William J. Vescio is one of two candidates vying for the position of mayor in Briarcliff Manor in the Tuesday, March 19 village election.
View his responses to Patch's Q&A below.
Click here to read more about Tuesday's election.
Full Name: William J. Vescio
Party Affiliation: People's Caucus
Number of year living in village: 42
Occupation: President/Owner—LAWS Construction Corp.
Age: 62 years
Time in office/positions held:
1.) Mayor, eight years
2.) Trustee, one year
3.) Planning Board, 16 years, 6 as Chair
4.) Zoning Board of Appeals, 2 years
Examples of community involvement: Coached youth sports for 19 years including basketball, baseball & softball. Assisted Ossining HS JV softball Coach for 8 years.
Why are you running and why should residents vote for you? I am running because I was asked to continue as Mayor during these difficult economic times. I have 27 years of experience in government affairs and over 40 years of experience in business ownership management and finances. During my 8 years as Mayor I have provided leadership and financial guidance. Under my tenure, the Village Board has accomplished an unprecedented number of items for the Village and its residents. A few of those accomplishments are the following:
1.) Constructed a new $19 million dollar reliable water supply system for the Village.
2.) Secured nearly $10 million dollars of Stimulus money to save residents tax dollars.
3.) Constructed a new expanded Library with plans for Community room in old Library.
4.) Constructed New Scarborough Fire House to better protect our residents.
5.) Updated the Comprehensive Plan with implementation goals.
6.) Personally negotiated with the developer of "The Club" to build fields years before they were obligated to do so. Fields came on line last year for our youth sports.
7.) Up-Zoned Scarborough Corridor to decrease density of future developments in large undeveloped areas.
8.) Revised the abusive "Bulk Zoning" to protect existing homes.
9.) Instituted financial oversight and management to better monitor Village finances.
10.) Replaced old outdated Fire Vehicles including Tower Ladder 40, Engine 94 and new ambulance.
11.) Upgraded Village hall with new roof, new ceilings, low energy lights, furniture, energy efficient doors and windows (windows were original single pane installed in 1960)
12.) Installed new Emergency Generator in Village Hall so Emergency Command Center could function during emergencies.
13.) Secured $400,000 Federal Grant to place solar panels on Village Hall and at DPW to reduce energy costs.
14.) Installed emergency generators at all water and sewage pump stations so during power outages services are still provided to residents.
15.) Instituted a programmed replacement of old DPW vehicles with more modern efficient vehicles.
16.) Instituted "Valet" parking at Scarborough Train Station to serve our commuters.
17.) During our tenure Village has raised its bond rating.
18.) Consolidated outstanding bonds and secured new lower bond rates costing the Village less.
19.) During past 6 years have maintained one of the lowest tax increases in Westchester
20.) Worked with developer in a public/private partnership to redevelop a commercial property into a mixed use which includes 14 affordable units which apply to the County goal in the Federal lawsuit settlement.
21.) Reduced Village staff from 86 to 69 without impacting quality of services we provided to residents.
What should the board's priorities be as the 2013-14 budget takes shape? The board's priorities are;
1.) To complete the Community Room at the Library. New windows, doors, and partial demolition are complete. Bid documents are being prepared for a late spring bid for the interior work.
2.) To renovate the Chilmark fields, the last Village field in desperate need of rehabilitation.
3.) To continue to upgrade the Village owned fleet with more energy efficient vehicles.
4.) Continue to explore new paths to reduce costs and maintain our quality of services.
5.) Continue to push for an independent Coterminus Town-Village of Briarcliff Manor.
What are your thoughts about the state "tax cap" and how the village should handle it? Good start but does not address the total picture. While the concept is good it does not work. People are led to believe it is a 2% tax increase which it is not. Municipalities are seeing a decrease in revenues and with labor agreements in place find it difficult to maintain services without layoffs to stay under the cap. With exemptions to the 2% cap, such as additional pensions contributions the 2% tax cap will soon become impossible to attain as many municipalities and school districts have already discovered.
How should the village handle—and continue to handle—the county affordable housing settlement. How do you feel the county is handling the settlement? County should have never settled this matter as it did, however once Westchester County Legislature voted to accept the settlement the County and its municipalities need to find ways to comply. See accomplishment #20 above for Villages participation.
Would you be in favor of the potential annexation of Ossining Election Districts 17 and 20? Why or why not? I favor it based on the analysis. The Village was approached by Election Districts 17 & 20 in the Town of Ossining requesting Briarcliff Manor to consider their annexation into the Village. The Village Manager and Staff, at the Board's direction, did a detailed analysis of the costs, benefits and impacts. The results were that it would NOT negatively impact the current Village and its residents. It is further indicated residents in E.D. 17 & 20 would save significant tax dollars and current Village residents would see a slight decline in taxes. This is due to economy of size and better logistic use of Village staff. The Town E.D. 17 & 20 currently pays Briarcliff for Fire Services and the County for Police services.
Is there anything the village should or can do to address the limited number of athletic fields available to residents? The Village last year brought a new field at "The Club" on line. See item #6 above. One of our goals is to renovate the deteriorated Chilmark Field so it can be better utilized. The Village has also instituted "asset management" of all its fields so they are better maintained for a longer life span.
Can you share an example of something you think the current board does well or has accomplished? See items #1 thru #21 above! See goals #1 thru #5 above! The Board has had a philosophy since I became Mayor to truly work in a non-partisan way with no personal agendas. The Mayor is the "navigator & facilitator" to set goals, vet our issues, impacts, mitigating measures, determine costs and balance the equities of all the factors. The Board truly acts as a team and assigns a Board member as a "point person" for each goal/task. The Board hires consultants where necessary or delegates the Village Manager and staff to execute. One methodology is to modify and adapt plans as new information is provided or conditions change. Each Board member has different areas of expertise and we utilize those talents where we can.
Can you identify three areas of spending the board could consider cutting back in in the coming year? The 3 main costs to reduce are payroll, associated benefits and healthcare costs. These items make up the single largest cost to any municipality. This includes additional "make up" pension contributions that are dictated by the NYS Comptroller.
Editor's Note: Any questions not answered by the candidate were omitted from this article.