Meet the Greenburgh Town Board Candidates: Gina Jackson

The PCCA asked each of the Greenburgh Town Board Candidates a series of questions that we felt were most pertinent to our community. Below are the responses from Gina Jackson:

  • What is your position on Edgemont Incorporation? And, as a Town Board Member how would you address the impact of their incorporation to the rest of the Town if it were to happen?

Since the question is a hypothetical, I would first like to comment on the likelihood of Edgemont incorporating.  Financially, adding another layer of government doesn’t make sense. The Town and the existing six Villages have been working cooperatively for years to consolidate services.  However, there are mandated requirements for each municipality so consolidating services with an existing village can only go so far. The best way to consolidate services is to not create the additional layer of government in the first place.  In fact, I have learned there was a forum regarding Edgemont’s potential incorporation a few years ago when the mayor of Ardsley was invited to speak about the pros and cons of incorporating since Ardsley is approximately the same size. The mayor said if Ardsley wasn’t a village he seriously doubted there would now be a movement to incorporate; however, since it has been a village since 1896 and the infrastructure has been built out, even though there are staffing challenges due to its small size, he thought dissolving the village would be highly unlikely, which is understandable.  

Edgemont, along with the rest of the unincorporated area, shares the excellent and efficient services of our police, sanitation, highway, EMS, etc.  The taxes on the new Edgemont village residents will rise significantly while they try to build the infrastructure of the new municipality and try to contract for services, instead of relying on the reliable and efficient services already received from the town.

The 100 year old village law regarding incorporation states that only the inhabitants of a proposed village get to vote on incorporation.  That law was enacted when the area outside the proposed village(s), the unincorporated area, was farmland. There was no need to give farmland (the unincorporated area) a vote when the law was written.  Now, the unincorporated area has inhabitants, more than 40,000 inhabitants, as well as homes and businesses, that would be impacted. It is a different time. However, the law is the law, and the law must be followed.

Should Edgemont vote to incorporate it would have a devastating impact on the Unincorporated Area, which, of course, includes the PCCA area.  Frankly, everyone in the town will be affected, including the existing villages.

Before leaving the likelihood of the hypothetical, I want you to know I have had discussions with Edgemont residents to better understand why some want to incorporate and others want the right to vote, without stating how they would vote.  I pledged to the residents of Edgemont (and of all Greenburgh) to be present at meetings and listen to the concerns raised. Incorporation is one of those issues, of course. I have been listening. I believe I can make a difference.

The town has been guardedly preparing for the potential loss of revenue by reducing staff through attrition.  New hires know the potential of incorporation continues to loom. It is terrible for morale.

It is likely the new village would initially seek to contract with the town for the excellent services the town provides.  However, a new Edgemont village could also contract with Scarsdale, Yonkers or Ardsley, so the unincorporated area relying on contracts and bidding “wars” for contracted services does not seem like a dependable long-term budget solution for unincorporated residents.  Increased efficiency, such as the use of the side-loading sanitation trucks, which reduced the staffing from 2-3 workers per truck to 1, and other personnel reductions, preferably through attrition, will continue to be needed. If incorporation occurs, the area of the unincorporated area would decrease, so the need for personnel to service that smaller area would also decrease.  Who you elect to make these human resources decisions is important.

After I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, I spent 17 years in the field of Human Resources, earning the nickname Gina “HR” Jackson because of my love for helping people.  In 2004 I moved to Atlanta, GA, and worked as Chief of Staff for the Deputy Commissioner of Watershed Management under the administration of the Honorable Shirley Franklin. Mayor Franklin taught me what a dedicated politician should be, a person who listens and then acts on the constituents’ behalf.  Using my experience as Chief of Staff and the many administrative responsibilities that entailed, and my experience and relationships working with the New York State Governor’s office when I returned to New York, I believe I have the skills to weather whatever challenges arise should Edgemont incorporate.  I hope it does not come to that. My goal is to listen, work to address whatever needs to be addressed to reduce the desire to incorporate, and then act responsibility and with transparency to mitigate potential impacts.

We all moved to Greenburgh because of the quality of life and level of services it provides, regardless of social or economic status.  I believe we can make a convincing argument we are stronger united than divided. I look forward to being invited to one of your PCCA meetings so we may continue this dialogue in person.

  • In what ways can the Town Board more effectively work with both the School and Fire Districts?

As your members know, school districts and fire districts are separate municipal entities.  A school district can actually build a building without approval from the town. The district would be foolish doing so since there would be an increased liability should something adversely happen, but I state this to make a point: the Town is a guest at the table of school districts and fire districts.  The town’s main function for the districts is to bill for the taxes they warrant (the amount they say they want from the taxpayers) and then the town forwards full payment to the districts even if the taxpayers do not pay their taxes. Having said that, a good working relationship between the town and other taxing jurisdictions (including the county and state) is imperative to ensure our residents receive quality services and the quality of life in the town is maintained.

If elected I would seek regular meetings with the school districts and fire districts, if invited by the districts, so that consensus may be built and mutual interests achieved early on any project, small or large.  Early on in the process is key here. We serve the same constituents. The Town Board has liaisons to many groups, it makes sense to expand those relationships to the school districts and fire districts.

The town does work closely with school districts.  For example, the town has an excellent relationship regarding coordinating after school programs.  I am aware of the program for Greenburgh Central School District because I live in the district, as you do.  Extending the town’s paving contract terms to the school district may also provide savings for the school, and providing technical advice early on when projects are proposed could be a significant cost savings.

I am aware the Hartsdale and Fairview Fire Departments have asked the town to alter how fire hydrant rental fees are collected and I would be very interested in being part of those discussions, especially since I have related experience.  The Town’s Antenna Review Board has also worked very closely with both the Hartsdale and Fairview Fire Departments. They districts have insisted antenna applicants comply with the town’s code even when the applicants tried not to. I expect that excellent relationship to continue, and perhaps to could build in a broader relationship.  I would be willing to explore that.

The bottom line for this question is increased communication is needed, and I pledge to reach out to the districts to foster those discussions.

  • How would you propose to address the current Town need for a new Police Headquarters and Court House?

We need to immediately address the current state our Police Headquarters and Court House.  It is very troubling that the town cannot hire a qualified female police officer because there are inadequate facilities to accommodate her.  We must of course find a way. All the closets and other workarounds have been explored and used. The Police Department was built for approximately one-half the number of officers we have today.  As our population has grown, so has our need for police officers. The officers lockers have been reduced in size by half over the years resulting in their equipment not fitting in the lockers as the number of items on their belts have significantly increased.  The courthouse is no better. It is not appropriate that someone who goes to pay or dispute a parking ticket at the courthouse gets a ticket because there is no parking near the courthouse. You likely know someone who experienced this.

I am aware the town has done a needs study.  There is no surprise there is a need. The town is about to hire a consultant to present options that meet our current and expected future growth.  The town has been planning for this and has moved significant dollars into a reserve to lessen the financial impact when it comes. The town is also getting estimates of how much the existing police department and court house sites could be sold for, again to offset the cost.  The town’s bond rating is the highest rating given so that will help reduce borrowing costs.

Most importantly, and I keep returning to this, I intend to be present, listen and then act on your behalf.  Transparency is critical throughout the entire process. It also important to have community involvement as decisions are being made.  The community will be a key partner in how this need is addressed, if I am on the board.

  • In your opinion, what is the most critical issue that the Town Board is currently facing that will most significantly impact the 526 households of the Poets Corner Residents?

As the length of my answer to Question 1 should indicate, Edgemont incorporating is the most critical issue addressing the PCCA area and the entire town.  No area is immune. To a lesser extent, the potential of Edgement incorporating also is a serious issue because it can limit hiring decisions, which is where my expertise in Human Resources would be important.

Meet the Greenburgh Town Board Candidates: Ken Jones

The PCCA asked each of the Greenburgh Town Board Candidates a series of questions that we felt were most pertinent to our community. Below are the responses from Ken Jones:

  • What is your position on Edgemont Incorporation?

I have not heard a good reason for further incorporation. The primary concern of more control over land use decisions does not ring true: Edgemont residents are on the Planning Board, Zoning Board and Conservation Advisory Council. Edgemont residents were on the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee. When the proposed Comprehensive Plan suggested mixed use construction on Central Avenue in Edgemont, residents objected and mixed use development was scrapped town wide, including at Four Corners. Since at least the 1950s Edgemont has received favorable treatment from Greenburgh Town Boards.

  • And, as a Town Board Member how would you address the impact of their incorporation to the rest of the Town if it were to happen? 

Higher taxes and/or diminished services. This is the only answer when $17M is taken from the budget. This will also be the case for residents of Edgemont Village e.g. residents will not be able to contract for town services at the same price and will have to pay an added administrative fee, not to mention salaries and benefits for village government employees. Police, DPW, Parks and Community Resources will likely all suffer cutbacks in the remaining unincorporated area.

  • In what ways can the Town Board more effectively work with both the School and Fire Districts?

These are districts independent of the town. We don’t exercise control over them. They are separate taxing authorities. Certainly we should work together to make sure residents receive the best services.

We could probably decrease costs and benefit from economies of scale across the three entities if we shared services and did bulk purchasing of items e.g. custodial services and paper goods . This would help keep taxes down.

  • How would you propose to address the current Town need for a new Police Headquarters and Court House?

A committee composed of court and police staff, DPW staff, the Assessor and I are negotiating with real estate consulting firms who will identify likely locations for the new facility and advise on disposing of the old one. They will assist with the purchase and the sale. They will help to determine whether to build a new facility or to retrofit and/or add to an already existing one.

This is the first step in the process; meanwhile we have to continue keeping court and police employees safe, secure and as comfortable as possible in their existing situation.

  • In your opinion, what is the most critical issue that the Town Board is currently facing that will most significantly impact the 526 households of the Poets Corner Residents?

Putting aside the spectre of incorporation, serious issues could be coming with the proposed developments of assisted living facilities at Metropolis Country Club and Maplewood Swim Club. These, combined with the culling of trees at Maria Regina and the proposed Woodlands consolidation mean the area around Poet’s Corner could face a significant increase in population density, traffic congestion and de-forestation.

Dobbs Ferry Road and West Hartsdale Avenue are narrow windy roads, already fairly dense with homes and businesses. Traffic is often backed up along both. Adding these types of facilities is sure to add to the peak hour traffic problems on both roads.

Any development along these thoroughfares will change our quality of life in a meaningful way, so thoughtful development is necessary. Existing density may make these sites inappropriate for assisted living facilities since they have to be large enough to contain enough units to turn a profit; this usually means the size of the ones already built in the town further down Dobbs Ferry Road and on White Plains Road.

Taking down acres of mature trees and building assisted living facilities the size and scope of these will permanently alter the character of these gateways to Poet’s Corner and thus our quality of life.

Meet the Greenburgh Town Board Candidates: Eric Zinger

The PCCA asked each of the Greenburgh Town Board Candidates a series of questions that we felt were most pertinent to our community. Below are the responses from Eric Zinger:

  • What is your position on Edgemont Incorporation?

As many people are aware, Edgemont is trying to become the 7th village in the Town of Greenburgh. I believe that Unincorporated Greenburgh is much stronger united, and hope that Edgemont does not incorporate into a village. Edgemont represents 17% of the population of Unincorporated Greenburgh and 27% of the tax revenues. Were Edgemont to incorporate, that revenue would disappear immediately, and remaining Unincorporated Greenburgh residents would be left with a combination of service cuts and/or tax increases.

However Edgemont is not the enemy. We are all part of one Greenburgh, and the Town, particularly Supervisor Feiner has done a poor job of escalating the tension between the Town and Edgemont. The Town Board unanimously approved funding to hire private investigators to go into Edgemont residents home and trick them into signing affidavits that they did not mean to sign the incorporation petition. There was the infamous Father’s Day hearing 2 years ago, scheduled with less than 24 hours notice, after the Town secretly ruled on a Home Rule resolution without public notice.  These actions were both wrong.

I’m running because I want to repair the relationship between the Town and the Edgemont community. I believe eventually, there will be a vote on incorporation and when that vote happens, I hope Edgemont residents choose not to incorporate. You can also see my response to the question of Edgemont Incorporation in the debate about 54 minutes into the video. http://greenburghny.swagit.com/play/06142019-507

  • And, as a Town Board Member how would you address the impact of their incorporation to the rest of the Town if it were to happen?

If Edgemont were to incorporate, we would have to take a hard look at every aspect of Town Government to see what is most necessary to preserve. It is hard to see a future with an Incorporated Edgemont that doesn’t result in some combination of service cuts and tax increases put in place to balance the budget.  There is the possibility that Edgemont could look to contract back with the Town for some essential services. If that were the case, any agreement would need to ensure that unincorporated residents were strongly represented at the negotiating table, to ensure that the full and total cost of those services were covered by any intermunicipal agreement.

  • In what ways can the Town Board more effectively work with both the School and Fire Districts?

We need a Town Board that is supportive of our School District and Fire Districts, but also respects that those are separate government entities.  I was disappointed that Councilman Jones and Councilman Sheehan, who do live in GCSD stayed completely silent on the GCSD bond referendum.


Now more than ever we depend on our local government to respond to the needs of our community.  All elected officials need to work together to lead Greenburgh into the future and we need leaders who are going to be outspoken advocates for our community.

Regarding the Hartsdale Fire District, I am excited about some of the things that are happening there.  I think that Jason Muldoon has been an excellent addition to the Hartsdale Fire Commissioner Board. We are looking at selecting a new Chief in the coming year with the retirement of Chief Rush and that will be an important decision that will help shape the future of the department.

  • How would you propose to address the current Town need for a new Police Headquarters and Court House?

I would encourage anyone who is looking to learn more about this topic to watch the May 22nd Town Board meeting where a presentation was made regarding the facilities conditions.  You can watch that presentation here- http://greenburghny.swagit.com/play/05222019-1989/#0

It is clear that improvements are required at the facility to properly accommodate our female police officers, our handicapped citizens, and all those who use the facilities.  I elaborate on this more in my next point, but this is why it is so important that our tax dollars be spent as efficiently as possible. We have real infrastructure needs in our Town that need to be addressed; we need to ensure that we are spending taxpayer dollars for maximum return on investment.  We cannot be wasting money when real needs like the Police/Court facility exist.

The Court and Police facility is long overdue for an upgrade, but we must be conscious of the large cost as well.  Any plan that we come up with for both purchasing a suitable location, and construction, must fit in the new age of the capped SALT deduction, and not place an onerous burden on taxpayers.

  • In your opinion, what is the most critical issue that the Town Board is currently facing that will most significantly impact the 526 households of the Poets Corner Residents?

In my opinion, the most critical issue is controlling property tax growth in the new, uncharted era of the SALT deduction cap.  To that end, in my first two years I will only vote for budgets that hold the property tax rate flat.  Greenburgh residents need tax relief while the town assesses the impact of the SALT deduction cap.  This is very much possible in the current environment with reduced tax certiorari’s, higher than ever County Sales Tax Revenue, and most importantly smart budgeting. This past year the Town Board created a new position, a position that Supervisor Feiner himself has referred to in the past as “A gigantic waste of taxpayer money”.  We need to disband the route 9A TIF district and return over $300k a year property tax revenue from special interest projects to the general tax base. We need smart, data driven budgets, to ensure our tax dollars are spent with maximum efficiency.

Important information about absentee ballots for the upcoming school bond vote

IF YOU ALREADY VOTED BY  ABSENTEE BALLOT ON  GREENBURGH SCHOOL BOND REFERENDUM – YOU NEED TO DO IT AGAIN BECAUSE SCHOOL BOARD CHANGED DATE OF REFERENDUM

Dr. Tahira Chase, Superintendent of Schools for the Greenburgh School district advised that “Those who submitted an absentee ballot will need to submit a new ballot.”  due to the School Board changing the date of the referendum from Feb 12 to March 19th. 

Operation Candy Cane

The Fairview Fire Department is honored to be helping Santa visit all the neighborhood children and deliver Candy Canes to both Adults and Children alike.  Please view the schedule below to know…

 

The Hartsdale Fire Department is proud to announce their annual Operation Candy Cane, which will take place on Saturday December 22nd, 2018, from 9:00am – 1:00pm. The Hartsdale Professional Firefighters will spread Holiday Cheer by escorting Santa Claus and his helpful friends around the Hartsdale Fire District in a Fire Engine Sleigh handing out Candy Canes to all attending children & adults. Printed below is a full list of all Stops & Times and to make sure everyone is at the right location awaiting Santa’s arrival, the location marker signs shown below will be posted at every stop. Due to the busyness of Santa’s schedule, please allow for some flexibility with our estimated arrival times. Also, due to safety concerns, we ask that all children are accompanied by an adult and arrive at the designated locations approximately 10 minutes prior to posted times to avoid children running around and near the fire trucks. In the event of inclement weather, this event will take place on Sunday December 23rd, 2018. For more information regarding Operation Candy Cane, updates, cancelations and rain dates, or for more interesting information about the Hartsdale Fire Department’s services, news, activities, or fire safety and prevention please check out our website at hartsdalefire.org. We want to wish everyone a safe and healthy Holiday Season…
9:00 HARTSDALE TRAIN STATION

9:15 ROCKLEDGE CIRCLE / ROCKLEDGE ROAD

9:22 EAST HARTSDALE / CATERSON TERRACE

9:29 LAKEVIEW AVE / MAPLE STREET

9:36 WEBB FIELD PARKING LOT

9:43 CORNELL DR / PRINCETON DR

9:50 IFO 15 FIELDSTONE DR

9:57 BRIAR CLOSE / COLONY DR

10:04 IFO 125 N. WASHINGTON

10:11 75 WEST HARTSDALE, “THE HAMLET”

10:18 PINEWOOD RD / WILDWOOD RD

10:25 HOMEWOOD CT

10:32 WOOD PL / MAPLEWOOD RD

10:39 WOODS END RD / WOODS END LN

10:46 SHAW PL / SPENCER CT

10:53 STEVENSON AVE / POE ST

11:00 TENNYSON ST / HOLMES AVE

11:07 HOLMES AVE / BURNS ST

11:14 BARBARA LN / JEAN LN

11:21 SHERBROOKE / BURKEWOOD RD

11:28 SOUTHERN RD / HOWARD PL

11:35 TRADER JOE’S

12:00 RIDGE ROAD PARK PARKING LOT

12:15 MARION WOODS

12:30 HARTSDALE TRAIN STATION/VILLAGE

Snow Angels

Would you like a Free Snow Blower?

The Poets Corner Civic Association has decided to donate money towards a snow blower to be used to help clear the snow for the elderly and infirm.   If you are willing to commit to clearing the driveways and sidewalks for three of your neighbors, and becoming an official Greenburgh “Snow Angel” in the Poets Corner Community, a brand new snow blower will be at your disposal this winter.  Funding for gas will also be provided.

If this seems like too much for one person to handle, why not team up with a neighbor?  You can share the snow blower and then team up to do the snow angel work as well.  If you have high school aged children, better yet!   ” Team work makes the dream work!”

Supervisor Feiner will provide us with the list of neighbors that require snow removal.

Anyone interested in assisting with the program please contact Mona Fraitag at 914-946-1906