Issuu on Google+ Vol. 13/Number 2 Police patrol town schools January 11, 2013 Former county exec O’Rourke dies at 79 By CHRISTIAN FALCONE ASSOCIATE EDITOR Harrison High School By DANIEL OFFNER STAFF REPORTER Police will remain present in the Harrison Central School District after a man in the neighboring Village of Mamaroneck attempted to bring a firearm onto school property last week. The incident quickly reignited worry among parents in the Sound Shore area, who are still trying to cope with the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn. Police have been patrolling school property in Harrison ever since. On Jan. 3, at a meeting of the Harrison Town Council, parents and residents confronted town officials regarding school safety procedures and requested the addition of a school resource officer. Harrison Police Chief Anthony Marraccini explained that over the past few weeks, the issue of securing schools has consumed members of the police department, who have been working to find a solution to protect Harrison school children without the use of heavily armed officers. “We don’t want police officers walking around our schools with assault rifles,” Marraccini said. “This is not something that will be solved tonight…it takes time.” According to Marraccini, placing armed patrol officers in the schools may provide a comforting feeling for parents in the community but should not be considered a longterm solution. “The last thing I want anyone here to leave with is a false sense of security,” he said. Although the Town Council authorized maintaining a police presence in each of the six public schools in the district, the patrols have only been authorized temporarily. Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont, a Republican, said he will continue to meet with school and police officials in order to create a solution to school safety and security concerns without disrupting the town’s finances. “The [town’s] financial situation should not be involved,” said Belmont. “But unfortunately, it is.” Due to budgetary constraints, the council has not been able to appropriate the necessary funding to restore the police department’s youth programs through the additional hire of a new school resource officer. However, with the addition of three new civilian dispatchers, the police anticipate to free up additional manpower as early as February. Harrison Central School District Superintendent Louis Wool said that despite a recent review of school security protocol last November, the district intends to complete another external security audit. “We are sharing that most recent review with our police department and are seeking their input and their expertise,” Wool said in a corPOLICE continued on page 6 Andrew O’Rourke will surely be remembered for his unforgettable sense of humor, but more importantly, for how he changed the face of Westchester. The former county executive passed away last week. He was 79. O’Rourke’s passing has sparked countless tales of his charm, wit and endearing personality, but those who knew him best say nothing epitomizes him more than when he tried to unseat then-Gov. Mario Cuomo, a Democrat, in the 1986 gubernatorial race, in what pundits described as a David versus Goliath contest. Early on in the 1986 campaign, Cuomo had refused to debate Former County Executive Andrew O’Rourke in an undated photo. O’Rourke, who passed away last week, held the position for 15 years before stepping down. Contributed photo O’Rourke, the Republican nominee. Seizing the moment as best he could, O’Rourke–always the comedian–had a cardboard cutout of the governor made and, in turn, publicly debated the prop–carrying it around virtually everywhere he went. Now 26 years later, in an interview on New Rochelle’s WVOX Radio, Cuomo reflected on the former county executive. “I really do think he is, was and always will be a heroic figure because he was such a powerful coming together of good things,” Cuomo said. “His intelligence. His vision. His sense of humor. His sense of fairness made all the political labels meaningless. He was a wonderful public servant because he was a wonderful human being.” O’ROURKE continued on page 14 Town municipal manager talk still elusive By DANIEL OFFNER STAFF REPORTER Shortly after his inauguration last January, Mayor Ron Belmont told The Harrison Report of the town’s plan to explore the possibility of creating a full-time municipal manager position before his first year in office came to a close. But after a year in office, no proposal has come forth. Creating a municipal manager position would spurn a monumental alteration to the current functions of town government and would diminish several duties of the town’s mayor. The goal of the position would be to have a business manager in order streamline government functions through what is supposed to be a non-political position. With a manager, the mayor’s salary could be significantly reduced. However, in order for Harrison to alter the current structure of government in a manner that emulates neighboring communities that have a managerial position already in place, a voter referendum would be required, leaving it up to the residents to decide whether or not a municipal manager would be a good fit. Belmont did not return calls seeking comment for this article, but previously stated he thought the job would be much sought after. “We’re a town that, if we do go this route, I’m sure we could get the cream of the crop,” Belmont, a Republican, told The Harrison Report last January, adding that they may be able to net a sitting manager who MANAGER continued on page 7 Harrison to pay 5.7% more in county taxes By DANIEL OFFNER STAFF REPORTER Earlier this month, Westchester County officials adopted a $1.7 billion budget that will levy $548 million in property taxes–a 2 percent reduction from 2010 that has kept taxes flat over the last couple of years. But because municipalities’ assessment rolls differs from community to community, property values don’t increase and decrease uniformly each year. According to recent estimates provided by the Westchester County Tax Commission, residents in the Town/ Village of Harrison can expect their share of the tax levied by the county to increase by approximately 5.73 percent this year. While it is a function of local government to levy taxes based on the assessed value of individual properties, the amount of real property tax is calculated through a state equalization rate that ensures county taxes are apportioned fairly among municipalities. The equalization rate accounts not only for municipal assessment, but real estate, physical parcel property, improvements and the interests, benefits and rights of the owner as well. Republican County Legislator David Gelfarb explained county taxes tend to fluctuate up or down each year because every community assesses property at different levels of full value. “Whenever there is more economic development, you end up paying more [taxes],” Gelfarb said. “Because there are more assets to pay with.” Although the overall tax levy for TAXES continued on page 4

The Harrison Report, 1-11-2013

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