Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack began his 2013 State of the Town address focusing on the safety of town residents, especially its young ones in the wake of the Newtown, CT shootings. Gromack spoke Thursday night about a grant application for enhanced safety at the schools that was started two years ago. It included requests for funding for keyless entry, security cameras connected to the police department, remote lockdown capabilities and expanded police training in the area of autism, sensitivity and terrorism. He pledged to renew the effort to get state monies for safety improvements.
In a similar vein, he reminded residents to register for the Clarkstown Ready Program, which will provide immediate notification in the event of emergencies, closures and other situations to people by landline phone, cell phone, pager and other mobile devices. According to police officials about 3,500 people have signed up since the program was launched in late November and their goal is for 30,000 by year’s end.
Gromack reviewed developments over the past eight years including flood mitigation projects pointing out that 125 of 150 identified projects have been completed. Another 10 are scheduled for 2013. He spoke about the town’s infrastructure and hamlet revitalizations finished in Congers, Nanuet and Valley Cottage. He also mentioned the ones in progress in New City and Central Nyack and how they are helping to transform areas that had struggling businesses, crumbling sidewalks and limited parking to destinations for residents. The supervisor spoke about the participation of community groups and residents and the grants received to help fund the projects.
Gromack touted the town’s AAA bond rating, stating it was better than Rockland County and the federal government’s ratings. He explained the rating means Clarkstown can borrow money for capital projects at very low rates but did not say how much the town currently has bonded. The town maintains a $15 million surplus.
Gromack said the under construction Shops At Nanuet are creating 1,600 construction jobs and according to the Rockland IDA will create 1,100 permanent positions.
He pledged the government will look at consolidation where it makes financial sense and leads to savings and improving operations as well as working more closely with the other towns and county “to explore inter-municipal opportunities for consolidation.”
Gromack expressed optimism that changes would come in the future to avoid the tax hike experienced by taxpayers and placed the blame for the increase on the county.
“The loss of revenue from County sales tax and County mortgage tax and the County's unprecedented and unexpected move to transfer over $3 million dollars in charge backs to our Town, put us in a position where we, like many other municipalities, were unable to stay below the state’s tax cap,” he said. “I firmly believe that with new leadership on the County level, eliminating these unfair chargebacks to towns, along with more consolidation and inter-municipal cooperation, the pressure on our Town budget and our property tax payers will be reduced.”
Gromack ended by saying everyone must continue to work together to improve Clarkstown for the present and for the future.
More than 100 people attended the annual Reorganization Meeting, including State Senator David Carlucci, Legislators Ed Day, Christopher Carey and Aney Paul, Judge Scott Ugell, Judge William Kelly, County Republican Committee Chair Vincent Reda, County Democratic Committee Chair and Democratic Elections Commissioner Kristen Stavisky plus representatives of Congresswoman Nita Lowey and Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski.
Clarkstown Police Chaplain David Lothrop led the program, which began, with Presentation of the Colors by the Clarkstown Police Honor Guard, a salute to the flag by two pre-school students and the National Anthem and “Somewhere” sung by the Nanuet High School Concert Choir. Pastor William Cosgrove of St. Augustine Church delivered the invocation. Family Court Judge William Warren swore in Rolf Thorsen for his second term as Clarkstown Town Justice and Rabbi Paul Kurland of the Nanuet Hebrew Center gave the blessing.