The Village of Rye Brook is in strong financial shape, Mayor Joan Feinstein assured residents during her State of the Village address given on Feb. 12.
The village had to cut back in some places to manage the state-mandated two percent tax cap implemented in 2011, but never materially reduced services, Feinstein said.
The unreserved fund balance is currently at about $3.5 million, which is 19 percent of the operating budget and last year’s tax levy increase was less than one percent.
Feinstein urged residents to get involved with this year’s budget process and attend the workshops held to discuss city programs and departments budgets.
While the village’s financial situation has been a paramount issue over the last five years that Feinstein has served as mayor, she felt the story of the year was Super Storm Sandy and other major weather events like the Feb. 8 blizzard.
Feinstein commended the Department of Public Works, Highway Department, parks personel, police, firefighters and others for keeping the village safe and cleaning the streets after the storm. During and after Sandy, 17 homes sustained significant damage, 30 roads were blocked; and toppled trees and poles and downed wires were pervasive. More than 80 percent of the village, about 3,000 homes, lost power during and after the storm.
“What we learned during the storm was a challenge of how to communicate with residents when land lines were not working,” Feinstein said. She urged residents to register for the Nixle emergency alert system. “ I hope we never go through a Super Storm Sandy again,” Feinstein said, adding that it was unlikely based on weather patterns.
Feinstein emphasized that the village was lucky that Sandy did not cause significant flooding, but that flood mitigation has been an important focus for the village board over the last several years.
She explained that the sluice gate project in conjunction with the City of Rye should be operating within one or two months. The sluice gate should play a significant role to help minimize flooding in souther Rye Brook and the Indian Village seciotn of Rye.
“We know it will not prevent all flooding, but it should help alleviate with smaller storms in the 2-3 inch range,” she said.
The mayor noted that flooding should be addressed at a regional level in order to truly deal with the widespread problem.
Feinstein also commended village staff on their work creating “floating zones” for affordable housing and mentioned the two affordable housing projects approved in 2012, one on Allendale Drive and another on Bowman Avenue. (Those projects have recently come under scruity, although Feinstein did not mention that in her report).
Additionally, Feinstien noted that the village will begin a project to move records to digital format this year; will build a parking lot at 37 Garibaldi Place, a lot they bought this year to accommodate community center parking; the new five year contract with the Port Chester fire department; the “do not knock” registry and an Rye Brook outdoor carnival to take place April 12-14 this spring.
Feinstein will not run for mayor in this spring's elections. Trustee Paul Rosenberg is running uncontested for mayor.
Watch the full state of the village address here.