Opinion: Edgemont Incorporation Is Risky

The effects of the potential incorporation of Edgemont extend far beyond its proposed borders, generating substantial risk for the Unincorporated Area of the Town and The Villages. Should incorporation come to fruition, the loss of Property Tax Revenue to the remaining unincorporated area will be $16,544,000, approximately 26% of the Town B Budget. As more than 50% of the cost of running the Town is payroll related, clearly many Town employees who have served us well for decades will lose their jobs. The Town is in the process of establishing scenarios which will plan for potential reductions in services and Property Tax increases caused by the loss of revenue, but clearly, there will be a necessity for both.
For Edgemont, the risk is no less than for the remainder of the Town. The incorporation Feasibility Report/Budget, presented to the community was prepared by the Edgemont Incorporation Committee and corroborated, we believe poorly, by two outside paid consultants. Most telling is the fact that the report was prepared and corroborated without any discussion with any uf the Department Heads of the Town. Although there is no question that everyone involved on both sides of the debate believes that existing services provided by the Town are excellent, the EIC proposal replaces Police and Public Works with its own Depts. and totally removes Parks and Rec. funding, currently enjoyed by many Edgemont residents. The budget and staffing levels for proposed services, which the EIC states are in line with surrounding Villages, are in fact replete with errors in presentation and cost and are clearly inadequate. The EIC’s refusal to include the obvious costs of services such as EMS, at nearly $1,000,000 per year, a Receiver of Taxes, outside DPW contract services and adequate supervisory and support staff, highlights the inadequacy of their preparation. The EIC proposal attempts to compare new Edgemont services with comparable Villages, but refuses to make the comparison with existing services, which are far better and therefore far more expensive.
The major issue for the EIC has been governance. Their approach has been to attack the Town and its Board members wherever possible. The concept of self governance, especially in land use and zoning are the foundation of the EIC argument. However, zoning is a matter of NYS Land Use Law and zoning and planning committees cannot, break these laws to deter projects they find personally unacceptable. As an example, it should be noted that the EIC has stated they will utilize the Greenburgh codes until they establish their own. How is this different?
The greatest issue for Edgemont residents remains RISK.
1-     Where will EMS services come from?
2-     How will lost Parks and Rec. services be replaced?
3-     How can understaffed and underfunded departments provide the services and safety we now enjoy and require?
4-     What will happen to those who park at the Hartsdale Station if litigation is unsuccessful?
5-     How will property values be affected by $23,000,000 in initial capital debt?
6-     How will property values be affected by the uncertainty of new zoning laws and a new and inexperienced government?
7-     Will the outside world view Edgemont’s “secession” from a less affluent and racially diverse larger community of Greenburgh, as elitist and less desirable?
8-     In the event of an emergency or series of untoward events, how will a proposed Edgemont Village, with a new and inexperienced government, very limited financial assets and no outside support survive crisis?
A strong and effective Police force keeps us safe, a DPW department with experienced and dedicated staff and a fleet of vehicles and modern equipment collect our trash, service and plow our roads and ensure our basic life safety. Our Parks and Rec. system is excellent and available and our administrative services are efficient and effective. Our Municipality and Government Work and have Worked for Decades!!
Michael Schwartz, Edgemont Resident