IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RUN A VILLAGE
The Sea Cliff Village Board held its annual administrative meeting this past April 6th and at the meeting two new trustees, Elena Villafane and Kevin McGilloway were sworn in as new Trustees, replacing Peter Hayes and Tom Powell, each of whom did not seek re-election. Both Mr. Hayes and Mr. Powell spoke briefly, offering thanks to the current board and the community for having had the opportunity to serve. Mr. Hayes commented "it takes a village to run a village." The dozens of community members who were sworn in on Monday to serve on the many village committees and boards, as well as those appointed to the many Village Administrative positions were testament to the truth of the statement.
Also at the meeting, Mayor Bruce Kennedy offered his thoughts on issues confronting the Village, as well as his thanks to those who have served Sea Cliff in his State of the Village address. See Right.
MAYOR BRUCE KENNEDY'S STATE OF THE VILLAGE ADDRESS, APRIL 7, 2014
Board of Trustees, Appointees, Volunteers and fellow residents; thank you for your attendance this evening for the 2014 Village of Sea Cliff Annual Meeting. It is my pleasure and honor to present the State of the Village Address. This has been another good year for our Village. Despite still being in the grips of difficult financial times we once again have proven that government can continue to offer all vital services while being extremely financially responsible.
Since 2009, the Village has maintained a virtually flat year to year budget without resident service cuts – in fact the Village offers more to the residents today than we did 5-years ago. The New York State Comptroller’s office has recently adopted an evaluation system of measuring and reporting the fiscal health of local governments. Sea Cliff scored in the top 1% of all the 535 village governments across New York State. Last year, Standard & Poor’s upgraded our Village Bond Rating to a AA+ and after an additional review last week, they renewed this exceptional rating.
We have heard a lot in the past couple of years from our Governor that he wants to decrease the property tax burden that we on Long Island have to shoulder and the Board of Trustees and I strongly support Governor Cuomo in this effort. However, the Governor needs to take a hard look at what is driving costs and in turn property taxes. While facing mandated costs such as state pensions, health insurance, and workman’s compensation which annually grow at double digit rates in the face of decreasing state funding; it is no great mystery why property taxes on Long Island are so high. Local government cannot cap costs that they cannot control. Fixing this dilemma is going to take a lot of teamwork between the state - local governments – and school districts but I am confident that overall property tax relief is an achievable goal. We have proved it here in Sea Cliff.
We have seen some changes in personnel at Village Hall this past year. Our Community Development Director, Kathleen Van Bloom, as well as our Section 8 Administrator, Lenny Kaplan, have retired. We will miss both Kathleen and Lenny; we thank them for their years of service and wish them the best in their well deserved retirement years. In an effort to create greater synergies in the staff, both of those part-time positions have been combined as well as the responsibility of grant writing into one new full time position which has been filled by resident Erin McDonnell. Erin is off to a great start and has already proven herself as a tremendous asset to the Village. Erin, on behalf of all of us, welcome to the team.
The Fire Department held its election last week and I am proud to announce the appointment of Ernie “Bullet” Longobucco as the Chief, Mark Vitale as the 1st Assistant Chief, and Michael Hallquest as the 2nd Assistant Chief. Our gratitude is extended to Chief Danny Whittemore for his leadership in guiding the Fire Services for the past two years.
This was a tough winter with extreme cold temperatures and record snowfall amounts. Our Department of Public Works staff once again proved their dedication to the job. Despite very difficult conditions, these men were out countless hours, both day and night, to ensure the safety of our residents. How about a round of applause for these often underappreciated gentlemen? Now that spring is apparently here, it is time to start our roadwork, cleaning the parks & walkways, and other seasonal work in preparation of baseball and beach season. Our DPW staff is coordinating with the beach staff in preparation for another incredible summer. The food vendor has been selected, lifeguards are being hired, and talent is being scheduled for the Friday Night Concert Series at the Beach Arts Gazebo.
Our Senior Outreach Worker, Karen Montagnese, continues her good work in identifying and addressing the needs of our Senior Citizens. Karen has also been collaborating with our other committees and volunteer groups to further enhance the lifestyles of all our residents. Karen developed a Senior Survey which has been well received that helps us to be of greater serve to our seniors. If you are or know a senior that has not completed the survey, please fill it out so you can get the benefits that our Senior Services offer.
A couple of years back we made additional property tax relief available to our senior citizens and this year we will be putting forth legislation that will offer similar relief to the often forgotten champions of our community – our Veterans. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our veterans for their selfless sacrifices and service to our nation. Will the veterans in the room please rise so that we can recognize you.
So often people think things “just happen” but we all know that nothing good happens without the initiation of citizens that are working for the betterment of their community. Sometimes these people are your elected officials. Carol Vogt, my Deputy Mayor, is one of those people. She is a hardworking humble woman who spends countless hours crossing the “T’s” and dotting the “I’s”, meeting with committees and staff to ensure that everything works out seamlessly. Edward Lieberman is another one of these people. In his freshman year as Trustee, he spearheaded three new events that brings the community together, promotes our downtown, and rally’s together our volunteer organizations. I believe that public service is its own reward; but it is important to acknowledge the successes of our elected officials. Pete Hayes and Tom Powell have successfully served our Village as Trustees for the past four years and we thank them for the benefits we enjoy because of their work. I would like to welcome Elena Villafane and Kevin McGilloway to the Board. These two fine individuals bring incredible knowledge and talent to the Board and will help raise Sea Cliff to even greater heights.
Sea Cliff’s property values continue to inch higher, our business community and restaurants are buzzing, our arts community is alive and vibrant, our environment is cleaner, and the outlook is bright! While the upcoming year will present challenges, the outlook for the Village is excellent. We will be holding our budget hearing for fiscal year 2014-2015 within the next few weeks and despite incredible increases in healthcare, pension and insurance costs; my proposed budget keeps a lid on spending.
It is an honor to serve as your Mayor and to work with the Board of Trustees, all the appointed Board Members, our Fire Chiefs, the entire Village staff, the countless committees and volunteers, and all the residents that work so hard and selflessly to reassure the quality of life we have come to enjoy.
Sea Cliff continues to be the quintessential community and the Board of Trustees and I are proud to be your representatives and advocates.