May 13, 2024, Mayor's Column

It’s this time of year that our business district springs to life with all its pluses and minuses. Certainly, the pluses are our incredible merchants who want and need our patronage as one only has to look around Westchester to know what a unique and vibrant Village business district we have. The winter was not an easy go for our merchants and that is evidenced by the downturn in sales tax revenue to the Village, which is in direct correlation to shopping locally.

Actual quarterly sales tax revenue growth has slowed since January 2023 with increases averaging approximately 1 to 2% per quarter as compared to double digit growth during 2022. As example, in the Fall of 2022, sales tax revenue increased 25% to the Village to $436,000 from $346,000. By comparison, the Spring 2024 revenue number is at $449,000 less than 3% above the fall 2022 sales tax numbers. The stagnated growth reflects consumer unease added to a sustained reliance on Internet shopping.

The Village’s constant campaign to shop close to home is so much more than a feel good - “it’s worth paying for”- mantra as researchers who study how money flow conclusively establish a profound economic impact of keeping money local.

When you spend out of the local sphere at big box stores and online realtors, “it flows out like a wound” as financial multiplier effects generated by a small store recirculates to their employees, often local residents, as well as area advertisers, attorneys, graphic artists, local printers, payroll services, donations to charities, accountants, restaurants, and fellow local suppliers of needed ancillary goods.

Children also benefit as they are afforded an appropriate and freeing degree of independence when allowed to walk to town for school supplies or an afternoon treat.

What merchants need right now is your patronage. They are a needed thread in the fabric of our Village. Many are generous to a fault to our charities, lookout for our children, know exactly what we like to purchase and genuinely care about our families. Schools supplies can be purchased now to get a head of the game; wonderful food treats can be packed and brought with you as you travel and gifts needed throughout the summer can be purchased right here at home before you leave. To continue to have a vibrant downtown, our merchants need to get through these quiet summer months with your help.

We are asking you to do your part by patronizing our shops and restaurants, and conversely, the Village has to do its part to make sure the business environment is safe, congestion is limited and interaction is pleasant and peaceful.

We realize the new congestion brought to the Village by the hard-working people from businesses such as Door Dash, Uber Eats and the never ending double, triple parking and scooter operations that often accompany their pick up. It is a difficult balance to say the least as most of the deliveries are directed to Bronxville homes and you desire their services.

We also appreciate that some of the folks spending time in the Village are not as hospitable to each other or to passersby. It is our job to make it better. To that end, the Trustees will be discussing, in complete unison with the police department, how we can offer a safer and more welcoming environment for residents and visitors. It all sounds quite easy, but it is not. We have to be mindful of the rights of those coming into the Village and have to handle our interaction quite carefully, as we cannot put the Village government and most importantly our police officers in harm’s way, both personally and legally. It is a delicate legal dance. For example, when we have an errant scooter driver our police department will not engage in a chase because it could end possibly injuring innocent by standers and so not worth the risk.

Due to some unforeseen retirements and injuries, our police department was down to a bare bone team. With the recent addition of three new officers, we are confident we can do more preventative operations in the business district during both day and evening. After this week’s Trustees meeting, I will be sharing what initiatives we agreed upon to institute in cooperation with our police department.

As a reminder only a police officer on site who witnesses a traffic and vehicular law violation, such as crossing double yellow lines, is legally allowed to enforce that particular violation. Statutorily, a parking enforcement officer has no authority to intervene.

We realize the quality of life in our business district defines our Village, and we welcome your suggestions as how to improve traffic flow, sidewalk safety and parking issues and ask that you share your experiences and observations.

If we work together, we can improve upon the quality of life in our business district.