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Mayor's Update: RGC; 2013 Budget; Sustainable Playland

An update from Rye City Mayor Douglas French.

2013 Budget Approval Set for December 19th

The City has again delivered a solid budget that keeps taxes low and continues to deliver the same level of services.  No small feat when for years the economy continues to lag and Mother Nature repeatedly shows herself.  The revised tax rate increase is proposed at 2.7% with a property tax levy of $20.5M and an overall City expense budget of $31.7M.  The tax levy is well under the New York State property tax cap.  The increase is roughly $86 to the average home in Rye or $148.91 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The latest changes included the addition of two school crossing guards and a small increase to the Rye Free Reading Room as part of the City’s annual funding.  Most other budget line items are holding flat.  This is a solid budget when compared against other municipalities and when compared to the financial trend the City had been heading.  During the period of 1999 to 2009 when government grants were plentiful and City property values were growing rapidly, property taxes still rose 6.3% on average per year or an increase in the property tax levy of $1M per year for 10 years.  There has been a renewed focus on holding the line on spending the last few years.  During the period of 2010 through the proposed budget of 2013, the property tax increases have been on average just 2% per year or a total property tax levy increase of just $1.1M during the entire 4-year period – a time when property values decreased in consecutive years and governmental assistance dried up.  This is also impressive when the impact of employee costs continues to dramatically shift the expense pie.  10 years ago in 2002, $3.1M was spent on employee benefits and that was 32% of salaries and wages and about 15% of the City’s overall annual expenditures.  Today, that number is $8.8M or 72% of salaries and wages or 27% of the City’s annual budget.  The Council will vote on the 2013 Rye City budget at its next and last public hearing on December 19th.   

City of Rye 4-Year Planning

The City has actively engaged its Citizen’s Finance Committee the last few years to look at financial and operational issues and make recommendations for the City to consider for its long-term financial sustainability.  Last week the Committee presented an initial draft of their findings which showed that the City with all things being equal and trends continuing as they are in revenues and expenses, that by 2016, the City could be running at an annual operating deficit of $2.4M on a roughly $33M budget.  While assumptions can vary, it is a stark reality that although the City has done an excellent job at managing through the economic downturn, we need to continue to look at all options in how the City operates.  The Council will be discussing and reviewing analysis and recommendations with staff and the Citizen’s Finance Committee throughout 2013.

Support for Sustainable Playland

Years ago when the County first proposed putting together a request for proposal (RFP) to “reinvent Playland”, I put together a Playland Strategic Committee to make recommendations to the City in what Rye and Westchester residents would like to see at Playland.  They came back with a number of core values that in turn the County highlighted in the RFP that ultimately went out.  Those values included the importance of financial sustainability for the park, continued open access, historical preservation, environmental preservation, and more.  The County was a great partner in listening to the concerns of Rye as the host community to Playland.  As I go around Rye and Westchester, many people are very excited about the opportunities the Sustainable Playland proposal can bring to our community.  At the next meeting of the Council, we will propose a resolution in support of the County’s decision on the agreement with Sustainable Playland.

Rye Golf Club

The Council’s investigation of the Club Manager is ongoing and we will follow any findings wherever they lead.  The matter is very serious that requires proper due diligence and we hope to inform the public of the status of the investigation as quickly as possible.

RyeDad December 18, 2012 at 10:13 PM
From: French, Douglas H. [dfrench@ryeny.gov] Sent: Monday, December 17, 2012 11:01 PM To: Leon Sculti; Council&Manager Subject: Follow-up Hello Leon -- I realize we have never met or had a conversation other than your comments from the podium, and that you have a relationship with some Council such Joe and Laura with whom you communicate with regularly on your opinions. On behalf of the rest of us, as we had asked Council people that know you, but they refused, let me say that as Council -- we are fair game as public officials, but that your implication and identification of children crosses the line. Unless there are specific acts of wrong-doing, I would suggest you keep your attacks to your obsessive compulsive attacks on me and leave the children and even City employees alone unless there are facts behind it. We will continue to keep an eye on your behavior toward City employees. Doug
RyeDad December 19, 2012 at 02:20 AM
From: French, Douglas H. [dfrench@ryeny.gov] Sent: Monday, December 17, 2012 11:01 PM To: Leon Sculti; Council&Manager Subject: Follow-up Hello Leon -- I realize we have never met or had a conversation other than your comments from the podium, and that you have a relationship with some Council such Joe and Laura with whom you communicate with regularly on your opinions. On behalf of the rest of us, as we had asked Council people that know you, but they refused, let me say that as Council -- we are fair game as public officials, but that your implication and identification of children crosses the line. Unless there are specific acts of wrong-doing, I would suggest you keep your attacks to your obsessive compulsive attacks on me and leave the children and even City employees alone unless there are facts behind it. We will continue to keep an eye on your behavior toward City employees. Doug
PC Lover January 12, 2013 at 03:41 PM
New to this Doug French debacle, but I watched the videos and read the reports. IMHO it boils down to one of two options. Either Doug French is a lying sack of dog crap who manipulated the system to his own benefit and abused his position by applying a completely different set of rules to himself than apply to everyone else....or he is a half retarded and a complete dumb ass who really was the clueless schmucko he claims to be. Which is it Doug? Evil twisted spin doctor or mentally challenged clueless buffoon? You explain that the attic was renovated before your ownership, however I see no mention or explanation of all the other extensive renovations you did while you owned it. YOU converted that house from 2 family to one family AND did all those electrical and plumbing renovations without permits AND hired contractors who did the work on without permits KNOWING full well they were REQUIRED of EVERYONE doing that type of extensive renovation....You should be horribly ashamed of yourself, embarrassed, and should apologize to all the good people of Rye who actually followed the rules while their Mayor bamboozled them.
PC Lover January 12, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Even if everything illegal you did was before you were mayor...you knew what you were doing...you should man up and apologize. For you to accuse Mr. Sculti of obsessive compulsive attacks when he caught you with your hand in the cookie jar is disingenuous at best. I think if you manned up and admitted your mistake and apologized he would probably leave you alone....but you are too much the ego-maniacal narcissist to ever admit you made a mistake. I feel sorry for your family as your personality type is likely horrible to have to live with on a daily basis.
PC Lover January 12, 2013 at 03:55 PM
And to add insult to injury....your self appointed ethics committee would have been a funny joke if it was not so horribly sad. Shame on all of you. Hard to believe you can sleep at night.

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