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Potential Crossing Guard Cuts in Mamaroneck; Town Seeks Public Input

The Town of Mamaroneck Board discussed potential cuts in the latest installment of the town budgetary process at a meeting Nov. 17.

The Town of Mamaroneck, like many other local municipalities, is struggling to balance their annual budget in the wake of a stagnant economy, dwindling revenues, state mandated costs and a looming two percent property tax cap. 

Making this task even more challenging is a complaint echoed by homeowners countywide: Don’t raise my property taxes.  With 44 percent of the budget earmarked for mandated costs according to a budget summary letter available on the Town of Mamaroneck website, however, town officials are faced with tough choices concerning potential cuts to public services.

“We have a budget that falls under the tax cap for all of the budget with the exception of the fire district,” said Town Administrator Steve Altieri about the preliminary budget, which can be viewed on the town’s website here.

Reducing the number of hours that Hommocks Pool is open during off-season will save the town $38,000, said Altieri, and is being considered as a potential cut.

Another possible change being discussed would be to reduce the number of school crossing guards in the town from 13 to 10, eliminating guards at several intersections including Plymouth Road and Weaver Street, Harmon Drive and Weaver Street and Murray and Colonial Avenues.  Additionally, crossing guards for afternoon activity programs at Murray Avenue and Central School would also potentially be cut, saving the town an additional $25,000-30,000.

“The locations were chosen based upon the Police Department’s review of each crossing. Consideration was given to the traffic at each crossing, estimated number of pedestrians and the road width at the crossing.  Also, if another protected crossing was nearby that too was part of the consideration,” said Altieri in an e-mail.

Some intersections that developed into crossing areas were inherently dangerous from the beginning.

“Colonial and Murray sort of evolved because people started to cross at that street,” said Altieri, continuing, “The concern is that if you’re traveling northbound on Murray that you come around the corner, the crossing is upon you.”

“Guard or no guard, there has always been some fear a vehicle may not be able to stop in time," he said.

It’s also unclear how many kids still traverse the same routes that they did in the past or whether extended afterschool activities and/or bus service has caused them to choose alternate forms of transportation.

“When they first put crossing guards there many, many more kids walked home..now there are fewer and fewer kids,” said Town Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe. 

“Most people are looking for the town to do everything it can to bring the budget within the cap and this becomes the result of that…we have to look at our services,” said Altieri.

The town will hold a public hearing on Dec. 7 at the Town Center at 8 p.m. to hear comments from the community on the proposed changes.

“We would really like to hear from the public about these changes,” said Councilwoman Nancy Seligson.

Stay tuned for further updates on the Town of Mamaroneck budgetary process. 

Robert Frey November 21, 2011 at 07:18 PM
Maybe we need to get rid of the 3 or 4 assistant principals they hired last year or the year before for the high school. And their respective staffs.
Stefani Kim November 22, 2011 at 04:18 AM
A response from Town of Mamaroneck Councilman Ernest Odierna: As a member of our Town Board, and I think I also speak for my fellow members, it is never too late, before final passage, for citizens to make suggestions about the budget. There is no need to wait for the last minute. We may need some time to "digest" and research the idea. I for one have been frustrated, at lunch time, seeing so few kids "crossing" and all our guards sitting around or in their cars while the school doesn't permit kids to leave for lunch except with a parent or guardian. I have been suggesting for years that we reduce the guards salary from about $71.00 a day to say $50.00 a day for just the morning and dismissal times. We have been told that this would make "recruiting" difficult. With the times as tough as they are I think we should be able to find sufficient guards to staff the "critical" intersections. Councilman, Ernie Odierna
LMP November 25, 2011 at 05:42 PM
Hi Stephani, Town of Mamaroneck Councilman Ernest Odierna likely is an exception. As his comments here indicate, he thinks about how things can be done better. His participation here, demonstrates a willingness to discuss things with his constituents. But, not necessarily as likely that this is as representative of the Town Board as he may expect. Even in the relatively simple change he mentioned above during the budget process, and was able to suggest as a member of the Town Board, he reports it has been met with the criticism of colleagues about the change being "difficult" to accomplish, rather than let's figure out how it can be done. What real chance is there for the average "citizen" to have any impact, when they are allowed to speak, just before the end of the process, after the Board has made all its decisions except for the act of stating its formal vote? Do you know which "citizens" are on the Town Finance Committee and when the Committee meets? Happy Thanksgiving, LMP
Nancy November 26, 2011 at 12:18 PM
Whatever happened to the recommendation to consolidate police departments for TOM and Village of Larchmont?
SR November 29, 2011 at 07:13 PM
Let me get this straight. Colonial and Murray is dangerous, so let's do away with the crossing guard. That makes no sense. What are kids coming from south of Colonial supposed to do (particularly those on the east side of Murray)? Councilman Odierna's idea makes a world of sense. Why not try to recruit folks at lower pay for a lesser time commitment before you put kids at risk of being hit on the way to/from school.

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