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A cold front passed through Scarsdale the night before Earth Day April 22, but the cloudy, rainy weather gave way to bright sunshine. Perhaps Mother Nature sensed that a big, warm collective hug was about to take place. Large numbers of children, parents and empty nesters emerged from their self-imposed confinement, chunks of chalk in hand, to write messages of thanks on driveways in appreciation for the village’s police, professional firefighters and essential village service workers.

Using the #scarsdaleheroes, it became a movement to teach children to recognize the efforts of others and you could see the outpouring of gratitude all over town.

The spontaneous show of gratitude was a response to the ongoing dedication of those who are putting their own lives at risk on behalf of all of us.

But it also was meant, we heard, to counter a petition circulating this week by the Voters Choice Party (VCP). The petition is advocating for lower taxes and $2 million in cuts to the village budget for 2020-21.

Under normal circumstances, the village budget would be in place by now.  But the novel coronavirus has created a novel situation indeed, and the budget is being closely scrutinized in light of the COVID-19 crisis and what looks to be a devastating impact on the local economy.

About $1.5 million of the $2 million in village expenditures in the budget proposal questioned by the VCP is for retroactive and future salary raises and overtime pay for professional firefighters, police and water department personnel.

With more and more Americans, including Scarsdale residents, losing jobs or facing salary reductions, shared sacrifice is the reasoning behind the VCP’s proposal, which has not yet received a response from village trustees.

Obviously, this is no time to raise taxes, but police, professional firefighters and others who provide essential village services should not be asked to sacrifice nor ration overtime. Similarly, Scarsdale’s volunteer firefighters shouldn’t have to respond or replace the professional cohort any more than they already do, and probably they cannot guarantee they would be available, should a major fire break out.

Ironically, the petition began to circulate just a day before New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed the federal government should provide hazard pay — a 50% bonus — to essential public workers on the front lines amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We couldn’t agree more.

All of us should take chalk in hand to show support to Scarsdale’s first responders and essential service workers who show up every day and put their lives at risk.

We don’t live in a dense city where we can share a collective clap at 7 p.m. every evening. But we do have driveways and sidewalks that can be canvasses for chalking.

And as proof that it matters to those on the receiving end, consider the message from Scarsdale Chief of Police Andrew Matturro, speaking on behalf of his department, who said, “All members of the Scarsdale Police Department can’t thank the community enough for the continuing support and outpouring of well wishes during these extraordinary times, especially when everyone is doing their part to stem this pandemic and making sacrifices. Makes us proud to serve our residents.”

We still need you

Many thanks to the 161 individuals and families who made generous donations to The Scarsdale Inquirer, through the COVID-19 Local News Fund as we went to press. The Inquirer needs your help due to a steep decline in advertising revenue caused by the COVID-19 crisis, which has forced businesses to close or to operate on a limited basis. We partnered with the nonprofit Local Media Foundation, which enables us to accept tax-deductible donations. To contribute, please go to givebutter.com/scarsdaleinquirer.

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