Soaring pension costs, potential cuts in state aid, possible payments for the assessor and increased parking permit rates were among the money issues that drew attention at the September 14 Larchmont Village Board meeting. Westchester County Legislator Judy Myers aired details of the proposed settlement agreement between the County and federal government over affordable housing. (See Larchmont Learns of County Affordable Housing Suit Settlement.)
Mayor Liz Feld announced that pension contributions for most employees will go from 7.4% of salary in 2010 to 11.9% in 2011. Contributions for police and fire personnel will go from 15.1% in 2010 to 18.2% in 2011. A plan to allow local governments to bond the increase failed to pass the New York Senate during the leadership chaos earlier this year. (See: Oppenheimer Calls for BiPartisan Control of Senate to End Logjam)
Last year the Village had a payroll of $6.9 million and paid $900,000 for pension contributions. “We can’t hire new people when saddled with these kind of costs,” said Mayor Feld.
The increases are mandated because of a drop in the pension fund caused by the global financial downturn. Even greater increases are projected for future years.
Trustee Ann McAndrews said, “This system has to be reworked.” Trustee Josh Mandel suggested that “we consider switching from a defined benefit to a defined contribution pension plan.” Both trustees said the actuarial tables underlying the pension plans require re-examination. The board made clear, however, that pensions of all current employees are protected.
Mayor Feld said she had learned from New York State Assemblyman George Latimer that Governor David Paterson may propose cuts in aid to local municipalities as a way to close a gaping hole in the State budget. To Larchmont, the damage could be $78,000.
Mr. Latimer, who later appeared at the meeting, stressed the importance of contacting the governor and the legislature urging them not to make these cuts in the middle of the year when budgets have already been set. He also advocated writing all State senators to ask them to approve the bonding authority to help pay for increased pension costs.
Larchmont’s board is balking at a request by the Town of Mamaroneck to pay an extra sum to cover costs of continuing to maintain a Larchmont Village assessment roll. An alternative is for Larchmont to drop its own roll and adopt the Town’s. The two are largely the same, but extra work is required to keep both.
“We want to maintain our cooperative relationship with the Town,” asserted Trustee Josh Mandel. “We already pay for the assessor’s services in our taxes. Are we being charged for something in the future that will be different or for what they’ve always done?”
“Please give us a clearer understanding of just why this additional money is needed and how it will be spent,” he asked. “If it’s fair and deserved we’ll pay it.”
Asked later for response, Mamaroneck Town Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe said, “We will share whatever information they want, in a collegial fashion – but they are not going to run the assessor’s office. If they would prefer, they can hire their own assessor and maintain their own roll.” The costs of the extra roll are being subsidized by taxpayers in Mamaroneck Town and Mamaroneck Village, she said.
The board approved new parking permit rates for 2010 that are $15 to $50 more than last year for most permits. There is a new discount option for a combined day and night permit. “Before setting our new rates, we looked at those in other comparable communities to make sure we were not out of line,” explained Deputy Mayor Marlene Kolbert
|Lot # 1 (Railroad)||Day||Annual: $600 (up from $550)
Semi-Annual $325 (up from $300)
|Lot # 1 (Railroad)||
|Night||Annual: $200 (up from $175)
Semi-Annual $115 (up from $100)
|Lot # 1 (Railroad)||Day+Night||$750 – new discount option
|Lot #3 Railroad Meters||Larchmont residents||$50; $4 per day (no change)|
|Mam’k Town||$150 (up from $100); $4 per day|
|Out of Town||$525 (up from $500); $4 per day|
|Lots #4,5, 6, 8, Palmer
||Day||Annual: $375 (up from 330
Semi-annual $200 (up from 180
|Night||Annual: $200 (up from $175)
Semi-annual:$115 (up from $100)
|Day+Night||$525 – new discount option|
Age 65 (raised from 60)
|Scooter & Bikes||
Permits go on sale November 9 for Village residents and November 12 for residents of Mamaroneck Town and other communities. Town of Mamaroneck residents can buy two permits per household until December 18. The clerk will sell 100 permits to out-of-town residents, two per household, until the permits run out or until December 18, whichever comes first. Then the board will assess and reevaluate.
Seniors must be 65, up from 60, to qualify for free night parking. A new $25 administrative charge will apply to both seniors and first responders, who also get free night parking. The charge is waived for those purchasing an annual daytime permit as well.
In the next six months, the pay machines at Lot #3 will be replaced. Village Clerk Eileen Finn will stop selling debit cards on September 30. She asked residents to please use up the balance on their cards because there will be no refunds. Everyone will have to use cash until the new machines are installed.
Recently there have been more empty slots at the station. Trustee Richard Ward said he “counted 108 bikes there at 5:30 Monday evening.”
Also At the Board:
Lorenzen Grant: The board approved an application for $600,000 from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for improvements to Lorenzen Park. (See: Lorenzen Field Slated for Makeover.)
New Truck: Treasurer Denis Brucciani requested $28,500 to purchase a 2010 Ford pick-up with a plow for the Public Works Department and $377,841 for capital funds. At the next meeting he will present a quarterly report on the budget.
Con-Ed Construction: Mayor Feld apologized for inconveniences caused by Con Ed work in the Village. She explained, Con Ed pays for any overtime work required by the police. Also, Con-Ed has been asked to take care of repaving wherever sidewalks were torn up.
New Street Signs Coming: Question: What has 325 blades that need to be changed by 2012? Answer: The Village of Larchmont. The blades, also known as a street signs, must all be changed to conform to new federal standards. Samples will be put up to see if they meet the standards. Look out for them in the coming months.
On the Calendar:
- Autumn Community Day is Saturday, September 26 on Larchmont Avenue: Big Truck Day from 11 – 1:00; Public Safety Day and Larchmont Arts Festival from noon to 3.
- Regular Flu Shots on October 28 at the Senior Center. Call 834-8840 for a reservation.
- Tour d’Larchmont bicycle ride on October 11 begins at 12:30 in Flint Park
- Dedication of the Constitution Park gazebo is on October 18 at 1:00.
- The Ragamuffin Parade is set for October 24.