LEWISBORO, N.Y. – Lewisboro Supervisor Peter Parsons’ first year as the town’s leader and chief financial officer was a hectic one – from the state of emergency caused by Hurricane Sandy to the controversy surrounding his first budget.
The Lewisboro Daily Voice sat down with Parsons as he looked back on his first year in office and glanced toward what lies ahead in 2013.
“First off all, I’ve enjoyed it,” Parsons said. “It’s fun to get to work with a lot of people and hear their complaints and even, at times, their praises.”
A relative neophyte when he came to office last January, Parsons said his first year came with several surprises, but says they were the subtle kind.
“For example, there are the New York State stormwater requirements,” he said. “I didn’t know it was hanging over the town with an absolute deadline to get it done. The other was the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). The town had slept on these issues for a very long time.”
Parsons said he’s proud both the issues essentially were taken care of in 2012.
As for the controversy that swirled around his first budget, which originally carried a 17 percent tax rate increase, Parsons says he has no regrets about proposing it. His only regret is it didn't make it through. It was cut down to a tax hike of approximately 6 percent.
“Our primary defeat was the lack of funding for road repairs,” he said. “But the majority opinion of the board ruled and that is what democracy is all about. On some issues, I've had to bend a little. I didn't like that I’m not putting out the budget I think is best for the town but I knew I would lose some things.”
Parsons said his first year in office also taught him how vital volunteers are to the town. He singled out three people in particular: Adam Ochs, head of the town’s Office of Emergency Management, for his work during Hurricane Sandy; Paul Lewis, who played a significant role in stormwater mapping project; and Greg Monteleone, who took over as chair of the Preserves and Open Space Committee and “injected a new level of energy.”
Looking ahead to the coming year, Parsons said there are several things on his “to do” list, including upgrading the town’s technology, including taking steps that would allow residents to use credit cards to sign up for Parks & Recreation programs online, and installing software that would help modernize the tax receiver’s and assessor’s offices.
Parsons also would like the town to create a long-range facilities plan.
“We need to have a facilities plan for this town,” he said. “We are we going? How much do we want to stay where we are? Do we want to continue to rent at Cross River? What do we want to do with Onatru now that it has an elevator and is ADA complaint? Do we really want the tax receiver and assessor offices to be five miles apart?”
The supervisor also said the town eventually will have to confront the federal affordable housing consent order in 2013.
“We will have to deal with it sooner or later,” he said. “Lewisboro had ignored it and it’s noticeable. We are beginning to paint a target on ourselves for the federal monitor responsible for the mandate.”