by Andy Stewart, Orangetown Town Supervisor
Since taking office in January, 2012, I’ve worked constantly to get Orangetown back on track, by putting the town’s finances in order, protecting our quality of life, and making government more open and transparent to residents. Now that this year is almost over and we are looking forward to what 2015 will bring, I wanted to take a moment to share with you some of the great things we’ve accomplished together in 2014.
For the third year in a row since I took office, we’ve held the line on taxes and passed a budget that stays under the New York State Tax Cap—without imposing severe layoffs or disrupting the services residents depend on. We’ve sought out new revenue sources and found efficiencies that have saved big money for taxpayers, so that even with increasing pension, energy, and health insurance costs growing at an alarming rate, overall spending in the 2015 budget is up by only 1.39%.
2014 has been a banner year for getting work done on our infrastructure. Orangetown’s Highway Department completed the installation of new sidewalks in Palisades, and have begun replacing the decrepit old Oak Tree Road Bridge in downtown Tappan, making it safer and helping to reduce flooding on the Sparkill Creek.
State Of The Town
On Tuesday, January 6th, I’ll be delivering the annual State of the Town Speech at the town’s annual reorganization meeting, reporting on more of our progress in 2014 and the plans we’ve got for 2015.
Please come out for this important community event if you can. Refreshments and music will be provided. 7:30 in the Court Room at Town Hall (26 Orangeburg Road, Orangeburg). Hope you can make it!
— Andy Stewart
We were able to complete a long overdue overhaul of the sludge filter press at our sewage treatment plant. And we took advantage of New York State financing that gave us a 0% interest loan to complete a major project to re-line sewers in Nyack, preventing rainwater infiltration and sewage overflows during storms.
Democratic government hinges on public access — to meetings, critical documents, and face-time with elected officials. How else can voters and taxpayers hold government accountable to their needs and priorities? So I’m especially proud of the strides we’ve made in increasing public access to information.
Thanks to our IT department and some dedicated volunteers, the Town is now broadcasting all regular Town Board meetings live on local access cable and posting these videos to YouTube. We’ve added to our existing general e-mail update list (sign up here) a new list for folks who want to receive e-mails with agendas for the meetings of the Planning, Zoning, and other land use boards (sign up here). And in response to public demand, we’ve added a page to the town website dedicated to current controversial land use issues including the Anellotech and Hillside proposals; an unprecedented number of critical documents from these applications can now be easily accessed online.
Economic development in Orangetown also continues to thrive as good taxpaying companies are attracted to our pro-business climate. In 2014 we saw the Bloomberg Data Center get up and running and construction begin on another new data center on Ramland Road. The Marriott Residence Inn at Orangeburg Commons opened, and construction is proceeding on the Nylo Hotel in Nyack. Orangeburg Shopping Center is getting a major facelift and redesign, and a new mixed-use retail and commercial development at Orangeburg Commons next to Stop ‘n Shop will hopefully begin construction in 2015.
Last year I introduced a resolution opposing United Water’s desalination plant, which was passed by the Town Board. This May, we held a public hearing at Town Hall to give residents a chance to speak out against United Water’s desal and rate surcharge plans. Thankfully, as you know, the public pressure from so many of us around the County convinced the Public Service Commission to order United Water not to pursue the desal plant!
As 2014 comes to an end, I am so grateful to have your friendship and your support. It is an honor to serve our community and town as Supervisor. To all of you, I wish a happy, healthy, and productive 2015!
Andy Stewart is the Town Supervisor of Orangetown, NY.