Letter to the Editor: Former Sleepy Hollow Mayor on Outstanding Village Loan

To the Editor:

A candidate for Village Trustee on the TAG slate has inaccurately stated that the Village borrowed $30million dollars with no plan to pay it back. That is patently untrue. As I was Mayor at the time the money was borrowed, I feel I have to respond.

The stated purpose of the loan was to start construction on the 28 acres of the old GM site, east of the Metro North track, including infrastructure improvements and a new Department of Public Works. The current DPW facility is decrepit, undersized and has a significant risk of flooding (which raises serious environmental concerns). Our crews deserve a better and safer place to work.  And we have an obligation to account for additional services as Edge on Hudson comes online.

The payback schedule, with debt service included, was presented to officials on the Local Development Corporation, the Village Board, and the NYS Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council. The entire plan was heavily vetted by the commercial bank before we secured the loan. (The LDC negotiated very favorable terms for the loan, including an interest rate of 3%).

There are two things this Village has never had: public access to the Hudson River and a singular space where our diverse neighborhoods can come together. We designed a park, the Common, that not only provides access to the river and gives the Village a connected, central focus, but also allows our public spaces to be integrated within a larger system of County and State parks. This is why the County and State have already invested millions of dollars in this vision. They realize that Sleepy Hollow represents an extraordinary opportunity.

But back to the numbers. When I left office a year ago, the annual operational budget was in good shape. We had held taxes well below the inflation rate in Westchester County and we had a strong fund balance. Over the next five years, we expected to hire additional police officers, sanitation workers, and Village staff to serve the new Edge neighborhood which, as a reminder, will grow our Village by one-third.

We are receiving one-time development fees from Edge ($10 million outstanding), new tax revenues from Edge and other new properties in the Village. (As a precaution, we did NOT count the commercial and hotel properties in our revenue assumptions in our financial pay-back plan). I haven’t seen the numbers TAG is touting on the campaign (has anyone?) and can only speculate on their intent. But what is clear is that all meaningful progress has stopped.

(Another crazy number that is kicking around in print — only 395 people voted in the last election?  Hell, I got more votes than that and I lost!  For the record, some 1225 people voted.)

I have made myself available to the new Mayor to help explain all of the planning we did.  (It can get pretty complex, as most developments on this scale do.) I spent a quick hour and a half with him on the day he was sworn in going over details of then current Village projects. Since then, he has not reached out to me. If you have been told otherwise, it is not true.

Honestly, I don’t understand where this misinformation is coming from, but I hope I have clarified somethings.  

On Tuesday, please be sure to vote.

Ken Wray

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