SCARSDALE, N.Y. Scarsdale voters will go to the polls Tuesday, March 20, to fill three Scarsdale Village Board of Trustees seats . The Daily Scarsdale sent five questions to each of the four candidates and will run their responses over the next three days. Here are the responses from incumbents Kay Eisenman and Jonathan Mark, who chose to co-author their written responses and not reveal their personal opinions.
Eisenman and Mark written introduction: The Board of Trustees acts as a body and is not governed by the views of any one board member and any individual point of view expressed is not necessarily indicative of where the board will come out on an issue. We therefore offer the following responses based on what has been publicly discussed and the actions taken (or not taken) to date by the entire board, or recommendations made by board committees, at public meetings.
The Daily Scarsdale : The new Board of Trustees will have to approve the 2012-13 budget. Where do you stand on passing a budget that exceeds the 2 percent tax levy cap?
Eisenman and Mark written response: In approaching the budget, the board has made an effort to balance the desire to keep taxes as low as possible while at the same time making provisions for budgeting sufficient funds to satisfy the operational and capital needs of the village at the levels residents expect. Significant budget expenses are the mandated contributions the village must make to N.Y. state's pension system. These are increasing costs that the village does not control. Village operational and capital needs must necessarily be in addition to the state mandated expenses. The board's budget analysis has been driven by these factors. While the board focused on the cap, it did not view the cap in isolation, but rather as another factor in its overall budget analysis. What the present budget proposal reflects is an indication that if running and maintaining the village requires a responsibly constructed budget that exceeds the 2 percent tax cap levy, the fact that it could exceed the cap would not be a reason for the board to reject it. We note that the board's work on the budget is not concluded and that there still remain several public sessions at which the budget will be discussed, and at which residents can and should express their views on this subject.
TDS: There are mixed feelings in the village about the possibility of a roundabout at the Five Corners. Where to you stand on that?
Eisenman and Mark written response: The board is aware of mixed feelings in the community about the roundabout proposal. This matter has been the subject of a consultant's study that was presented to the board at a public hearing. Residents expressed various opinions about the proposal at that time and the board listened. However, currently the village has other, more immediate needs some of which we note below. As a result, we do not presently foresee any board action on the roundabout occurring. In addition, in the present economic environment there is no money to fund it. We note that the roundabout is included in the village's long-term capital plan, and the staff regularly seeks grants to contribute to the costs of capital projects. If at some future point, a grant were to be available, the Board would return to the subject of the roundabout and residents would have additional opportunities to express their views about its efficacy.
TDS: Sanitary sewers, flooding, deteriorating roads...Scarsdale has several infrastructure issues. How would you prioritize the issues, and would you prefer to see more or less money in the budget for each item?
Eisenman and Mark written response: The presently proposed budget recognizes that all of these items are important and substantial funds have been budgeted for them. We believe it is fair to say that we wish more money could be budgeted for each of these items, as well as for the replacing of out of date equipment. Unfortunately, due to the current economic climate, the board has had to be sensitive to the limits of what can be done without imposing an even greater tax burden on residents than the one presently reflected in the budget proposal.
TDS: What do you think is the most important issue facing the board in the coming year or two?
Eisenman and Mark written response: Experience tells us that there is no one issue there are several. They include: the budget, storm water management and completing the long overdue village-wide revaluation, among others.
TDS: While Scarsdale's non-partisan system of government at its core has not come under attack this year, the secrecy that surrounds the choice of candidates and the lack of candidate choices on the ballots have caused some controversy. Would you support any changes that would bring more transparency to the system, including but not limited to nominating multiple candidates and publicly debating issues.
Eisenman and Mark written response: We note that this is not an issue the village trustees have any control over as the non-partisan system is overseen by an entirely separate body. There is no limit on the number of candidates who can go on the ballot. Anyone who wants to run is able to do so by petition. As we believe this issue is not a part of a village trustee's mandate, we leave the larger question to those who wish to debate it.
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