While some villages are struggling with spending plans this year, both Suffern and Nyack passed budgets over the weekend that met the state mandated 1.48 percent tax cap. According to Suffern Village Treasurer Thomas Zordan the 17.14 million dollar spending plan will remain below the cap and work to lower the deficit and will involve placing $100,000 to $249,000 in the sewer fund and $148,000 in the water fund. This plan will allow the village to increase the rates for both sewer and water and will eliminate the water deficit within two years ago and the sewer in four. With the new budget taxes will go up 2.1 percent from this year until next, while the sewer rate goes up 5.1 percent, and water up 3.8 percent. The village’s police buyout for the Public Safety fund, which accounts for 40 percent of the village’s spending, will be going down 1.4 percent, though police will be receiving a 2.5 percent raise. According to Zordan village employees will be receiving a 2.75 percent raise and elected officials will have the same salaries. Early in 2014 the state Comptroller’s office stated that Suffern was one of the most fiscally stressed towns in New York, having a 1.3 million dollar deficit. There will be a public hearing at 7:00 PM tonight at Suffern Village Hall. Nyack’s 5.7 million dollar budget for 2014 and 15 will be discussed at a public hearing at Nyack Village Hall on Thursday at 8:00 PM.
Police arrested a Stony Point man who led them on a car chase through two states, after he hit a tree on the Palisades Interstate Parkway. Peter DeNicola was reported driving a stolen SUV in Elmwood Park, New Jersey at 4:00 PM on Wednesday and when police attempted to pull the man over he drove off. According to Elmwood Police Sargent Ralph Sigone DeNicola drove North on the Garden State Parkway and police lost him near the George Washington Bridge, though they set up barricades and State Troopers in his path on the PIP. Around 4:30 PM the man hit a trooper’s car and then a tree near exit 6W. DeNicola was arrested and taken to Rockland County Jail where he was held on $10,000 bail. He will be seen in court on Tuesday facing charges of third-degree criminal mischief, a felony, and third-degree unlawful fleeing an officer in a vehicle, second-degree reckless endangerment, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and driving while under the influence of drugs, all misdemeanors.
The state Education Department is looking to replace the InBloom program with BOSCES information centers to allow districts to keep track of students’ data. State officials recently agreed to disband plans for InBloom, a non-profit company that would present student data to teachers and parents, after many people expressed concern about the privacy of their children’s information. According to Senator David Carlucci BOSCES is capable of holding all of the data, without having to go through a private company, which will give district officials better control over records. The state is set up to receive about 700 million dollars from the Federal government through the Race to the Top contract and has 15 months to reform the education process or they may lose the money. According to the Board of Cooperative Educational Services there are twelve information centers in New York that are capable of doing what the InBloom system would have performed.
New York State officials released plans Thursday to supply local police with Naloxone, which acts as an antidote to the effects of heroin. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman along with other officials created the five million dollar Community Overdose Prevention program and announced on Thursday that it will be funded by crime money seized during investigations. Schneiderman stated that New York will be the first to have a state- wide program and departments can get fully reimbursed for the $60 kits which include two syringes with the drug, two inhalers, sterile gloves, and an instructional manual, that will be carried by officers within each department. Officials stated that their hope for the program is to save lives in the heroin epidemic that is all too prevelent in the Hudson Valley and throughout the United States according to the New York City Department of Health deaths from heroin increased by 84 percent between 2010 and 2012.
The Rockland Social Services Department is requesting a hearing before a second judge after a state judge ruled that students in religious study centers known as kollels who were being paid to answer questions and complete research work are eligible for child care payments. Rockland DSS has claimed that more than $50,000 in child care is going to adult students who are paid a stipend and do not have federal taxes taken out of their paychecks, rather than employees at the centers who have federal taxes deducted. Families in the child care program are provided assistance while looking for jobs. According to officials there are about 511 families with 1,500 children receiving assistance. Susan Sherwood, DSS Commissioner, stated that a state audit of the service raised their awareness to a lack of FICA payments from the student employees, which led them to look into the recipients of the aid. According to records three families challenging the DSS decision to declare them ineligible made about $52,450 between January 1 and October 2013 through their own income as well as medicaid, child care aid, and food stamps. Sherwood stated that the pattern is a clear misuse of the program, which has a waiting list of about 381 families, and the removal 118 families should have been upheld in court.
Local activist group Preserve Ramapo sent a letter to assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Krause this week referring to recent violations made by the town of the Clean Water Act, which resulted in $125,000 fines and thousands of dollars worth of wetland repair. The group’s letter states that tax payers should not be paying for the fine an replacement of 2.2 acres of wetlands that had been filled and destroyed illegally during the building of the Provident Bank Park baseball stadium. Preserve Ramapo argued that the Local development Corporation that funded and owns the park should be paying the estimated near $425,000 cost. Town Attorney Michael Klein stated that the project was shared by the town and the LDC from the beginning, so the responsibility of infrastructure repairs falls on the town. According to Klein the original work on grounds, drainage, and roadways was done by the town before the LDC had ownership.
The East Ramapo School District board members voted 5-0 at Tuesday’s meeting to settle a lawsuit they have been fighting against the two Yeshivas renting the Colton Elementary school building. The district has been in court with the tenants since May 2011, when a 6.6 million dollar sale of the building to Congregation Bais Malka and the Hebrew Academy for Special Children was questioned by a resident for being undervalued. The Yeshivas filed claims that they were owed rent credit by the district and have been in court for some time, with East Ramapo deciding to settle the property is now able to be sold. This year’s budget for the East Ramapo District includes 5 million dollars from the sale of the building, and officials stated that if they don’t sell the site by June 30 they will take out a revenue deficiency note. In December 2013 State Education Commissioner John King approved the sale, claiming that the resident who came forward did not have proof that the property was worth a higher value.
Trials are set to begin this week for a case filed by former chemistry teacher Mushtaq Ahmad against the East Ramapo School District and Mt. Vernon School District. Ahmad was fired from East Ramapo seven years ago and later from Mt. Vernon and is claiming that the reasoning behind both was discrimination against his race, religion, and ethnicity. He is seeking 10 million dollars in damages, stating that he was fired within five months from both districts, for reasons beyond his teaching skills. According to his claim, Ahmad overheard teachers in East Ramapo saying that he could not be trusted in the school because he was born in Pakistan and is Muslim, despite being a U.S. citizen since 1996. In a letter sent to Ahmad by the district it was stated that the reasoning behind his firing was, “Unprofessional behavior, insubordination to a supervisor, and did not get along with colleagues.” Ahmad will be representing himself in Federal Court in White Plains this week.
A car crash in West Haverstraw Monday night left one man seriously injured and two others facing non-life threatening injuries. According to Haverstraw Police Lt. John Hickey around 9:00 PM a gray Nissan Rogue crashed into a concrete stairwell of a building and hit a man. The man, who was not identified in reports, was taken to a local hospital for non-life threatening fractures to his legs and head trauma. The driver and the passenger were also taken to the hospital. Lt. Hickey stated that detectives are investigating the cause of the accident and no charges have been filed.
State Senate Assembly members passed the 137.9 billion dollar budget on monday, with 45 minutes to the deadline, making this year’s the fourth consecutive on time budget. According to Governor Andrew Cuomo this budget includes a 1.5 billion dollar property- tax rebate along with 1.1 billion dollars in education aid. State officials also voted to delay the parts of the Common Core program. An agreement was met over the weekend, and the official budget was passed by the senate at 10:15 Monday night and an hour later by the Assembly. Many of the bills passed with support from both parties, and Cuomo stated that the budget is aimed at tax cuts to help homeowners and businesses in New York.