Today we introduce you to candidate Peter William Jovanovich
What are the three most important issues for Rye in 2014?
- Negotiate fair labor agreements that stop the dramatic rise in health costs borne by the taxpayers.
- Continue to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure: roads, sidewalks, and sewers
- Control over development in Rye that is causing overcrowding in our schools
Rye Playland. Questions:
- Which of the Rye Playland alternatives do you favor? Rye Playland has been a part of the fabric or our town for 85 years. But, for many decades, Playland has been in decline, losing money and patrons. A new approach is desperately needed.Rye-based Sustainable Playland Inc. represents the best thinking to date to turn things around. SPI's plan for renewal will include the construction of ball fields, restaurants, new outdoor areas for events and gatherings, transforming Rye Playland into a safe, year-round, family oriented facility that preserves most of the original park and improves upon the rest. I feel that Rye’s elected officials are obligated to make sure that there is a collaborative relationship and opens lines of communication between County Government, the management of Playland and the residents of Rye. I also feel that the City of Rye has the legal jurisdiction (mainly through the land-use boards, specifically the Planning Board) to review the proposed construction for the new ball fields and field house to make sure it complies with all environmental, safety and aesthetic standards. I will consistently press County government officials to meet its obligations and promises to the citizens of Rye. As for the proposed field house, I think building a field house in a flood plain is inherently problematic. The new FEMA flood zone maps suggest that the developers would have to build an 8-10 ft. mound of landfill, and then build a foundation on top of that. Getting through the necessary environmental and land use reviews (by the City Planning Commission) would seem to be a tall order.
- Do you believe the financial performance of Rye Playland has been misstated by the County Executive (yes or no) and should the financial statements of Rye Playland be audited by an independent auditor? Whether under Democratic or Republican administrations, the County has reported that Playland has lost a lot of money. If one wishes, and independent audit could be commissioned, but the bottom line – a lot of red ink -- is unlikely to change.
- What’s your favorite ride at Rye Playland and why? The Dragon Coaster. I remember it from my youth when I first went to Playland in the 50’s.
Rye City Budget and Infrastructure. Questions:
- What percentage of the city’s budget is comprised of healthcare and pension contributions? Haven’t checked most recent figures, but believe it’s approximately 21% of the General Fund Budget.
- What can and should Rye be doing to control city employee healthcare and pension costs? The rising cost of providing municipal employee health care for uniformed services (police and fire), and the declining share borne by these employees, threatens the quality of life in Rye. With no reform, there will be no money for more police protection, more crossing guards, greater resources for the library, and many services that Rye’s families need. The City just this week won a major victory at the negotiating table with the police union. The Arbitrator ordered that all the police officers must contribute to their health care premiums. Previously, about a third of the officers contributed nothing to their health care premiums. Councilman Joe Sack urged the Council not to engage in mandatory arbitration but instead take the Police Union’s last offer: no reform on health care. Sack’s proposed deal would have cost the City hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of a deal. As Mayor, I will urge the Police Union to return to the bargaining table. Common ground can be found that respects our employees in a financially sustainable way.
- Infrastructure in Rye: The Central Avenue Bridge in Rye was replaced this year, six years after it was washed out in the floods of 2007. Questions:
- What are the three most important infrastructure projects in Rye City?
- Train Station Plaza, in conjunction with the MTA;
- Redesign the Purdy/Theodore Fremd/Purchase Streets intersection,
- Repair crosswalks and sidewalks, particularly near schools.
- Is it ever appropriate to defer needed infrastructure maintenance or improvements even if in the end the deterioration results in a more expensive project? It is rarely appropriate to defer needed infrastructure particularly if it results in more expensive “fixes” later on. The only time deferral should occur is during serious economic dislocation, such as the Great Recession. In that instance, the City issued a $2 million bond in 2012 to make up for the deferrals in 2011 and 2012. Councilman Sack voted against that bond. Basic infrastructure improvements like streets, sewers and bridges are additive to the overall economic base of any community and therefore should not always be looked to as a “cost” to taxpayers but rather an “investment” in the community’s ability to compete and thrive economically.
- What is the best way to fund infrastructure? The best way to fund infrastructure investments is through the City’s account balance. The City’s balance sheet is stronger than in recent years and the city financial reserves have been replenished to pre-recession levels. This has allowed the City to keep tax increases within the tax cap over the last 3 years (roughly 2%). As a secondary method and for targeted purposes only, bonding can be an appropriate method. With its AAA rating Rye would be able to borrow at lower costs than its neighbors with the double benefit of historically low interest rates (however we should not count on rates staying this low forever and need to be very prudent on public debt borrowing.)
- What are the three most important infrastructure projects in Rye City?
Flooding in Rye. Questions:
- What has been done in Rye since the 2007 floods to mitigate future flooding? The city installed a sluice gate at Bowman Avenue Dam.
- What still needs to be done to mitigate flooding concerns in Rye City? The one project that will create real benefit is to build a retention pond on the campus of SUNY Purchase.
Rye Town Park. Questions:
- Should Rye City own and run Rye Town Park, yes or no? Yes.
- If the government entity Rye Town is dissolved and goes away, should the park fall under the ownership and control of Rye City, Westchester County or someone else? City of Rye.
- Should dogs be allowed off leash in the park, yes or no? Yes, but only if a proper dog run area is delineated.
- Should the Smoke Shop stay open, yes or no? Yes.
- Should the Smoke Shop stay open even if it means the City needs to intervene with the building owner or others, yes or no? Yes, but not at the risk of creating inappropriate public use. Allowing another bank on the block would be a bad idea.
The Rye Golf Club has been mired in scandal and badly mismanaged. Questions:
- Does the Rye City Manager Scott Pickup hold responsibility for mismanagement and if so, what consequences should befall Mr. Pickup? City Manager, Scott Pickup has real achievements: keeping taxes and spending low during the recession, taking a strong stand that we must have reform in our labor agreements and winning a decisive victory for the City on labor costs, and hiring new managers who in each instance are an improvement. He has also had a real failure with the issues surrounding the Rye Golf Club in not discovering the Golf Club Scandal. That the fact the last two previous City Managers and previous Councils and Mayors did not discover the embezzlement is no excuse. It is a mitigating factor that he was woefully understaffed at headquarters during the recession. Coming in 2014 the City of Rye is already looking at hiring a new Police Commissioner, new Golf Club manager, a need to remove the “acting” from the current Director of Finance job title, possibly a new director of Human Resources and some other key positions. On balance of Mr Pickup’s achievements, his failings and the on-going “brain drain” at City Hall I would be inclined to keep him in his current position.
- In the future, what needs to be done to place proper auditing and financial controls? Add the position of Internal Auditor reporting to the Council. Fill the vacant positions within the finance department and the Assistant City Manager position.
- What specifically should happen with the dining facility at Whitby Castle? Lease it to a third party operator.
- Should Rye Golf Club members be forced to pay a $300 food minimum, yes or no? Not after 2014. The savings from leasing the Castle should be used to eliminate the food minimum.
Green issues in Rye. Questions:
- Is Rye being overbuilt, yes or no? Yes. We should approve the attic law and appoint members of land use commissions who believe they are stewards of our neighborhoods.
- Should there be rules about cutting down trees of a certain size or age. We already have rules regarding cutting down trees in the front yard setback. The question is whether or not to extend those restrictions to the rear and back yards. My answer is yes, but I have not decided about minimum number and size of trees affected.
- Do you support the plastic bag ban in Rye, yes or no? Yes
- Should we cull the deer population in Rye, yes or no? Yes
- What else should we be doing to make Rye a sustainable city? Convert City vehicles to natural gas or battery powered.
Word Association: tell us the one word you associate with each of these topics:
[word association was not answerd]
Central Avenue Bridge
Bowman Avenue Dam Sluice Gate
The Smoke Shop
Rye Little League Parade
Plastic Bag Ban
Rye Marshlands Conservancy
Edith Read Sanctuary
Rye Garnet Football
Harrison Huskie Football
Tell Us About Your Campaign:
What “ticket(s)” are you running on? I am running as an Independent for the position of Mayor of City of Rye.
Who else (if applicable) is running on your ticket? As an Independent I do not have running mates.
What local organizations have endorsed your candidacy? no answer
What are the three most important endorsements you have received from local residents? In August of this year I was able to obtain over 900 petition signatures from the voters of Rye that enabled me to run for Mayor as an Independent. This represents approximately 10% of the entire voting population of Rye. The major party lines (Democrat, Republican) require just 5% of their particular party’s registration which would be more in the area of 200-250 signatures. I like to think that these 900 voters of Rye thought well of me to say “yes…I would like for you to be on the ballot in November” and are my biggest endorsers.
How much money has your campaign raised as of Sunday, October 20, 2013? no answer
How much of the money raised to date is from you, your immediate family or relatives? no answer
How much of the money raised to date is from individual donations of $100 or less? 6
What percentage of money has been spent on postal mailings to Rye homes? no answer
What percentage of money has been spent on advertisements in local newspapers or web
sites? no answer
What comprises the other major expenditures? no answer
Who is your campaign manager and where do they live? no answer
Tell Us More About You:
Where do you live in Rye? 647 Milton Road
How long have you lived in Rye – since what year? 1992.
What’s your day job? President of Alfred Harcourt Foundation.
Did you have a summer job in high school and if so, what was it? In high school, I worked in a warehouse and caddied.
Tell us about your family. My wife Robin and I have been married for 37 years. We have two sons, Nicholas and William, who are both married.
What’s your favorite Rye area restaurant for “date night” with your partner? + What’s your favorite Rye area restaurant for take-out or delivery when you are having dinner at home with your family? Town Dock and Morgan’s.
Where might we find you on a Sunday morning? Rye Presbyterian Church, tennis, coffee and the paper.
What is your political affiliation? Republican
Your favorite major league baseball team: San Francisco Giants
Your Facebook page: no answer
Your twitter call: NA
Your campaign web site: http://jovanovichformayor.com/