issue their comments during the public hearing. The city’s sound fiscal management and disciplined approach for the last five years has again produced another solid budget. The proposed increase in the property tax rate is 2.52 percent, or an annual increase of $92 per average household. Like previous budgets, this one keeps taxes under the tax cap, enhances current levels of service, and retains a very healthy fund balance. This budget also puts forward a substantial investment in infrastructure of $2.2 million to include: Blind Brook wall study, nature center bridge/Boston Post Road realignment, Disbrow Park master plan, sidewalks, sewers, record retention/digital document conversion, the city master plan, street resurfacing, train station parking lot improvements and police/courthouse improvements.

 

Senior affordable housing at Rye Manor extended
The city has entered into a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with Rye Manor HDFC, an entity created for the sole purpose for the renovation and preservation of Rye Manor as an affordable housing development. The project will be financed through the issuance of tax-exempt bonds to be issued by Westchester County Industrial Development Agency and an allocation of federal low-income tax credits from the New York State Housing Finance Agency. HUD will issue a new 20-year HAP for the project, which will provide additional financial security for the tenants, and a new HUD use agreement that will ensure the property will remain affordable for another 30 years. The agreement is for a $90,000 first-year payment that would increase at 2.5 percent per year for the term of the 32-year PILOT. There is also a one-time municipal impact fee payment of $150,000 to the city for roadway and sidewalk improvements.

 

Calling all volunteers for city board vacancies
Now is the time of year when many terms on the city’s boards and commissions are set to expire. The city has many boards and commissions that serve our city government, from finance to recreation to land-use and more. We encourage new volunteers and a natural turnover on boards after three terms. A listing of all boards and commissions is listed on the City of Rye website. In addition, there are two openings on the City Council. Please forward your resume to the incoming council if interested in serving.

 

Rye Free Reading Room
As part of the city budget discussions for 2014, I am pleased to report that city funding levels to the library have been restored to pre-recession levels. A close collaboration and hard work between the city and the Rye Free Reading Room the last few years has made the relationship as strong as it has ever been. A sustainable labor agreement, bond funds for safety and flood improvements to the historic building—and now the additional funding for the library—will help it in meeting its new strategic vision with the community.

 

Rye Town Park audited results show a surplus
A few years ago, Rye Town Park had an annual operating deficit of $400,000. Through a series of operational improvements, new financial reporting for greater oversight and management decision-making, and a new pricing structure, the 2012 audited results post a small surplus for the park; quite a turnaround.

 

Sustainable Playland community forum on Dec. 11
The Sustainable Playland, Inc. improvement plan is before the county Board of Legislators for review and approval. A copy is posted on the City of Rye website. A community forum will be held at the Rye Free Reading Room on the evening of Dec. 11. The city will continue to represent its rights and concerns with respect to the planning process. The plan seeks to balance the amusement park and seasonal uses with new amenities, venues and programs. Improvements can begin in 2014 with significant upgrades to the Amusement Zone and Kiddyland specifically.

For more information on these matters, visit the City of Rye website at www.ryeny.gov or contact me, Mayor Douglas French, mayor@ryeny.gov