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Bronxville Board of Trustees’ initiatives as a Westchester delegation

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Mar 17, 2022 - 05:56 AM

As many of my colleagues noted at a recent meeting, we have been batting about zero in the past few years, in terms of positive changes in Albany. Our dismal record is not the result of our local elected’s efforts, rather the fact that our Westchester interests are often not aligned and not supported by legislators across the state, most notably the electeds representing the five boroughs.

We continue to ask for Aid to Municipalities that even reaches 10% of the aid given to school districts and we continue to fight to seek an exclusion from the tax cap for municipal expenditures on public infrastructure, an exclusion already granted to schools and used by the state itself. The tax cap as applied to municipalities discourages capital infrastructure investment at a time when such investment is critically needed as many of our communities are 100+ years old with infrastructure reflecting that age.

A positive outcome to these two perennial issues would make a great deal of difference to every community in Westchester, regardless of size, density or affluence.

In addition, the following are items that are new on our Westchester priority list reflecting the times we are living.

As illustration, during the recent police department review initiatives, it was quite evident that municipal police need access to social workers and mental health professionalism on a twenty-four-hour basis.

Our first responders are frequently called to crisis situations, which the Covid epidemic exacerbated, but they have few resources to call upon and little training to address the root problems. We are requesting support from the state to develop shared mental health services including on-call professionals on a 24/7 basis and increased training for first responders.

The impacts of the pandemic on students and at home workers made clear the importance of universal broadband and reliable cell service. A plan to address gaps in broadband cellular coverage and bandwidth is urgently needed for the entire county.

As we know in Bronxville, water and sewer infrastructure is critical to both a community’s economic growth and its quality of life. The State Comptroller highlighted multiple studies estimating a combined multiyear funding deficit of $65 billion for municipal infrastructure. Every Westchester community is desperate for state help on this issue.

The Westchester Municipal Officials Association also supports legislation that would provide a local option to each community to charge tax exempt properties for the cost of services such as police protection, fire protection, street and highway construction, maintenance and lighting, sanitation and water.

Looking beyond our County’s particular needs, Governor Hochul included the following in her budget proposal released last week which impact us as well.

Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging and Paper
The new initiative would require large producers to develop and implement programs to manage their paper and packaging products. The end goal is to analyze the recycling needs in New York and require producers to take responsibility for the recycling and reuse of discarded packaging/paper products from their companies.

Sales Tax on Vacation Rentals
The Executive Budget would require that all vacation rentals be subject to the same sales tax as traditional hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfast . The vacation rental market outlets would be required to collect such sales tax on the rental properties they facilitate. The tax would be levied as of September 2, 2020.

To Go Drinks

The budget would amend the Alcoholic Beverage Control law to allow any retail license that provides liquor or wine sale for inside consumption to also allow products for off-premise consumption. The State Liquor Authority would maintain the ability to adopt rules and regulations related to the sales including quantity, food required at the time of purchase and hours of sale.

Ten Day Voter Registration Deadline
The Governor’s budget proposes to lower the voter registration deadline from the current 25 days to 10 days before the election.

College Campus Polling Locations

In instances where a college or university campus has 300 or more students who are registered to vote, a polling place designated within that election district would be located at the college or at an alternative location approved by the college or university.  This would take effect on January 1, 2024.

I will report periodically on the fate of the above initiatives as the legislative session progresses.

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