Eastchester town supervisor candidates: Anthony Colavita

Anthony Colavita

Photo/Liz Button

Photo/Liz Button

Age: 51

Status: Incumbent

Political Affiliation: Republican nominee

Party Endorsements: Conservative and Independence

Family: Wife and four children: Matthew, 22, Christopher, 20, Caroline, 16, Olivia-Grace, 12

Community Involvement: Eastchester town supervisor

What’s one thing the average voter doesn’t know about you?

“I played college football at Colgate.”

Q: Bronxville claims that the Parkway Bridge is Eastchester’s responsibility based on history and evidence that Bronxville Mayor Mary Marvin has sited in her columns. Why do you think the town isn’t responsible for the bridge?

A: First, the Department of Transportation has, in all of their records, Bronxville named as the responsible party for maintenance. And it is likely that, 60 years ago, the village signed-off on the plans agreeing to maintain the bridge. The DOT has written to the village and said “you’re the party responsible.” So they would like the town to step up. So what I did was the following: I reached out to the County of Westchester and said the bridge is over the Bronx River, which the county owns, therefore they should have some responsibility. They agreed to pick up a quarter of the expense. I reached out to Mike Spano, the mayor of Yonkers, who agreed to pick up a quarter of the expense. That leaves the village and the town. I reached out to Mary Marvin. The two of us spoke at length about it. We’re working in concert and we’ll make up the other two quarters. So exercising a little bit of initiative and working in the flavor of cooperation in what we envision as a four-way contribution to the bridge to open it up again.

Q:With multiple senior housing projects in the works, how is Eastchester handling the HUD settlement?

A: I have a big issue with the HUD settlement. To begin with, and most importantly, the Town of Eastchester was not a named party to the litigation. Secondly, there was no notice of this litigation. Thirdly, the State of New York Constitution and the laws of the State of New York provide for municipal home rule, which means the citizens of Eastchester and the town board, as their representatives, have the absolute right to draft zoning regulations for the orderly growth of the town to protect its commercial tax base and its residential tax base and to deal with stormwater management, sanitary sewer management, open space, massing, spacing, transportation, etc…I said at the debate, “Over my dead body will I permit any federal government, even through the County of Westchester, to force the Town of Eastchester to accept the zoning code that is not the product of our town board and our town residents.”

Q: Tuckahoe’s police is merging with county police for the midnight tour. Is Eastchester planning to do anything similar?

A: No. The Tuckahoe Police Department is down a couple of men. I think that condition will only be temporary. The Eastchester Police Department has remained fully staffed. The town board is completely committed to keeping the staff of the Eastchester Police Department full. And I don’t envision us taking that step.

Q: If re-elected, what would your three main priorities be?

A: To continue to cut spending is the most important priority we have. I want to make a joke: spending, spending and spending. Because that really is the top priority. The goal that we have is to preserve the character of the Town of Eastchester and to also make sure the town is affordable to young families and seniors and anyone that needs to survive in this terrible economy we’re in. The second priority would be to work at Lake Isle. There’s a lot going on at Lake Isle. We have a brand new caterer’s contract that we are about to launch at the beginning of the year. We’ve taken bids from several people that are looking to becoming caterers. We’re also looking to start the process of creating an indoor pool at Lake Isle, too, which is nice. We’ve already put in the tennis bubble. That’s a $6 million facility at no cost to the taxpayer. We’re making, at minimum $200,000 a year in additional revenue that we would never have made because those courts lay fallow all year long. They also put in lights in those courts, which is terrific. So we have the new caterer, the tennis courts and we’re looking to get year-round swimming. And what I envision is an Eastchester Eagles swim program similar to that of the Badgers or Middies. They have the high school-level swimming programs for these kids, and they get huge scholarships. Thirdly, we have to continue our beautification efforts in the town. We have done significant park renovations, particularity Scout Field, Cooper Field, Handl Field. There are a lot of ballfields that need to be completed and updated. We’re also working with the school district, whose turf field is out of commission. And that one little pebble in the pond is having humongous repercussions on the rest of the sports teams that need field space.

Q: How would you keep taxes as low as possible while still preserving the quality of life that residents are used to?

A: We’ve been very successful at preserving the quality of life and maintaining the services in Eastchester. Here’s what we’ve done to reduce taxes. One, I haven’t taken a raise in 10 years. I don’t use the town gas pumps. I don’t have a town car. I don’t have a town credit card. I’m the only person in town government that hasn’t had a raise for more than a decade, and that saved the taxpayers a minimum of $150,000 a year. Number two, CSEA hasn’t had a raise in three years. The department heads haven’t had a raise in four years. We went to bid on our insurance, saved $25,000 a year. We went and did a utility audit, saved $100,000 a year. I have 50 fewer full-time employees from when I got started, and, when your work force is only 200, to lose a quarter of that is a lot of people. That means the remaining three quarters of the work staff is doing 100 percent of the work with no raises. Also, we’ve privatized a lot of functions of town government. We privatized golf course maintenance, saved $300,000 in year one. We privatized ballfield maintenance, saved us $85,000 a year. We consolidated the position of superintendent of highways with the position of general foreman, saved us $5,000 a year. We consolidated the position of court clerk with the receiver of taxes, saving $55,000 a year. We moved all of our employees except for police into a different healthcare program, which gave them better services, but netted a savings of a quarter million dollars. These are examples of what we’ve done to save tax dollars.

Q:What is the biggest issue facing the town?

A: Again, it’s just taxes. It’s keeping the Town of Eastchester affordable. I say this with two large caveats. This is the worst economy in the history of this nation since the Great Depression. And secondly, we are doing all of this and coming under that tax cap—we have never gone past that tax levy cap—with unfunded mandates crushing the town. We have to pay $3.1 million to the State of New York retirement system, that is up 3,000 percent from when I first became supervisor. We wrote a check for $101,000. Now it’s $3.1 million. We’re doing all this and we’re cutting all these taxes and keeping spending in check even with these unfunded mandates from the State of New York.

Q: Is government looking into any safety changes within the DPW following the death of Mr. Farella?

A: The death of Mr. Farella, while tragic, was purely an accident. All the experts that we’ve been advised by said it was just a pure accident. We have asked [Civil Service Employees Union] to come in and to provide us with whatever training they have available for a very basic function. It’s important to note, getting up and down the truck is not terribly complicated, but whatever techniques they have we do embrace, and we’ve asked them to come down and train our guys.

Q: What would you say to the critics that say there isn’t any discourse within the town board because of the presence of just one political party?

A: People often try to use bipartisanism as a means to get elected. And I’ve always worked with all of my fellow elected officials in and out of the town, whether they’d be liberals, Democrats, Republicans or conservatives or non-affiliates. Mayor Marvin is not registered with any party. There are members of the Tuckahoe board that are from the Democratic Party. All of that is irrelevant to me. I also want to point out, in recent years, when there was a member of the other party on the town board, she voted in every single vote with the majority Republican Town Council. I voted against the majority of the town board on a couple of occasions. The point is even when there was bipartisan boards, it didn’t really matter because what we were doing is the right thing for Eastchester. And when you’re doing the right thing for Eastchester, it’s an easy vote.

-Reporting by Chris Eberhart