State Assemblyman George Latimer held his regular "Cup of Joe with with George and Judy" (County Legislator Judy Myers) meeting this past Saturday at Ruby's on Purchase Street where he makes himself available to the citizens of Rye to hear the pressing issues of the day.
Latimer filed this report with MyRye.com:
Over 30 people attend the recent Saturday "Coffee with Judy and George" – County Legislator Judy Myers and State Assemblyman George Latimer at Ruby's Oyster Bar on Purchase Street last Saturday, Feb. 12.
The issues raised by the crowd – which included residents from Mamaroneck, Port Chester and Larchmont, as well as Rye – pivoted on two main issues: the State's proposed 2% property tax cap, and the future of County-owned Playland. Rye Mayor Doug French, Rye Neck School Board President Heidi Sickles and Trustee Guy Pipolo and Schools Superintendent Peter Mustich were among those attending, and in some cases, opining.
Governor Cuomo's 2% Tax Cap drew both concerns and support. The concerns came from those who believe there will be a negative effect of the cap – especially if there is no unfunded mandate relief attached - devastating to schools, particularly in light of the State budget's cut in school aid. Sickles said the State has made the personnel policy decisions to allow for costly pensions, and the Triborough Amendment and is now turning to school districts to make the tough decisions to cut what smaller amounts are within their control. Bob Paladino, a former Harrison Councilman and School Board President agreed that the State created the problem, but takes no real responsibility in solving it. A number of citizens spoke out strongly for the Tax Cap – Jack Zahringer and Julie Killian, among others, arguing it will force the decisions needed to cut personnel mandates and employee entitlements. John Alfano and Bob Zahm discussed administrative costs for school districts, specifically, percentages for overhead. Assemblyman Latimer indicated that the Assembly is expected to take up the tax cap in April or May, and expects it to come to a vote; he promised to e-mail all attendees a copy of the actual tax cap bill so they could review the specifics.
On the County side, Nelson Sales of Rye asked about an update on Playland; Legislator Myers outlined the timeframe for proposals to arrive in March, which will begin, in earnest, to review of specific ideas on the future of the park. Sales and Sis D'Angelo wanted to ensure that no public tax dollars were planned for the operation of the proposed Westchester Children's Museum. Some discussion also covered noise at Playland and at Rye Town Beach, with Seaside Johnny's and The Tiki Bar coming under scrutiny for noise and crowd control. Greg McKenzie and Bernie and Peggy Althoff wanted an update on flood mitigation plans, which Latimer and Myers covered (the $400K state money for the sluice gate appears to be in order), and Claudia Soto of Rye touched on job creation in the county.
Latimer reminded attendees he was hosting a Public Hearing on the NYS Budget in Port Chester this Thursday, Feb. 17, from 4 pm to 8 pm at the PC Seniors Center, 220 Grace Church St.
The two closed up shop in Rye around 11:45 a.m. – and headed off to Mamaroneck for another 2 hour session in the afternoon. (Interesting note: in Mamaroneck, none of the 30+ attendees there asked about Playland, although the tax cap was the main issue there as well).