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SOUND &TOWN Serving Mamaroneck & Larchmont Vol. 15/Number 16 Village moves forward with USDA By CHRIS GRAMUGLIA STAFF REPORTER Since the Village of Mamaroneck Board of Trustees announced that it would take advantage of a renegotiation clause within the contract it signed with the USDA to slaughter the village’s geese, there has been a wide variety of non-lethal alternatives offered by those opposed to the original agreement. When the board discovered the contract with the USDA allowed them to cancel or reconsider the terms of the agreement within 120 days of signing it, they chose to explore that option, and have now made it clear to USDA representative Ken Preusser that they wish to avoid killing the geese. In a statement issued by the board, the official course of action is to move forward with the USDA, but only through non-lethal means. This effort is primarily aimed at oiling eggs in Columbus and Harbor Island parks, which are considered property of the village. Village Manager Richard Slingerland said that the board will allow the USDA to oil eggs in both parks, but that residents are encouraged to take it upon themselves to oil eggs on private property if they choose. “We’re trying to implement a systematic plan that will eventually be rolled out village-wide,” Slingerland said. “What we’re focusing on now is village property, but in the future, we’ll try to focus more on volunteer efforts.” Scarsdale resident Kim Gold, who is an animal rights activist that has spoken out against the USDA contract, recently contacted GeesePeace, an organization that educates communities on waterfowl management, and coordinated a presentation for residents on egg oiling at the Mamaroneck Public Library on April 11. “There needs to be public and private collaboration,” Gold said. “A lot of people have nests on their property, and this was just a way to educate residents on how to deal with them.” Gold said that she thinks the village’s new approach is a good one-despite her gripes with the USDA for its other lethal methods of waterfowl management-and that she hopes to find a way to reach out to more residents who couldn’t attend the presentation. The GeesePeace presentation was given by Denise Savageau, the Director of Conservation for the Town of Greenwich, and focused on the proper methods that should be used to oil eggs as well as how residents can register with the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service to become certified to carry out the process on USDA continued on page 14 April 19, 2013 Ruined! A building occupying 122 through 134 Mamaroneck Ave. collapsed on April 16. The unoccupied building was scheduled for a controlled demolition. No one was injured in the collapse. For more, see page 5. Photo/Chris Gramuglia Local summit discusses schools’ financial future By CHRIS GRAMUGLIA STAFF REPORTER On Tuesday, April 16, the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Local Summit met at the Nautilus Diner on West Boston Post Road to discuss how the Rye Neck and Mamaroneck School districts will find news ways to minimize budget growth in the second year of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2 percent tax levy cap. Dr. Robert Shaps, Superintendant of the Mamaroneck School District, and Dr. Peter Mustich, Superintendent of the Rye Neck School District, revealed a number of strategies they are employing to improve the quality of educational programs in the future, despite the tax cap and rising costs. Mustich, who has worked in the Rye Neck School District for 40 years, opened the discussion by criticizing the tax cap as something that has hurt schools in particular by putting them under tighter financial constraints. “Over the last two years, I’m really mourning something. I’m mourning this tax cap, it is slowly deteriorating and destroying what took many years and much hard work to build,” Mustich said. Mustich said the tax cap is tak- ing away the ability of community members and taxpayers to have any control over what goes on in their schools and is reducing the quality of education. “The fear is palpable in Albany,” Mustich told summit attendees. “When people talk about the governor, they’re afraid. They’re afraid of what the governor might do if they speak up.” Superintendent Mustich also mentioned state testing, mainly because he feels that it is excessive in Rye Neck. According to Mustich, state mandated testing is causing students and teachers to panic, even SUMMIT continued on page 15 Larchmont trustees adopt 2013-2014 budget By ALEXANDRA BOGDANOVIC STAFF REPORTER Robert Guardagna gave The Sound and Town Report a demonstration of his Geesebuster’s apparatus at Glen Island Park in New Rochelle. The predator decoy, seen here in Guardagna’s hands, is made of bamboo and lightweight fabric and is used to frighten birds into leaving an area. Photo/Chris Gramuglia With little fanfare, the Larchmont Village Board of Trustees on Monday adopted a $16.8 million budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. The spending plan unanimously approved after a public hearing also results in a 2.5 percent property tax increase. Mayor Anne McAndrews, a Democrat, began the conversation by reiterating the concerns she voiced when the board unveiled the proposed budget earlier this month. Specifically, she said the village faced a dramatic increase in pension costs. A closer look at the budget reveals that those costs are expected to jump by $260,726, or roughly 18.1 percent, in fiscal year 20132014. Retirement costs alone will total roughly $1.7 million and account for 10.7 percent of the total expenditures. Back in 2003-2004, the village only contributed $237,000 to employee pensions, McAndrews said. In 2004-2005, that amount jumped to $837,000 and the costs have been rising ever since, she said. On top of that, health insurance costs, which the village also has no control over, have gone up, too. Providing health insurance will cost the village nearly $1.5 million in the upcoming fiscal year. As shown in the budget document, the cost of “total fringe benefits,” including BUDGET continued on page 15

Sound and Town Report 4-19-13

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