NCVOA 2012 General Membership Meeting

 

                                                                  Tuesday, May 8, 2012- 7:00PM
                                                                        La Marmite Restaurant
                                                                           Williston Park, NY  

Guest Speaker

Nicholas Lizanich

                                                                                   LIPA 

Mr. Lizanich is the Vice President of Transmission and Distribution Operations for the Long Island Power Authority.  He is responsible for the oversight of the planning, engineering, design, operation, construction and maintenance of the transmission and distribution systems for LIPA, which serves 1.1 million customers on Long Island.  Prior to joining LIPA, Mr. Lizanich held a variety of key positions at other major utilities including First Energy where he served as the Vice President of Asset Oversight and Commonwealth Edison/Exelon, where he served as the Vice President of Engineering and Planning.  In addition to working directly for utilities for 30+ years in Energy Delivery, Mr. Lizanich was also Senior Vice President of Operations at Patrick Engineering for a number of years, where he developed the utility services practice for Patrick and led the Company’s engineering and consulting groups.  

Mr. Lizanich has a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering and a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering, both from Cleveland State University in Ohio.  He is also a registered Professional Engineer. 


  FROM THE PRESIDENTS’S DESK:  

 

Dear Mayors, Trustees and Friends:  

Throughout the years, I have been involved in many professional and civic endeavors.  One of the reasons I believe the NCVOA has endured for eight decades is the continued involvement of experienced mayors and trustees who remain active in our organization. I am particularly referring to our past presidents. In most organizations, an individual who completes a term as a president typically takes a back seat and becomes less active. That is not the case with the NCVOA. It is encouraging to see so many of our past leaders taking an ongoing interest in all we are trying to accomplish.  For example, several past presidents attended our April General Membership meeting, some to introduce recently elected trustees and others to demonstrate their unwavering support for the NCVOA. I would like to thank the following past presidents for participating in the April meeting: Vicki Siegel, Jack Williams, Nancy Zolezzi, Marvin Natiss, Ernie Strada (who also is a NYCOM past president), and Roger Fay, the dean of our past presidents.  Also, three former presidents continue to serve as Executive Committee members. They are Jim Altadonna, Steve Mahler and Marvin Natiss. Lastly and extremely importantly, former president Warren Tackenberg continues to serve us most ably and energetically as our Executive Director.

Great Neck Plaza Mayor Appointed to Executive Committee

I would like to extend my congratulations and best wishes to Jean Celender, mayor of the Village of Great Neck Plaza, for being named to the NCVOA Executive Committee. Jean replaces Diana Merenda, former mayor of the Village of Plandome Heights, who decided not to seek re-election in March. I also would like to publicly recognize and thank Diana for her service to our organization

Facts Tell the Story

Every day, I read an article about another member village whose board has taken the prudent action of voting to override the tax cap legislation. It makes me think of a statement once made by Abraham Lincoln: “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.” And the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan had a similar viewpoint. He said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

When referencing village government, the facts clearly demonstrate that a village is the most responsive and cost-effective vehicle for providing basic services that our residents need and want. For example, take my village. As the Village of Great Neck Board of Trustees and I prepared the 2012-2013 budget, I wanted to let our residents know the value they are receiving for their tax dollars. To illustrate, I explained the value of their Village General Fund taxes as follows:

Next year, the average monthly cost of Village tax for a residential homeowner will be $158, which is less than 15% of the resident’s total taxes. Most people pay more for just cable, internet and home telephone services. And, Village of Great Neck residents pay more in taxes for county police protection ($163).

For that $158 monthly contribution, the Village provides for each resident:

  •  Fire protection
  •  Ambulance service
  •  Road paving
  •  Road repairs
  •  Street plowing, sanding and salting
  •  Street sweeping
  • Garbage pickup and disposal
  • Recycling
  • Street lighting
  • Building inspections and safety
  • Tree trimming
  • Tree and stump removal and planting
  • Traffic signage
  • Parking and code enforcement
  • Court
  • Storm sewers
  • Fire hydrants
  • Zoning and review boards

The facts definitely tell the story.

Mark Your Calendars for Our Annual Dinner 

Remember to reserve Thursday, September 13, 2012 for the NCVOA Annual Dinner and Testimonial at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. We will be honoring our “Dynamic Duo” – Senator Jack Martins and Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel – for their continued efforts to champion legislation critical to local government.

Next General Membership Meetings

The May General Membership meeting will be on Tuesday, May 8 at 7 pm at La Marmite Restaurant in Williston Park. Nicholas Lizanich from the Long Island Power Authority will discuss LIPA’s Improved Storm Restoration Plans, an important topic to us all.

Also mark your calendars for our annual meeting and election and swearing in of officers on Thursday, June 28 at 7 pm at La Marmite.  Note that meeting will not be on the second Tuesday of June. Jeffrey Greenfield, Chair of the Nassau County Planning Commission, will speak on Planning Commission matters of interest to our villages.

Sincerely,
 
Ralph J. Kreitzman 

 
April Guest  Speaker:
                                                                                                                                                             

Our guest speaker for our April 9th general membership meeting was Barry Kluger, Inspector General of the Metropolitan Transit Authority. One thing was very apparent at the outset of Mr. Kluger’s remarks and presentation was that the MTA is a giant authority unlike any other in major metropolitan areas.

            Spanning 14 countries in downstate New York, the MTA has 66,000 employees with an operating budget of $10 billion dollars and a capital budget of $20 billion dollars over a 5 year span. Mr. Kluger was an excellent choice to be appointed Inspector General in 2007. He had served in the office of the Bronx County DA from 1975 until his appointment as MTA IG in 1989. The Bronx County District Attorney appointed him to be the Chief Assistant District Attorney, Chief of the Investigations Division, and Chief of the Arson Economic Crime Bureau.

            As IG, Mr. Kluger has broad statutory functions, powers and duties in;

 receiving and investigating complaints concerning alleged abuses, service deficiencies and other criminal issues relating  to the MTA.

            Initiating reviews of the operations of the MTA to identify areas in which performance might be impaired and recommending remedial action to be taken by the MTA.          To accomplish his mission, Mr. Kluger has a staff of 90 people which includes auditors and investigative attorneys with a department budget of $10 million dollars annually. In tracking fraud, waste and abuse, he believes he has achieved great success by working independently but co-operatively with other departments in the MTA.

            We wish Mr. Kluger continued success in his efforts to monitor the MTA and we thank him for taking time out from his busy schedule to address the NCVOA.
 

Defending Home Rule:

The follow letter is a response by Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro and NCVOA 1st Vice President to the writer of an article that appeared in the Long Island Business News regarding the SEQRA issue recommended by the LI Economic Planning Council.  

Dave: 

I read your article re the State desire to take over the SEQRA function for “regionally significant” projects, due to the perception that local resistance delays or prevents the progression of certain projects. 

As in the case of the tax cap, and many other State initiatives, the solution to a perceived problem is misplaced on the shoulders of local municipalities.  Local government, and village government in particular, happens to be the most responsive and cost effective level of government that we have in the state.  Yet, the State seeks continually to make our job harder and harder, by imposing state mandated costs, the 2% tax levy cap and a whole host of other requirements.  Instead of the State getting its own house in order, it looks to force on local governments impositions and mandates that local citizens often do not want. 

I took an informal poll of my residents on our village Facebook page on this proposal several months ago, when it first surfaced, and I received probably about 15 or 20 responses (the most responses I have received on any single item that I have posted).  Every respondent opposed allowing regional or state authorities to make decisions about local impacts.  How can the State or a regional panel make an informed decision on a project, in a quicker and more thorough manner than the local government can?  That is really a rhetorical question since the idea here is to really do a less than thorough job simply to get these projects passed and built.  The state (and the LIA representing the local business community) wants this to stimulate jobs and economic activity, which is surely needed.  Yet, they want to do so at the expense of the local control and knowledge that has ensured that the quality of life, and sense of community, in local communities.  In reality, local control only slows and moderates growth and change, it does not stop it.  But, for a state government that needs to fuel increased spending by more sales and other taxes and fees, this is a way to do so.  The vast majority of projects that are proposed pass through the SEQRA process without delay and without change.  It is only those truly large and impactful projects that are affected.  And, should that not be the case?  SEQRA was meant to thoroughly analyze and mitigate impactful projects, so I am not sure why anyone has a problem when that is what occurs.  The answer seems to be that certain segments of our political and business communities would rather not be burdened by local concerns when it comes to these projects, which they perceive as being beneficial, even with known and serious negative impacts considered.  

It seems ironic that Hofstra President Rabinowitz, who is pushing for this change, rightfully opposed the casino proposal for the Nassau Coliseum site because it impacted his local college environment in a way that thought would be negative.  Yet, he seeks to eliminate that kind of input and decision-making on villages and other localities?  He would deprive the local communities on Long Island the same right to object due to local conditions and concerns that he utilized in that case.   

The bottom line is that municipalities that are open to ideas like smart growth, economic development and the (and there are plenty of them - Westbury, Patchogue, Mineola, Glen Cove and many more, will act reasonably and garner the support of their residents to move projects forward.  They will use the SEQRA process to make developers (who always look to maximize their proposals) right-size their projects, and alter them to make them more palatable to as many people as possible. 

The State move to assume SEQRA responsibility is yet one more attempt to weaken local control so that the politicians in Albany can have the state mirror their way of thinking, and feed their need to raise more and more revenue.  That is wrong, and the antithesis of what our governmental system should be all about.  Let the proponents of project go to the localities, plead their case, make concessions and do what needs to be done to mitigate impacts.  Who knows better what these impacts are than the local citizenry?  No one, but that is what the proponents of this measure are counting on. 

I have a better idea to encourage local communities to embrace these kinds of regionally significant and impactful projects.  Have the state authorize counties and towns to spread the real property tax benefits of a large project among all affected communities, so that the benefits and burdens of a project are shared.  If communities perceived tangible benefits of a project, support for it would be more readily garnered, and opposition more easily outweighed.  This kind of “taxpayer equity” would be a great tool for developers. Planners and others to more readily make the case that a project is more beneficial than detrimental.  It would allow that this kind of financial sharing be a part of the SEQRA mitigation that is derived at by the dialogue that would still take place on a local level.  Instead of taking SEQRA authority away from local communities and denying them their rightful say in how and to what extent these projects are done, the state should create incentives and platforms, like taxpayer equity, that local communities can use to build local support for right-sized projects. 

Peter Cavallaro

Mayor, Village of Westbury and

First Vice President of the Nassau County Villager Officials’ Association   


ASSESSMENT COMMITTEE – REVITALIZED

The NCVOA Assessment Committee went into a short hiatus when  a former county assessor was relieved of his duties. However, a new issue has surfaced that now warrants its attention.  

Villages that utilized a fractional assessment were stunned when that received their final Residential Assessment Ratio (RAR) from the State Office of Real Property Services (ORPS). A few years ago ORPS changed the method by which it computed the RAR, by no longer using actual residential sales and instead, utilizing a comparison of assessed value of residential property in the village on the county assessment roll, applying a county market value ratio and then dividing that county market value by the village assessed value.The tentative RAR mailed in December used a county market value ratio of .25. The final RAR mailed on February 27th (a week after grievance night) used a County market ratio of .23, thus creating an RAR of 8% less.
 

Trustee Hillary Becker of Lynbrook has been appointed by President Kreitzman as its Chairperson, Also on the committee is Mayor David Tanner, NVCOA 2nd VP; Trustee Steve Corte of Westbury, Village Assessors of East Rockaway and Floral Park, Tom Donato ,Gay Taffel and NCVOA Counsel Gary Fishberg  Any village official interested in joining this committee should email the NCVOA executive director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .. 


                                                                 April 2012 Meeting Attendees:

 

Barry Kluger, MTA Inspector General and the evening’s guest speaker, posed for a photo with NCVOA officials Jean Celender, mayor, Village of Great Neck Plaza and newly appointed member of the NCVOA Executive Committee; Ralph Kreitzman, mayor, Village of Great Neck and NCVOA president; David Tanner, mayor, Village of East Williston and NCVOA 2nd vice president; and Peter Cavallaro, mayor, Village of Westbury and NCVOA 1st vice president.

 

Michael Sweeney (l), chief investigator, MTA Office of the Inspector General, and Barry Kluger, MTA Inspector General, discuss some of the MTA’s investigative procedures with David Tanner, mayor, Village of East Williston and NCVOA 2nd vice president.

Village of Oyster Bay Cove Trustees Richard MacDougall and Charles Goulding

 

Nancy Zolezzi, former mayor, Village of East Williston and NCVOA past president, introduces newly elected East Williston trustee Chris Siciliano to the members.

 

 

Ernie Strada, former mayor, Village of Westbury and NCVOA and NYCOM past president, and Peter Cavallaro, mayor, Village of Westbury and NCVOA 1st vice president, congratulate Jean Celender, mayor, Village of Great Neck Plaza on her appointment to the NCVOA Executive Committee.

 

Dennis Sgambati, deputy mayor, Village of North Hills and Doug Watson, mayor, Village of Bayville had an opportunity to catch up with each other during the cocktail reception.

– North Hills Trustee Gail Cohen and Mayor and NCVOA Past President Marvin Natiss

Henry Conyers, deputy mayor, Village of Hempstead; Tony Rosario, trustee, Village of Hempstead; and Bill Wise, trustee, Village of Westbury spend some time together.

 

Patricia Christiansen, deputy mayor, Village of Farmingdale introduced Tom Ryan, newly elected trustee, to the members.

Peter Cavallaro, mayor, Village of Westbury and NCVOA 1st vice president; Don Brudie, mayor, Village of Garden City; and Ralph Kreitzman, mayor, Village of Great Neck and NCVOA president share a light moment prior to the meeting.

 

Butch Starkie, who recently completed his tenure as mayor of the Village of Farmingdale, passed the gavel to former trustee Ralph Ekstrand, who was elected mayor in March.

 

Brian Harty, village clerk, Village of Farmingdale, gets an Albany update from John Kiernan, NCVOA Albany lobbyist.

The Last Word:

Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be.
                                    Sydney J. Harris