I agree with Howard Hirsch that good neighbors can disagree and still respect the other’s point of view. However, when arguing their side they should also not mischaracterize what their neighbor said or conjure up alternative facts to support their argument. For that reason, I take issue with Mr. Hirsch’s letter in the Inquirer [“Viable strategy needed for both sides in incorporation issue,” June 28].
To start off, my analysis assumed the village of Edgemont would want to purchase the police from the town of Greenburgh and possibly also other services such as highway and maybe sanitation. However, the EIC has made it clear they do not want to purchase any of these services at the price they are paying now. Right now, services of unincorporated Greenburgh are primarily paid through property taxes. Property tax is a progressive tax where a resident with a higher property value pays more for the same services as a resident with a lower property value. The higher property values tend to be in the more affluent sections of the town with the average property value in Edgemont being significantly higher than the balance of unincorporated Greenburgh.
What the incorporation folks want to do is purchase these same services on what works out to be a cost plus basis, lowering the expense to the affluent people of Edgemont without any corresponding savings to the residents in the remainder of Town. That’s great for the village of Edgemont, but that leaves the less affluent portions of Town with either a significant tax increase or cut in services. But wait. It gets worse.
The saving from applying a cost plus approach to buying Greenburgh services was not enough to fund the additional overhead and increased debt service that would be caused by the creation of the village of Edgemont. Their answer to that problem is to cherry-pick which services they would buy from Greenburgh. As a result, their plan is to opt out of parks and rec and Theodore Young Community Center, leaving both budgets with more than a 25% loss in tax revenue with no corresponding cost savings. This will mean cuts in programs for two departments that are critically important to the health and welfare of the community.
Mr. Hirsch addresses the issue of Theodore Young by implying the center’s shortfall could be repaired by simply moving that budget to the townwide rather than the unincorported budget. This would require the villages to contribute to Theodore Young. Unfortunately for Mr. Hirsch, this would quickly end up in litigation brought by the villages. This issue was decided before and the court ruled that Theodore Young is a recreation center, that the villages have their own recreation centers, and therefore the villages should not be required to support the center. Interestingly, the EIC did not even budget what would be Edgemont village’s share of that cost if Mr. Hirsch’s suggestion could be implemented.
Yes, good neighbors should be neighborly and stick to the facts. If Edgemont does not care what happens to the rest of Greenburgh that is their right. But pretending that the incorporation of Edgemont will not have significant negative impact on our less affluent neighbors is simply not true.