Letter: Appoint unincorporated area resident to Town Council

To the Editor,

The vacancy on the Mamaroneck Town Council has occurred because of the resignation of longtime unincorporated area advocate Councilwoman Phyllis Wittner.

At present, the board is comprised of two Village of Larchmont residents, Supervisor Nancy Seligson and Councilwoman Jaine Elkind Eney.The remaining two councilpersons are residents of the unincorporated Town of Mamaroneck, Ernest Odierna and Abby Katz. All of these officials have been duly elected in town-wide elections.

If the current board appoints a person living in either the villages of Mamaroneck or Larchmont to fill Councilwoman Wittner’s seat, it will create a situation in which residents of the unincorporated town will have no majority representation on the Town Council. This would be most unwise as village residents’ taxes paid to the town are only a tiny portion of their tax bill.

The fundamental connection between taxes and those who levy them is a bedrock principle of government that should not be eroded.

The two remaining unincorporated town councilpersons would be in the minority when voting on the unincorporated town budget, which means, in effect, that unincorporated residents would be subject to a form of taxation without representation. This situation would be extremely unwise.

Moreover, Supervisor Seligson, Councilwoman Eney and other village residents pay a very small amount of their property taxes to the town. The overwhelming majority of their municipal taxes go to the village in which they live. They do not pay unincorporated area taxes, but they vote to impose these taxes.

Each village has its own government, in which, its governments are elected by village residents only.

It’s therefore very important that the all-Democrat Town Council appoint a new councilperson who resides in the unincorporated area of the Town of Mamaroneck. This person would be knowledgeable on a day-to-day basis of the operations, services and needs of town government. He or she should be a recipient of Town of Mamaroneck municipal services and would be in contact on a daily basis with neighbors and their concerns. This person would be voting on unincorporated town matters, which directly affect him or her, and his or her neighbors, as well as his or her pocketbook as a consumer of Town of Mamaroneck services such as fire, police, planning, zoning, building inspection, highway, sewer, street cleaning, roads and sewer maintenance.

There have been assertions that the current town board cannot find any qualified person from the unincorporated area who will agree to be appointed to the vacancy. This seems highly unlikely. There are scores of people who belong to the Democratic Party who live in the unincorporated area who currently serve, or have served, very ably on town boards and commissions. To the best of our knowledge, not all of them have been contacted to serve, not to mention the probability that able candidates would come forward to be interviewed if an announcement were made by the town board and resumes were publicly solicited.

Certainly these efforts should be undertaken before any appointment is made by the town board to fill the vacancy. This is essential in the interests of open, transparent and good government, which has been a hallmark of town government for years.

 

Elaine M. Price,

Former Town of Mamaroneck supervisor

Valerie Moore O’Keeffe,

Former Town of Mamaroneck supervisor