Supervisor’s Report on Master Plan phone survey, savings in contracts
Saturday, September 13, 2014
by Rob Greenstein
Editor’s Note: In “Read more…” is the full Supervisor’s Report from the Town Board meeting of Wednesday, September 10, on the following topics:
• Master Plan mailing explaining phone survey, a return “How-are-we-doing?” card
• Workers Compensation Renewal, savings of $222,525 for 2014-15
• Garbage Contract, savings of $477,980 per year of seven-year contract
Master Plan Mailing
As you may have heard, we are working with an outside survey research firm to gather input from local residents about what they think is important to address in the master plan. Starting on September 18th, you may be contacted by a representative at PSB Interviewing to participate in the telephone survey. The phone interviews will be conducted during the last two weeks in September and should take you around 20 minutes to complete. This is a great opportunity to share your opinions and we would greatly appreciate your participation. After the interview process concludes and the data is consolidated, we will share the aggregated findings with the public. As an important member of our community, we want to keep you engaged throughout the process.
Send back the return postcard to tell us “How’re we doing?”
When you receive the mailing you will note a return postcard. Please take a moment to “Tell Us How We’re Doing”. We welcome your feedback. Feel free to share any comments, concerns or suggestions with the Town Board.
Workers Compensation Renewal Savings
New Castle is proud to announce substantial savings on their workers compensation premium. The town now pays $222,525.00 less in Workers Compensation premium than it did for the same insurance in 2013-14. This is a 29.00% savings! This is a good deal for the taxpayers of New Castle, and I am very pleased with the savings. We will continue to pursue measures to reduce our costs as we try to increase the services provided to our residents.”
At the last Town Board meeting, I announced a new garbage contract with savings for all services Town wide estimated to be $477,980 per year. Over the course of the seven (7) year contract, we are saving over $3,000,000.00. After this announcement, I received many inquiries, so I wanted to addresses them. First, we did not change companies. We are still using Sani-Pro. Services will not be cut. As far as the annual fee per household, we expect the $485 annual fee to be decreased. That $485 fee has held for at least 4 years. We have been heavily subsidizing it with fund balance to keep it constant. As we start our 2015 budget process we will be calculating the new annual fee per household. Well, how did we achieve such substantial savings? I will read to you a quote from Bart Carey, Assistant to the Commissioner of Public Works, “we did not maximize our savings when we went to once a week – that was a major criticism of the once a week transition. The original shift from twice to once a week garbage collection was in the middle of a negotiated contract. Sani-Pro provided some savings to the town but was actually not required to provide any. The idea of once a week garbage collection was a tremendous cost savings measure. When we finally had the opportunity to bid out once a week collection using Hudson Valley Bid Network, which has given our RFP’s much wider exposure and increased responses from vendors, we were able to realize the results of increased competition. The inclusion of once a week and twice a week collection as options increased the competitive bid results for both of these options.”
Millwood Task Force Name Change
We voted on and passed a resolution to change the title of the Millwood Task Force to “Millwood-West End Advisory Board”. This Advisory Board will protect the interests of the residents on the West End of the Town of New Castle, as well as Millwood.
I knew the democratic establishment was wasting our money. Keep up the great work. I can’t wait to see what other savings you dig up!
PSB is known in the PR and Advertising world as Penn Schoen and Berland. They represented Hillary Clinton’s last presidential campaign. Mark Penn was her campaign manager. The cost is $33,000 total or is that just for the phone survey?
A 20 minute phone survey is too long. Most people will not fully comprehend that the caller is conducting a survey on behalf of the town of New Castle. They will see on their caller id some unrecognizable number or some identifier indicating a survey company. Many simply will not answer. Those that do answer will not spend 20 minutes on the telephone with a stranger. Forgive me for saying this but the NIMBYs will anxiously await the call and fully cooperate. The rest of us have a life and simply do not care enough or have the time to participate in this waste of time and money. All this to satisfy and placate a small minority.
Why are we wasting money on 2 weeks of telephone interviews? I thought all the master plan committees and sub committees complete with many resident volunteers offering options and suggestions was giving PACE the feedback needed. Do we really expect residents to spend20 minutes on the phone with some survey company?
When are these calls going to be made- day or evening? I know my wife and i after a day of work and dinner with the kids have little interest in a 20 min phone call. Also , our Jewish friends will be celebrating Holidays last week of Sept. This doesn’t seem to be too well thought out.
Just last week, I received a call from a survey company claiming to be hired by an “independent” sponsor. At first I thought it might be related to the New Castle survey so I stayed on the phone. About 5 minutes into the questions I realized it was about Senator Wag we ( whoever he is) and I hung up.
I think we all understand that this costly exercise is all about placating Ms Katz and her cronies. I know Rob Greenstein is trying his hardest to advance his plan to revitalize downtown and also work with the developer at CC to utilize the property to best serve all of us. These are not mutually exclusive. They both can be done but as long as Katz & Co continue to obstruct all progress we must put up with this type of nonsense. And we pay our tax dollars to indulge and pacify them. I’d rather spend the 20 minutes with my family than on the telephone survey.
Rob – we all know this master plan process with Pace and now this phone survey is all to pacify and quiet your teammate Ms Katz and her neighbors. Developments and improvements must come to New Castle. Increasing our tax base while bringing needed retail like a Whole Foods is in our best interest and supported by most. We have already seen the results of several studies and surveys that prove it. We understand you had to acquiesce but a 20 minute telephone survey- really? When was the last time you or anybody you know spent twenty minutes on a telephone with a stranger answering questions. Maybe 5 minutes- certainly not 20. Most everybody I know won’t/ don’t answer or hang up. But we know those opposed to retail at CC will be anxiously awaiting their call and will spend every bit of the 20 minutes knocking the plan.
This isn’t that hard. Improve downtown with better mix of stores and improved parking. No major changes like chain stores and parking garages. We like our quaint downtown.
Get Whole Foods , retail and a gym at CC-work with SG to get town pool or rec fields.
Allow more condo- townhouses to add variety of housing stock town wide.
Expand sewers town wide where possible. That’s the master plan. Hold the 20 minute phone survey.
Great job on garbage contract. It is such a relief to have a Town Board in place that actually works for the taxpayers. The previous boards were more concerned about their political agenda and used our taxpayers as a wallet to fund a higher than needed budgets and expenses (i.e.
$300K gazebo). It is amazing what can happen when government actually works for the taxpayer and does not think we all run $10 billion hedge funds…
To our Town Board – who’s brilliant idea was it to waste tax payer money to conduct this telephone survey? Most of the people I know are very busy working raising families running to youth sport events carpooling going to after school activities preparing meals and running chores. We don’t have the time or the inclination to answer a telephone call from a polling – survey company and stay engaged for twenty minutes. Twenty minutes! Call me during the day and we both work. Call during the early evening and I’m preparing dinner and we are eating. Call me later in the evening and I’m too tired.
Most people see or hear a caller conducting a survey and we don’t respond. Many are on the ” do not call ” list. Generally speaking the people ready willing and able to participate are those committed to get their way and influence this outcome. We know who they are we know where they live – nimby.
Great work by the TB on the substantial savings. It was obviously the smart thing to do to include in the bidding process both once and twice a week garbage pickups (even though we all knew we would stick to once a week). This led to much more money being saved than the previous board was able to achieve. And it should be noted that Elise Mottel argued against including proposals for both once and twice a week pickups in the bidding process.
The name change to the Millwood-West End Advisory Board is simply cosmetic. Like the last TB, the current TB has once again abandoned the West End by backing away from a town-wide reevaluation. Even Ossining is reevaluating. For New Castle not to do likewise is once again helping some residents at the expense of their neighbors in the West End.
As for the survey, stop griping. Just about the whole thing will be paid for by the money that the former town administrator is being forced to return to the town.
Great job on cost savings regarding garbage pick up!
The telephone survey/ master plan expenses are a waste of time and money.
I am one of those people that can vote either for a Democrat, a Republican, or a Tea Party person. The only thing I care about are common sense ideas. The Green Team is doing a great job, but what they need to address is streamlining the process to get a roof mounted emergency generator approved. With all the focus on all the very big issues facing New Castle, I am waiting for big structural annoucements to be made where they make doing business for both residential and commercial applications at least 50 percent easier by removing a lot of red tape oversight. Since the Green team has been in office, what have they done to make being a merchant in Chappaqua easier, or for that matter, a landlord? How is this administration going to attract a list of different kinds of businesses that would like to open up in New Castle? The Moms and Dads of downtown Chappaqua are about to announce additional store closings. What is being done to create more parking? What is being done to allow more community fairs? What is being done to come up with a Fall Festival, a Winter festival, a Spring Festival, and a Summer Festival that is built around July Fourth? What kind of attractions can we create to help the cash register ring in downtown Chappaqua? Do we conduct the Metro North BBQ Stop, where the contest would be to stop at each rail road station in order to sample BBQ – we need to do something because the businesses in Chappaqua are not making the money, but instead are relying on other streams of income to keep the doors open. This will go by the wayside once CC is operational. I think the Green Team is doing a good job, but they need to focus more on the merchants and landlords.
Doubt it offsets the money wasted on the train station fisaco orchestrated by Greenstein and Brodsky
The NIMBY faction has artificially created ‘need’ to conduct another survey, which is largely useless. I am sure Rob tying to mollify them, which is an impossibility. If a new survey is not taken that faction will falsely and pretextually claim “foul” , “see! Rob is hiding the fact that the town overwhelmingly opposes CC”, which all 4 already taken surveys have shown not to be the case.
Silliest comment of the week:
“Doubt it offsets the money wasted on the train station fisaco orchestrated by Greenstein and Brodsky”
Your points are well stated but you expect too much from the town board. Societal economics as applied to our downtown are beyond the board’s ability to make the sea change we all would like to see.
I have been repeatedly advocating for the creation of a Business Improvement District “BID”. No one, other than the editor, has commented upon my suggestion much less controverted the idea. It is a legal entity, voluntarily created at no cost to the town, to take significant steps (not all the steps) necessary towards the focused efforts necessary. Rather than ridiculous, individual agenda driven ‘steering committees’ or ‘advisory committees’, the board of directors of a BID has spending and decision making powers. The BID budget is funded through an assessment, on a linear feet, frontage basis, on included commercial properties only, no residential at all. The problem is, as it has always been, a simple one: what should be done?
Well, the creation of a BID takes much of the problem solving decisions away from the town board and places them in the hands of the owners and merchants themselves. In that manner, they can make the decisions they deem best (with their own money) and beat each other up rather than beating up Rob and the town board. So long as there is no patronage or expensive employees, and the funds are applied solely to enhancement purposes, what’s the problem? Also, the BID can apply for grants from the town board to help the cause. Those grant applications could be the subject to public comment to assure that no town money will be used foolishly. Besides, Chappaqua Crossing retail can be made part of the district such that the assessments it pays are applied by the BID board to help the down town. The BID board has discretion, just like the town board, to spend its budget as it sees fit.
If a BID is enacted by the town board, the property owners themselves can overrule its creation by majority vote. If this happens, we all can see that the property owners and merchants are refusing to help themselves.
If the BID goes through, we can all see the funding and efforts at self help taken by those affected. If they do not raise or spend money, we can also see they refuse to help themselves.
If a BID is created and doesn’t work, that is one circumstance. We can revisit the help situation. If it is not, well, us taxpayers can see that the owners and merchants are simply crying crocodile tears.
How about getting the local town out of our way. How about the town using its town lawyers at the taxpayers expense to allow merchants and landlords to place forth private sector efforts that allow them the ability to be successful within the laws of the land that already exist? How about the town getting out of the game of picking winners and losers, and in the act of allowing the merchants and landlords to decide what is best for what is already known to be what is expected by town hall? How about town hall passing town laws that give greater flexibility to the landlords to accept different kinds of tenants and create a private sector mix of businesses that work within New Castle? I am expecting big announcements from team Green that unshackle the abilities of the down town merchants and landlords. I hope to hear such announcements before the end of the year. What has Brodsky and Katz been up to, and are they working on this topic. Forget about BID, to complicated!
But lets be a bit more optimistic- if we have a BID, the property/business owners in the hamlets might just step up and figure out what really will help their livelihoods and do the cost benefit analysis necessary to decide how much to spend and what to spend it on. That’s how the system is supposed to work. Its easy to argue for spending taxpayer money for your own benefit, but a BID gives the property/business owners both the ability to decide what should be done and the responsibility to pay for it. Seems like a good idea to me.
I don’t want to pay taxes to hire lawyers to represent private business owners in the hamlets. I don’t expect the town’s lawyers to do my legal work- why should I pay to have them do yours?
A BID is a step in the right direction. Yes, it is a long journey, but, as the saying goes: “Every journey starts with the first step.”
Who in this town argues against: the business and property owners taxing themselves to pay for improvements for themselves?
Who in this town wants to subsidize non-resident business owners’ lives at the expense of their own lives? That is, help them pay the college tuition of their non-resident children, at the expense of the tuitions for their own resident children?
Who in this town thinks that he or she knows what’s best for down town merchants better than the merchants themselves?