This week, Town Supervisor Paul Feiner took several noteworthy steps forward on incorporation, and telegraphed what the next few months might hold. By e-mail, Mr. Feiner:
1. Conceded that "in the coming months, the residents of Edgemont will be voting on a referendum to incorporate as a Village." If we take him at his word, that sentiment represents a major turning point. Not only does it allow all of unincorporated to appropriately prepare over the next 18 months for a possible transition, it also suggests that Edgemont residents should no longer worry about Town delay tactics to put off the vote. However, this change in position does call into question why the Town continues to fight the vote in court, at taxpayer expense.
2. Recognized that the Town needs to work with Edgemont. However, for now, he is only offering a "concept -that has to be developed" of a zoning and planning district—a type of government that doesn’t exist, would require special legislation, is of dubious constitutionality, and would offer Edgemont no real solution to its concerns — that he somehow believes would be an acceptable approach in lieu of a referendum. Nonetheless, he is working once again with Assemblyman Tom Abinanti to push this idea in Albany at the close the session, just as the two of them attempted this past summer with the constitutionally questionable home rule law on incorporation– which failed.
We have demonstrated to him the legal and logistical deficiencies of that approach, far worse than his last home rule request, and Mr. Feiner has offered no research to support the viability of the idea. (Click here for research and explanation). Continuing to discuss it would appear to be a delay tactic, contradicting his other statements that Edgemont will have a vote in a few months.
3. Asserted that "the Town needs to make it clear to the residents of Edgemont that although it would certainly negotiate for the sale of such services in the future, no contract is currently in place and no agreement has been made at this time, nor could it be made under the current circumstances." In the meantime, the EIC will continue to undertake research to inform residents of the costs and implications of becoming a village. To that end, we will analyze the Town’s 2018 budget when released and also continue discussing service options with Westchester County, other municipalities, and private entities where appropriate. Preliminary budget guidance from other service providers, including the County, have demonstrated we could have both greater resources for fewer tax dollars than we pay today. Nonetheless, we continue to seek any budget guidance and supporting data from the Town to inform the community.
Mr. Feiner also complained that "members of the EIC have waged a ruthless, campaign of negative press against me, the Town and its elected officials." Our goal is not to harm elected officials or the Town, it's simply to provide transparency—through Freedom of Information requests and the review of other publicly available information—about what our Town officials are doing, which Mr. Feiner himself acknowledged are "certainly within the rights of individuals in a democracy." We agree, but think open government isn't just a right, it's a cornerstone of our democracy.
We believe that truthful information, however much uncomfortable light it may shine, is beneficial to the community to determine if we want our government to be local, like our school district, or remote, as it is today. We will continue to "ruthlessly" pursue all avenues to gather information and keep our neighbors current, particularly with our Town's recent history of secret legal, legislative, illegal investigative actions, and Mr. Feiner's previous reversals of past positions on incorporation.