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 By Robin Jovanovich

Voters elected Rob Astorino Westchester County Executive eight years ago with the promise of protecting taxpayers (keeping taxes flat) while preserving essential services and promoting economic growth, which he often referred to as the “three Ps”. That platform brought him far, and one step closer to higher office with a solid run to unseat Gov. Cuomo. But last month, in a reversal of fortunes for the Republicans, State Senator George Latimer unseated Astorino.

Meanwhile, the County Exec has a lot he needs to finish before leaving office next month. The lease for Macquarie Infrastructure Corporation to operate Westchester Airport, a $1.1 billion

 

For the past several months, the City Manager and Comptroller and City staff have been putting together a tentative City budget for 2018. The sum of that work is a weighty 376-page document that has been presented to the City Council, which is now doing its due diligence. Department heads have made their own budget presentations at public workshops this month.

Residents can tune to RyeTV for a preliminary understanding of what’s been proposed or read the budget in full on the City website. The Council encourages the community to attend the December 6 meeting at which there will be a public hearing on the 2018 budget and consideration of adopting a local law overriding the state-mandated tax cap. The Council will vote to adopt a final budget December 20, its last regular meeting of the year.

The proposed $39.4 million budget requires a 6.23 percent tax increase and an override vote to fund the estimated $2,615,389 increase in expenditures over 2017. Rye’s tax cap for 2018 is 1.84%.

 

By Paul Hicks

To put the present-day “Police Blotter” reports in perspective, here is another glimpse into the happenings and mishaps of by-gone times, all taken from issues of the Rye Chronicle, but with a common equine theme.

<February 8, 1908>

“It is high time the village Trustees gave more police protection to Milton, where the great majority of this season’s burglaries have occurred. The knowledge of this unprotected and rich section of our village causes the burglars to be very bold. This week, when four houses were entered, it appears that the thieves even went to Milton with a horse and carriage, looted at leisure, though with small results, and drove away unmolested. Now that we have six men on our police force, would it not be wise, in justice to the Milton people, to station one man there who could keep in touch with headquarters by the police telephone recently placed near the boat works

<May 1, 1909>

Sergeant William Balls, who was shot while capturing a horse thief, was out this week and is improving rapidly. The wound is closing up nicely and within a short time the genial officer expects to be back at his place in Police Headquarters.

The horse thief has been identified as Barney Barrall, who lives at 51 Grand Street, Brooklyn. According to the police records he has served two terms in Sing Sing prison for grand larceny. He admits that he stole the horse and says that he intended to go into the junk business. Barrall had a clever way of finding out where he might lay his hands on good horses. He sold a disinfecting powder for horses, and used this as a subterfuge to visit many stables.

<February 10, 1910>

Justice of the Peace S. M. Ireland stopped H. O. Snedecor’s horse from doing damage on Tuesday after it had become frightened and started to run away. Mr. Ireland saw the horse coming down the Post Read and stopped it very cleverly.

<May 23, 1910>

FOR SALE — Chestnut horse, 16 hands, good family horse; not afraid of automobiles: also a high two-wheel road cart; a dos-a-dos runabout with rubber tires; a surrey and a set of single harness.

<July 18, 1910>

Agent Jacob Werner, Jr., of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, arrested James Hartung of Greenwich, during Thursday afternoon, upon a charge of driving a horse with a large sore on its back. Hartung was arraigned before Justice Connolly, and fined two dollars.

<August 20, 1910>

Redmond P. Keresey, a retired member of the New York’s finest, and now proprietor of a stock farm on the Post Road, neatly trapped a horse thief on Wednesday, and engineered a little game that resulted in the horse thief being caught red handed in trying to sell the goods, and his arrest in Rye territory by Mounted Patrolman Thomas Flaherty. The thief gave his name as Charles Gates, of New Haven. He said he came from Stamford and was anxious to sell the rig and would dispose of it very cheap. The man's actions and the low price he placed on the outfit aroused Mr. Keresey's suspicions… Gates, awaiting extradition papers from Connecticut, is now identified by the police of five different towns as the man wanted for horse stealing.

<August 27, 1910>

Much has been heard since the new law governing automobiles went into effect on August 1, respecting the rules of the road. These are covered by the highway law itself, and should be known to every driver of horses as well as vehicles propelled by power. With a full knowledge of the rules there need be few if any accidents occurring on the highways of the State. The important sections [include]:

Any such person so operating a motor vehicle shall, on overtaking any such horse, draft animal or other vehicle, pass on the left side thereof, and the rider or driver of such horse, draft animal or other vehicle shall, as soon as practical, turn to the right so as to allow free passage on the left.

<September 3, 1910>

Sheriff Scherp Tuesday turned over to the New Haven authorities Alfred Gates, a clever young horse thief, who was arrested in Rye two weeks ago and charged with the larceny of a horse and runabout from the Connecticut city. Gates, or Ridley, as he called himself when arrested, is only twenty-two years of age and the most plausible criminal ever taken in this county

His method was an unique one. Dressed in a suit of “store” clothes of the country village type and browned from exposure to the sun, he would drift into a village livery stable and explain that he had just arrived in town and wanted to drive out into the country. As soon as he had gotten to another town, he would hunt up the livery stable, explain that he was a farmer’s son, and asked the proprietor to lend him a fresh horse as his was “tuckered” out. He would keep on exchanging horses until he got several hundred miles from his starting point, where he would sell the particular outfit he was driving. As he has a splendid “down East” dialect and looks the part of a prosperous farmer’s son, he found his operations easy and only tripped up in Rye through the vigilance of R. P. Keresey, of the Rye Stork Farm, and the village police force.

<November 11, 1911>

News comes from Newport to the effect that the horse and smart equipage is again to be the sign of fashion. The automobile is all right for traveling, inasmuch as it can go about 10 times as far in a day as a horse; but it appears that the smart set have exhausted their ingenuity in trying to create a special automobile exclusiveness and are not satisfied with the result. Horses have been kept for style ever since the advent of the motorcar, and their race is in no danger of dying out, even as the dog’s is not in a land of burglar alarms and automatic revolvers.

<August 3, 1912>

Fred Fraser, the well-known wrestler, who is employed at the Apawamis Club, discovered that horses are contrary things and although they may know nothing about holds, etc., they can deliver a punch, and when its steel shoes are taken into consideration, something that persons are not anxious to stop. Well, Fred was inspecting a new set of shoes on a horse just brought from the blacksmith shop on Wednesday, when the horse kicked, striking him in the face, knocking out two teeth and injuring his face painfully. Fred says that that much damage wouldn’t happen in a life time wrestling.

<January 4, 1913>

The police are unable to make much headway against the thieves, and owners are becoming greatly concerned. Great vigilance is necessary against them. In former days, horse stealing was wiped out by posses who showed the offenders small mercy. Vigilantes are not feasible nowadays, but something must be done.

<January 14, 1914>

Within the past week Rye has had one of those unpleasant experiences that jar our civic pride when we discovered that we were not able to bring out all the fire apparatus to a blaze that might have proved more disastrous than it did. If Rye territory was more thickly settled, it is safe to say that more alarms would be rung in, and a recurrence of this lack of horses would soon force the citizens to take direct action. It would be foolish to deny that the day of the horse drawn tire engine is dawning to a close. It is being forced on Rye through the action of owners who claim that our smooth paved Streets are a menace to horses.

<July 23, 1919>

An hour after receiving a telephone call that three horse thieves were at large, Police Chief William Balls arrested them on Halstead Avenue.

<January 3, 1922>

The Board of Trustees of the Village of Rye will receive sealed bids for the sale of one horse drawn hook and ladder truck, one hose or patrol wagon and four complete sets of harness.

<March 27, 1926>

The death of George W. Galloway at his home. 75 Milton Road, on Sunday night, is mourned by many friends who knew him as a fine, country gentleman—one of the old school whose never-failing courtesy and kindness made him beloved by everyone. Mr. Galloway was one of the oldest commuters on the New Haven Railroad. Until taken ill early in January, he traveled back and forth to New York daily. Mr. Galloway’s love for animals was a conspicuous trait in his character. He was particularly fond of horses and drove to and from the railroad station every day. Although a man of ample means, he never owned an automobile, preferring to drive behind his horse.

<April 9, 1927>

Because his automobile was run into by a horse drawn truck at the recent fire on the Thomas property on Orchard Avenue, Frank M. Roberts, of Port Chester, seeks damages from the village to the amount of $140, alleging that the blowing of the siren on the motor apparatus frightened the horse. The Board could not see Mr. Roberts’ viewpoint and referred the matter to the Village Attorney.

<February 12, 1928>

Editor, Rye Chronicle: Rye Village has every right to be ashamed of its so-called better class neighborhoods, like the Apawamis Club districts in regard to the lack of shoveled sidewalks when the snow falls. The school children and adults who walk are forced to take their chances with skidding cars in the roadway. Our taxes have almost tripled in the last 12 years and it seems the least the Village could do is give us a safe place to walk in the bad, snowy weather, without endangering our lives by forcing us to walk with the heavy traffic of the street. When I first moved here there was a horse plow that plowed the sidewalks whenever it snowed. What has become of it? And can't we have a little comfort in the way of a place to walk for all the taxes and P. W. A. money we pay out. — A TAXPAYER OF ONE OF THE BETTER NEIGHBORHOODS

 

 

<The following letter was sent to the Rye City Council and forwarded to us for publication.>

The current model for the City of Rye Boat Basin is unsustainable and will leave taxpayers on the hook for a multi-million dollar cleanup and remediation bill if nothing changes.

The Boat Basin operates at a loss of approximately $280,000 to $300,000 each year, primarily due to so-called “non-cash” depreciation charges of approximately $400,000. Meanwhile, there are ongoing costs: regular dredging of Milton Harbor channel and repair and rebuilding of Boat Basin buildings, ramps, docks, and equipment that have been neglected for many, many years. We are now at the point where the facility requires significant expenditures to maintain it in a safe and effective manner. The cost of fixing the problem significantly exceeds the approximate $900,000 balance in the Boat Basin’s Enterprise Fund.

<<The facility is in need of major repairs.>> Supervisor George Hogben estimates repair costs for dock piling replacement at $215,000; repair cost for main dock ramp and covered atrium at $68,000; boat launch ramp extension at $120,000; main dock float replacements at $200,000; parking lot repair at $42,000. This list doesn’t include future repairs for the main office or maintenance shed. While some of these expenses can be deferred, many are overdue and safety will increasingly become an issue as the facility deteriorates.

<<We are behind the 8-ball on dredging.>>Milton Harbor requires ongoing maintenance dredging to keep the channel clear of debris that accumulates each year. A recent presentation to the Commission and the City Manager from consulting firm Coastline Consulting & Development estimated that a comprehensive dredging program to remove 94,000 cubic yards would cost several million dollars. A smaller, maintenance level of dredging to remove 25,000 cubic yards would cost closer to one million dollars but would need to be repeated the following season to try and “catch up” on the required dredging. The Army Corps of Engineers permits to dredge were allowed to expire in 2015. The permitting process will take approximately 15 months, meaning the earliest we could dredge is the spring of 2019. In short, we are behind the 8-ball on dredging.

What happens if we don’t dredge the channel? The larger boats that pay higher slip fees are now unable to get in and out of the Boat Basin at or near low tide. This situation will get worse. These boats will go elsewhere and the revenues will decline, causing the operating budget gap to widen.

<<Expenses have increased dramatically.>> In the meantime, the City has increased the primary expense consisting of employee wages and benefits over 30% in the past two years, from $238,000 in 2015 to $316,000 (estimated) in 2017.

<<If nothing is done, taxpayers will be on the hook.>> Realistically, it will cost several million dollars to fix the facility and the docks and dredge the channel. If the larger boats leave and the revenues shrink, the operation will sink under its own weight and the City of Rye taxpayer will be on the hook for a multi-million dollar dismantling and environmental cleanup of the Boat Basin, the docks, and surrounding property.

It’s time for the City of Rye to formulate a long-term plan for the continued operation of the Boat Basin. Do we really want to be the only municipality in the western Long Island Sound that cannot manage a successful marina, public or private?

— The Boat Basin Commission

Sincerely

Commissioners

 

Having won the race for City Council handily last week, you might imagine that the four winners would be putting up their feet or taking a well-earned vacation. In fact, according to Josh Cohn, the Mayor-elect, they are trying to review “everything” — in progress, prioritized, on hold, much discussed, or long planned — before they take office New Year’s Day.

“This is no small thing,” said Cohn earlier this week. “There are a tremendous number of things to do, probably more than we can do by the end of the year. We’re now spectators in the 2018 budget discussions, but we are all very much aware that our first and biggest task is finding non-property tax revenue sources and grant funds.” He added, “A million dollars a year for street repair, for example, is maintenance-only spending. The City needs to build more parking downtown for its businesses.”

Thinking even further ahead, Cohn offered the following assurance: “We’re going to be active and in it for the community, and come out of our four years with residents feeling that the Council has made positive progress on a number of important issues, such as residential development.

“Rye has an identity, a striving municipal identity, and I’d like to strengthen that identity.”

— Robin Jovanovich

 

The campaign season is made up of long days and bumpy nights, but once the election returns started pouring in after the polls closed on November 7, it was quickly apparent that the Democrats would have a very good Election Night.

State Senator George Latimer (D), who won reelection to a third term last November, decisively defeated incumbent Rob Astorino (R), who was running for a third term as Westchester County Executive. The unofficial tally was Latimer 121,467, Astorino 93,108.