BRONXVILLE, NY — February 9, 2021 — It is hard to believe we have weathered almost a year of the Covid pandemic though on some levels it feels like a lifetime. I thought I would share with you where Village government stands as a result of the unprecedented economic changes resulting from the pandemic though they frankly pale certainly in the loss of friends and neighbors. First on my mind of course is our former Deputy Mayor Glenn Bellitto who is still missed every day at Village Hall for his kindness, his infectious positivity and his enduring love for the Village. The following, though quite serious, certainly fall short compared to the loss of friends and family such as Glenn.
As to be expected, revenues are off significantly, especially in the area of parking which is the major revenue generator for the Village. Commuter permit sales dropped off precipitously and it is anticipated that parking permit revenue will be down approximately $350,000 or 35% for the fiscal year due to minimal commuter buyout sales for our Kensington Garage and Kraft and Parkway Road lots.
As background, we have 850 parking spaces in our lot array and offer a variety of permits for those spaces. They are rented in a variety of ways: designated 24 hour spaces for residents who do not have on-site parking at their home, apartment or condo; resident buyouts when residents purchase a permit for the year in lieu of feeding a meter; merchant buyouts and a number of smaller permits including overnight permits and those sold to the school district for Meadow Avenue parking, Villa BXV permits and NYP Lawrence Hospital permits.
To put in stark numbers, we normally sell over 1100 resident permits and 272 resident commuter buyouts. To date , we have sold 500 resident permits and 14 buyouts.
In an effort to help offset reduced commuter demand for buyout permits, we have offered and sold more 24 hour permits, issued winter parking permits for the garage and sold some temporary permits. We brainstorm daily on our parking allocations and ways in which we can improve both revenue but also respond to the demands of the new working normal.
Given the complete change in the parking paradigm in the Village, we will be sending out a survey shortly to assess your needs and opinions. Issues to be considered include; would a hybrid/shared two to three day permit for those Metro North users be desirable, or in order to recoup revenue, should the Village rent spaces to non-residents for very finite periods of time with definitive sunset provisions? We will be asking your feedback before crafting any new configuration.
On a positive note, our first of two mortgage tax payments was above last year’s number and on budget and the first sales tax payment was quite strong all things considered. Add to that, building permit revenues are on target along with our penalties, gross receipts and franchise taxes. In an effort to offset the reduced revenues, we are minimizing expenses where possible including the postponing of the hiring of 1.5 budgeted positions in the police department. We have also been using our full-time meter repair/ collector staff member and part-time parking enforcement officers to assist with crossing guard duties whenever possible.
We are over budget on some garage expenses due to some tank repairs and upgrades that were required to remain compliant with Westchester county guidelines.
In an unusual change of events, our medical insurance expenses should come in below budget this year and help to mildly offset our reduced revenues.
Due to Covid, we continue to rotate our staff and have about 1/3 of the employees working from home at any one time.
We continue to negotiate with our public works employees who are represented by the Teamster‘s union and we will perhaps go to non-binding mediation if helpful and agreed to by both parties.
At this time, $1.3 million in tax collection remains outstanding. As comparison, last year at this time we had $950,000 uncollected while in 2019 we had $1.5 million outstanding.
In other news affecting our bottom line, the Department of Public Works’ garage is expected to be completed its on-time date of August 2021. As to the aesthetics, we added red brick on the front bay columns to blend in with Village Hall, the Police Department and neighboring Normandy Terrace. Tan bricks will be added to the rear of the structure to soften its effects against the landscape facing Pondfield Road.
Additional planting will be added around the perimeter of the structure to camouflage as well. We tried to marry attractiveness and compatibility with surrounding structures with functionality and OSHA requirements, all while staying within our budget of $4.5 million.
The new building, not renovated since 1942, will have 9,500 square feet of storage space as well as 1000 square feet of office space, bathrooms, locker rooms and a lunch room.
Prior to the renovation, 90 percent of our equipment could not be stored indoors, reducing its usable life by one third.
Sanitary sewer repairs were recently completed along sections of Pondfield Road and Park Avenue. We have also just begun a comprehensive televising and cleaning of the lines throughout the Hilltop.
A new supply of our Village’s iconic wrought iron street signs has been ordered and will be installed in the upcoming weeks. We continue to chip away at capital projects as we listened to you, our residents, who directed us in the recent Comprehensive Plan survey to preserve the Village essentially the same in character but in good structural condition for future residents.