Here is a look at what happened at the Sleepy Hollow Board of Trustees Work Session Sept 20.
Joint Community Television Channel
The meeting began with a presentation by a joint Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow committee formed to establish a Community Television Channel and studio. Representing Tarrytown are Dean Galley, Bob Kimmel and Trustee Robert Hoyt. Committee members from Sleepy Hollow are James West, and trustees Bruce Campbell and Barbara Carr.
There is currently an education channel produced by the school system. Each village has its own government channel, but there is no public channel where programming about community events is aired.
“This would be a cooperative effort by the two villages, something we see too rarely,” said Campbell. “Neither village could afford to do this alone.”
The committee is proposing that the new broadcast/production studio be located in the former Tarrytown Police station and be funded by both villages with PEG grants (Public Education Government) plus franchise fees paid by cable providers to the villages as cost of doing business here.
Initial funding includes $113,250 in PEG grants ($83,250 Tarrytown; $60,000 Sleepy Hollow) and $38,000 unrestricted funds ($28,980 Tarrytown; $10,000 Sleepy Hollow).
The committee is reviewing six proposals from individuals for the position of station manager and expects to make a decision in October or November. According to the timeline presented last night, the channel could be on the air as early as January or February, 2012.
Mayor Ken Wray urged the committee to determine what it the project will cost through the end of May when budget decisions would need to be made to keep the channel on the air.
Trustee David Schroedel asked if the committee had considered the impact and cost of the Tarrytown lawsuit against Sleepy Hollow regarding the GM site development on the project. “What both villages will need to spend in legal fees could fund this good endeavor many times over.”
Hoyt said he would not comment on ongoing litigation.
The Warner Library Board of Trustees participated in a presentation designed to educate the Sleepy Hollow Board on the many services the library provides to the community.
“We are a vital community center and we do a lot more than lend people books,” said Carin Rubensteinin, Warner Library Board chair.
Library Director Maureen Petry said the library programming falls into two categories: needs based and cultural enrichment. Services include GED preparation, senior benefits such as help with medicare and efiling of taxes, basic computer help and increasingly, help with job searches. Culture activities include concerts, author visits, playwriting and poetry workshops.
Presentations were also made about the services offered in the children’s room, the teen room and the literacy program.
“We could not continue to offer literacy services for learners of English without the library,” said library Trustee Nelson Correa, president of the Literacy Volunteers of the Tarrytowns. Correa said that 85 literacy volunteers provide one-on-one instruction to 40 to 60 students per week, amounting to 1,800-2,000 hours of instruction per year.
Rubenstein said the Warner library costs residents $68 per resident per year, compared to $88 per resident in the other Westchester communities, but that no taxpayer dollars go to support the programming which is funded by grants and donations. Her comment prompted trustee Campbell to ask “so where does our money go?”
Sleepy Hollow contributes approximately $700,000 annually to the library. Tarrytown provides approximately $800,000. “This money goes primarily for salaries and upkeep of the building,” said Rubenstein.
“There has never been a suggestion that the library shouldn’t receive the support Sleepy Hollow,” said Schroedel. “You are the victim of a flawed IMA (intermunicipal agreement),” referring to the fact that the IMA between Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown provides for a 5 percent annual pay increase under certain circumstances for the library staff who are unionized employees of Tarrytown.
“No one else is getting a five percent raise,” said Schroedel.
Petry said the library recognizes the financial constraints facing the village and that it would work with the village to solve funding issues.
Property Tax Reduction for Seniors
Property assessor Fred Gross updated the board on the village’s long-standing policy of offering a property tax reduction to eligible seniors.
For seniors with an income of less than $29,000, the reduction could be as much as 50 percent. The reduction goes up or down in 5-percent increments depending on income. Seniors whose income exceeds $37,400 are not eligible for the discount.
Last year 29 seniors qualified for the program resulting in a $44,000 tax loss for the village. This year 26 seniors are expected to qualify.
Updating the Village Code
Village Attorney Janet Gondolfo is working with department heads to review and update the village code which is “woefully out of date.” Obsolete codes such as the dog warden are being deleted because the village now depends on Greenburgh’s animal control services.
“There are also several big considerations that will need the input of the board such as what to do with the Architecture Review Board,” said Gondolfo.
Gondolfo also pointed out the village code does not currently allow tattoo parlors, something the Tarrytown Board is working on.