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Home Government Speaking French: Mayor's Update - A Keith Look-Back

Speaking French: Mayor’s Update – A Keith Look-Back

Here is the next edition of Speaking French, the Mayor's Update.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

City Council Updates from Mayor Douglas French

A Record of Solving Problems

As the City Council discusses filling the vacancy of Suzanna Keith at our June 13th meeting, I want to take a look back at what has been accomplished in just 30 short months of her time on the Council. We came in together to drive change for Rye's future. The results speak for themselves. Here are the highlights:

Financial Sustainability

  • Held the line on City Spending. In 2008 actual City spending on general fund operations was $31.1M. The adopted budget in 2012 is $29.9M.
  • Stopped the Growth Trajectory on Property Taxes. In 2000 the City property tax levy was $10M. In 2009 it was $19.1M (a 10% increase per year from original base). The 2012 adopted levy is $19.9M (a 1.6% increase per year from original base).
  • Restored the Undesignated Fund balance. The City's undesignated fund balance (savings account) is at $3.8M or back to a healthy 13% of the annual operating budget which is good for the City's financial position and AAA rating.
  • Managing the Rising Cost of Healthcare — The Council took action by adopting in consultation with retirees a new post-65 retiree Aetna healthcare insurance plan saving about $200,000 per year covering about 80 retired employees.
  • Joint Resolution for Mandate Relief by the City and School District — The Rye City Board of Education and Council passed a joint resolution for meaningful mandate relief to be enacted by the New York State government.

Litigation Management

  • The Osborn Resolution –The City, Rye City School District and the Osborn Home reconciled and ended the long-standing property tax dispute following a court decision.
  • Law Department Restructure. The council re-organized the law department to shift from a variable hourly rate model to one that has fixed rates for general municipal activity resulting in substantial savings for the City.
  • Water Rate Settlement with WJWW. The City successfully negotiated moderate rate increases with Westchester Joint Water Works compared to other municipalities.
  • Dredging Lawsuit w/ RB Conway –The City settled favorably in this 2009 matter.
  • Settlement of the Shew Matter — The Council approved a stipulation of discontinuance of the 2009 matter of former City Manager, Paul Shew.
  • Highland Hall Settlement — The City negotiated a settlement to re-affirm tenant protection for all 99 units at 131 Purchase Street.

Capital Improvements

  • City Prepares for a November Bond Referendum on Decaying Infrastructure. Rye faces major capital needs with a crumbling infrastructure to include roads, sidewalks, sewers, storm drains and flood mitigation and plans for a 2012 bond.
  • The Central Avenue Bridge — The Council voted in favor of continuing the City's efforts to have the bridge rebuilt and work through regulatory issues with NY State DOT for a July 1st bidding of the project.
  • 1037 Boston Post Road Site. The Council reversed the decision to develop a Police Station/Court House facility at the site for $25M and is continuing to explore all options.

City Operations

  • Re-organization of the Rye Fire Department — The City Council approved to amend the City Charter to establish a direct reporting relationship to the City Manager so that both the volunteer and career Fire Department personnel report into the same office.
  • City Hall Positions. The Council in conjunction with the City Manger have hired a new generation of personnel to lead at City Hall to include the City Engineer, Building Inspector, Corporation Counsel, and City Manager. Fire inspector and Comptroller are pending.
  • Emergency Notification Service. The City established use of the reverse 911 and Nixle.com alert service to notify residents of emergency situations.
  • Government Policy and Research Committee. The Council established the Government Policy and Research Committee whose purpose is to provide an objective perspective to the community on City, County, and State legislative actions.

Flood Mitigation

  • A Newly Formed Rye Flood Committee Established — To advise the Council and assist the City in the implementation of the City's flood mitigation plan.
  • Flood Mitigation Sluice Gate Gets Final Approval — Phase one of the city's flood mitigation plan got final approval and the work awarded for the sluice gate project at the Bowman Avenue spillway to regulate the water flow to help mitigation efforts. Phase two to expand the upper pond is under review.
  • Beaver Swamp and Project Home Run — The City of Rye has actively participated in an administrative hearing on Beaver Swamp and Harrison's Project Home Run to determine flood mitigation solutions as necessary.

Pedestrian Safety

  • Downtown Stop Signs were installed to replace traffic lights and have proven to be very successful in meeting the two key objectives of improving pedestrian safety and traffic flow.
  • Federal Stimulus Pedestrian Safety Projects. A series of 5 pedestrian safety initiatives to improve sidewalks and roadways were completed around Rye.
  • The Distracted Driving Epidemic — The City was very pleased to join the YMCA and Safe Routes to School to participate in a series of community efforts to raise awareness on this issue.
  • Midland Avenue Stop Signs — The Council worked through Federal and County regulatory issues and began a stop sign pilot in order to allow safer crossing at Midland Avenue.
  • Shared Roadway Initiatives. The Council established this committee to develop and initiate projects around Rye to allow for a more active, safe and shared roadways for walkers, joggers, bikers and drivers.
  • Boston Post Road Pedestrian Safety Improvements — The Council acted to extend the Boston Post Road (BPR) Diet project by Osborn School.

Quality of Life Improvements

  • Environmental Sustainability Committee Launched. The Council established an environmental sustainability committee to help the City inform and educate the public on sustainability practices, and to assist in developing a sustainability plan.
  • $1M in Bird Homestead Grants Fully Recovered — As part of Rye's efforts for historical preservation, the City worked diligently and recouped the City's total financial outlay for this purchase.
  • Public Sculpture Exhibition on Purchase Street
  • The Council was pleased to approve a sculpture exhibition in May along Purchase Street as part of a program with the Rye Arts Center.
  • The Future of Playland. The City has played an active role in working with the County to look at ways to re-invent Playland and make it successful for all Westchester residents.
  • Friends Meeting House Opens — The City entered into a public-private partnership that opened the Friends Meeting House after 10 years of the facility being dormant.
  • Affordable Housing Project Update — As part of the affordable housing settlement and the consent decree between the Department of Justice and Westchester County, Rye continues to move forward with one of the qualified projects that will open in August.
  • Rye Town Park — Rye City and Rye Town have worked together to restore the quality of life of the park, improve its safety and environmental conditions, and operate under financial controls so as to not add financial burdens to resident taxpayers.

 

  1. Why all the big boasting for Suzanna Keith….I smell a rat!!!

    What, she is responsible for all this?

    Mayor French gives zero credit to the other Council Members that have served during this same 30 month time frame!

    Catherine Parker & Joe Sack have done just as much if not more and they are STILL HERE!!!

    We should be supporting those whom are still here and continue to serve us and serve us “HONESTLY”….NOT DESERT US!!!

    “Oh barefoot Suzanna, oh don’t you climb a tree for me, because you came from Tennessee with a band-aid on your knee and you brought nothing to Rye”!

  2. Mr. French is ethically challenged. This we know –

    http://www.lausdeo10580.com/lausdeo10580/2012/06/rye-2010-present-property-owners-variance-applications.html

    Mr. French is apparently also mathematically challenged. This we didn’t know –

    Mrs. Keith began her run for county office 12 months after joining the Rye City Council

    Mrs. Keith failed in her effort to leave the Rye City Council 22 months after joining it.

    Mrs. Keith set a county record – 14 days+ – for conceding her county election loss.

    Mrs. Keith announced she was leaving Rye 25 months after joining the Rye City Council.

    Mrs. Keith was involved in an incident in Rye on the night of May 5th, 2012 – 28 months after joining the Rye City Council.

    Mrs. Keith’s incident, according to eye witnesses, was apparently inaccurately portrayed in the Rye City Police Blotter for the night of May 25th and on the morning of May 26th.

    No one, especially me, wishes anything but the best for Mrs. Keith, her honorable, decent husband or her wonderful well liked children. Relocating is a hard hard thing to do.

    No one, especially me, has any illusions about why Mr. French distributed this curious historically incomplete and tone deaf “short 30 month(s) look-back” to the local media. Except perhaps to make a point – that 28 isn’t 30 – and that he and Mr. Jovanovich are still resisting submitting their council seat resignations –

    http://www.lausdeo10580.com/lausdeo10580/2012/04/city-of-rye-finds-9000-to-make-whistle-blower-vanish.html

  3. Corrected version (typos).

    (If only Mr. French would do the same to his.)

    Mr. French is ethically challenged. This we know –

    http://www.lausdeo10580.com/lausdeo10580/2012/06/rye-2010-present-property-owners-variance-applications.html

    Mr. French is apparently also mathematically challenged. This we didn’t know –

    Mrs. Keith began her run for county office 12 months after joining the Rye City Council

    Mrs. Keith failed in her effort to leave the Rye City Council 22 months after joining it.

    Mrs. Keith set a county record – 14 days+ – for conceding her county election loss.

    Mrs. Keith announced she was leaving Rye 25 months after joining the Rye City Council.

    Mrs. Keith was involved in an incident in Rye on the night of May 5th, 2012 – 28 months after joining the Rye City Council.

    Mrs. Keith’s incident, according to eye witnesses, was apparently inaccurately portrayed in the Rye City Police Blotter for the night of May 5th and on the morning of May 6th. (Corrected from 25th and 26th)

    No one, especially me, wishes anything but the best for Mrs. Keith, her honorable, decent husband or her wonderful well liked children. Relocating is a hard hard thing to do.

    No one, especially me, has any illusions about why Mr. French distributed this curious historically incomplete and tone deaf “short 30 month(s) look-back” to the local media. Except perhaps to make a point – that 28 isn’t 30 – and that he and Mr. Jovanovich are still resisting submitting their council seat resignations –

    http://www.lausdeo10580.com/lausdeo10580/2012/04/city-of-rye-finds-9000-to-make-whistle-blower-vanish.html

  4. •Midland Avenue Stop Signs — The Council worked through Federal and County regulatory issues and began a stop sign pilot in order to allow safer crossing at Midland Avenue.

    Translation…..The City Council through Jim Amico’s 6 YEARS of relentless efforts worked through City Manager Scott Pickup’s relentless antics and began a stop sign pilot in order to allow safer crossing at Midland Avenue.

    And please, in the future do not associate anything I am a part of with the name Ms. Suzanna Keith!!!

  5. Tim: The Central Ave Bridge is listed as a positive because French & Filippi were able to smack me down after my letter to the Jovanovich Journal suggesting the bridge not be rebuilt. In hindsight, I should have been clearer about my recommendation. Neither I nor my neighbors are against the concept of the bridge being rebuilt but we would like the City – after 5+ years – to consider a Plan B. The area is a disgusting mess (the complete opposite of a personal bonanza for us). Every time we ask for it to be cleaned up. Pickup says we have to wait for State funds. Jovanovich said he didn’t care if we have to wait 1/2 a century for the funds. So, the end of the street I live on could look like dump for 1/2 a century – wouldn’t bother Jovanovich. After I wrote my letter, I checked the Council agendas to see if it would be a topic. It was never listed. But at the early May meeting, French held the public comments section early (9:30 pm) and allowed Mark Hyland (Filippi’s neighbor) to speak for 15 minutes on the topic during which he said the only people who don’t want the bridge rebuilt are the people on Central Ave who benefit from it being down (not true). French & Filippi planned on putting forth the motion to commit to rebuilding the bridge but didn’t put it on the agenda so that no one would have the opportunity to speak on behalf of a cleanup and Plan B. Councilman Sack was the only one with the decency not to vote on a meaningless motion where only one side was heard. Just to ensure we didn’t cause any trouble, the Public Comment at the next meeting started at 12:05 am. There are many bigger problems in Rye & the world than the Central Avenue Bridge but it is another example of the Council’s disenfranchising ways.

  6. BREAKING:

    LATE FRIDAY CITY DATA DUMP INCLUDES PROPOSED MULTIMILLION DOLLAR CASH TREASURY LOSS ON “THE OTIS BUILDING” (AKA Lester’s) TAXPAYERS FIRST LOOK AT LATEST “RUSH, HUSH” DEAL IS HERE –

    See Wednesday Night Agenda Item # 14 here –

    http://bit.ly/NoPXj9

    (anyone still wondering why our highly regarded city comptroller just left with less than 1 week notice?)

    LausDeo10580 has been tracking this story. Here’s their prior report below –

    THE SECRET SALE OF 1037 BOSTON POST ROAD

    http://www.lausdeo10580.com/lausdeo10580/2012/04/1037-boston-post-rd-blackoutis-city-council-abusing-use-of-executive-session-the-city-promised-that-alisting-sheet-will-be.html

    AND – (talk about timing) – today’s Journal News has a front page story on questionable governmental property disposals. It’s here –

    East Ramapo gives A.G. records in subpoena involving sale attempts for 2 schools

    “East Ramapo had sought to sell the buildings to generate badly needed revenue, district officials have said. In his decision on the Hillcrest sale, former state Education Commissioner David Steiner said the school board failed to properly market the property, reconcile conflicting appraisals, or “take reasonable steps… to secure the best price obtainable for Hillcrest.””

    Read full LoHud front page story here – http://lohud.us/JTb8Ea

  7. UH … FOR ALL YOU SCREAMERS ABOUT THE BIG LOSS THAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN 1037 POST ROAD GETS SOLD ? WHO BOUGHT THAT BUILDING WITH TAXPAYER MONEY WITHOUT A FULL VETTING PROCESS OR PUBLIC DISCLOSURE ?

    NONE OTHER THAN STEVE OTIS ! WHY DID HE OVERPAY BY 200-300% ?

    THAT FRENCH AND COMPANY ARE TOO INEPT TO POINT OUT OTIS DESTROYED TAXPAYERS BUYING THE BUILDING IS AN EVEN BETTER QUESTION .

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