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.

HUGH SCHWARTZ

Sherwood Place

(3) comments

HughSchwartz

Howard, My letter neither cherry-picked anything or had anything to do with the "sky is falling". It was simply a response to your letter asserting that my analysis assumed the village of Edgemont would not purchase services from the Town of Greenburgh. As I pointed out, your assertion was not true. My analysis assumed that the village of Edgemont would purchase selected services from the Town including the police at a rate consistent with the budget presented by the EIC in their report. It also assumed that the village of Edgemont would not contract the services of Parks and Rec or Theodore Young - again consistent with the EIC plan. The rest is not "the sky is falling". It is simple math. You cannot add another layer of government, millions of dollars in new debt then attempt to pay for it by demanding the Town provide you with the same level of service you have now, but at a vastly lower cost and also decide not to contract for services that you feel are of more benefit to the less affluent parts of Town than Edgemont (re: Theodore Young and Veteran Park) and claim there will not be a significant negative financial impact on the remaining part of Unincorporated Greenburgh. That is just dishonest. As for contingency plans, they are generally set up to mitigate the impact of a future event. The first example in the Oxford dictionary is contingency plans to deal with oil spills. Just because you have a contingency plan ( and I agree the Town should have one) does not mean there will not be damage done. There are contingency plans for Hurricanes. But, they still do significant and, in many cases, permanent damage. In this case, the math is clear. The remainder of Unincorporated Greenburgh would have to experience a raise in taxes, reduced services or both If Edgemont incorporates. It is not the "sky is falling" it is just fact. Live with it. Own it, and if you don't care, push forward with incorporation. As to blocking the vote. It was the NY State Court system who affirmed that the first petition did not comply with the law. So, the only one to blame for "blocking the vote" was the EIC who failed to follow the law when filing the petition...A poor carpenter blames his tools!

HughSchwartz

Howard, I did not cherry-pick anything. I merely pointed out that your letter was incorrect in saying that my analysis assumed the village of Edgemont would not want to purchase any services from the Town of Greenburgh. Your assertion was simply not true. My letter was based on what the EIC budgeted for services in their proposal and also what services they had no interest in purchasing ( parks and rec as well as Theodore Young). It has nothing to do with the "sky is falling" as you put it. It is a mathematical analysis using the numbers provided by the EIC. The numbers are what they are. You can't, add a layer of government, attempt to pay for it by paying less for services you receive from the Town while expecting the same level of service, and completely refuse to pay for services that appear to be of more benefit to the less affluent parts of Town than Edgemont without there being a significant negative impact on the remainder of Unincorporated Greenburgh. It really is just math.

hhirsch

Hugh can cherry pick all you want and addressed everything but the onus of my letter. Where is the town's contingency plan? Instead of rehashing, I'll just repeat my closing paragraph "Change is hard, there are no quick fixes, setbacks often occur and it takes effort to get back on track. I truly hope our town board will grasp this notion and do what’s right for all Greenburgh residents once and for all. In my opinion the “sky is falling” message is being used to absolve the town from doing the hard work and place the blame of its failures elsewhere (Edgemont). After more than three years, is blocking a vote still the best viable strategy available to the town?"

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.