Gazette Ceases Publication: Donates Archives to LHS

In 2010, the Larchmont Gazette ceased publication. In 2011 the publishers donated all contents to the Larchmont Historical Society, which will continue to make the Gazette archives available online.

All inquiries should be addressed to the Larchmont Historical Society.

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VOL Tentative Budget Boosts Tax Rate 2.4%

Village of Larchmont’s tentative budget for 2009-2010, unveiled at the board’s March 18 meeting, comes with the smallest tax rate increase in recent years – 2.4%. In other responses to “these trying times,” the board announced expanded parking limits in the business district,  and Mayor Liz Feld decried the lack of civility on local blogs. Trustee Marlene Kolbert raised the possibility of compensation for the mayor and board members, who now serve as volunteers.

Revenue Down, Spending Down

For the 2009-2010 tentative budget, appropriations are down from $15.098M to $15.020M. However, projected revenues are also down around $404K, from $3.632M to $3.228M, “due to the impact of adverse economic conditions,” reported Larchmont’s treasurer, Denis Brucciani. The result is a $324K increase in the tax levy, from $11.167M to $11.491M, and a tax rate increase of 2.4%. That translates into a tax payment of $290.63 per $1000 of assessed valuation, which is an increase of $6.94 per $1000.

“We’ve done a lot of slashing, given the state of the economy,” said Mr. Brucciani.

Spending reductions include:
• $25,000 in Police Department motor equipment
• $180,000 in fringe benefits
• $100,000 for street resurfacing
Projected revenue reductions include
• $127,000 in interest income
• $ 50,000 in permit fees
• $150,000 in mortgage tax
• $ 50,000 in sales tax
Overall, expenses are down from last year. “It’s revenue reductions that are driving the tax increase,” said Trustee Jim Millstein.

Mayor Feld thanked all department heads for cooperating to rein in costs. Notably, under new collective bargaining agreements, members of the fire and police unions will pick up 25% of costs for health insurance, which have been rising dramatically for years.

Because of investment losses in state pension funds, however, pension costs are expected to rise by the end of the year. Trustee Jim Millstein explained that “defined benefit” plans are still the norm in government, and employers – i.e. taxpayers –must pay more to guarantee the promised benefit when investments plummet. The private sector, he said, has mostly moved to “defined contribution” plans, and the employees bear the risk of less retirement income when their 401K investments fall.

The board will hold budget hearings on April 13 and April 27; the final budget must be adopted by May 1.

Village of Larchmont Budget History: 2003 – 2009


Tentative Tax
Rate Increase

Final Tax
Rate Increase

Final (General Fund) Budget Appropriation

Surplus Allocated

Tax Rate per Thousand






































Compensation for Volunteer Board?

Trustee Marlene Kolbert asked the board to consider some sort of compensation for Village of Larchmont’s mayor and trustees, who now serve as volunteers.

Village of Mamaroneck pays its mayor $9,000 plus health benefits and gives trustees $5,000 with health benefits. In Mamaroneck Town, the supervisor receives $37,500 plus health benefits, and trustees get $6,000 with health benefits.

Ms. Kolbert, who said she does not need health benefits herself, suggested allowing others who serve at least one term on the board to buy into Larchmont’s health plan at half the cost. “Counting my six years on the School Board, I’m now entering into my 14th year of public service, and I’m well aware of the costs in both time and money that this commitment requires,” said Ms. Kolbert. Mr. Millstein seemed open to compensating the mayor. Jim Staudt, the Village attorney, will check to see what can be done and how to proceed.

Board vs Bloggers

Local bloggers have become particularly nasty of late without signing their names to their harsh attacks, said Mayor Feld. “Your elected officials are doing the best they can with fewer resources and options,” she asserted. “If you want to help the community in these tough times, don’t hide behind anonymous potshots. Have the guts to put your name on what you write.”

Mr. Millstein added that it would be even better if critics would bring their complaints to board meetings, where different sides of an issue could be aired and errors could be corrected. He admitted that blogs do offer opportunities for sharing a wide range of views, but said, “There is something civilized about a face-to-face meeting, where people live with the consequences of words spoken in the community of others. Anonymous bloggers can hide and not take responsibility for their remarks.”

Mayor Feld suggested that websites require a name before a piece can be posted.

Similar suggestions cropped up recently on at least two local websites that encourage reader comment. Lyndalarch10538, a blog maintained anonymously by a Mamaroneck Town resident, allows and defends unfiltered comments. Recent anonymous criticisms of Mayor Feld prompted Mamaroneck Town Councilman David Fishman to post his own “final comment” on March 23: “This is just gross, hateful and useless banter. I am sorry I ever gave any credibility to this blog by posting with my real name.” Responding to the critics, LyndaLarch noted that anonymous postings are common now. “This is the world, and all governments are going to have to adjust to it,” she said.

Polly Kreisman, editor of The Loop, reacted to a posting by Mayor Feld by clarifying that “theLoop does not consider itself a blog, but an on-line newspaper with many participants representing many voices.” Ms. Kreisman does allow anonymous postings, but she explains elsewhere that she monitors content and blocks foul language and personal attacks. One long thread on February 12 had readers debating the pros and cons of anonymity. “Allowing for anonymous comments brings out the worst of people,” wrote Lori Brandon – under her own name.

But “Cath” replied, “I feel there’s a real need for people to spout off without having to experience blowback in real life. Many opinions would not be heard were people required to give their real names.”

Also At the Board

Incumbents Re-elected Without Opposition: The vote count was 88 for Justice Thea Beaver (center); 84 for Trustee Anne McAndrews (left) and 82 for Trustee Richard Ward.

Incumbents Re-elected Without Opposition: The vote count was 88 for Justice Thea Beaver (center); 84 for Trustee Anne McAndrews (left) and 82 for Trustee Richard Ward.

Tennis Donation: The Millstein Foundation is supporting renovation of Flint Park’s courts. Diane Millstein (the trustee’s mom) launched a successful development career with Pine Ridge, a project approved under Mayor Maurice Noyer (the current mayor’s dad). Work should start May 1 and be finished by July 1.

Streetscape ReDesign: Trustee Anne McAndrews said the board is now working with consultants on plans for renovations along Palmer Avenue, for which Larchmont received a $683K grant. The design is due by June and must get final state approval by November.

Walk-the-Walk: Trustee Richard Ward announced a March 24 workshop to study ways to promote walking and biking in Larchmont’s core. (See: Workshop “Walks the Talk” in Larchmont’s Business District.)

Cert Info? Mr. Ward suggested announcing locations of rental property granted property tax reductions to inform tenants negotiating rental rates.

Photo Shoot: Increased activity in the business district this week was due to the clothing company Aero Postale photographing at the Harbor House restaurant for an advertising campaign. The board authorized permits for the shoot.

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