Written by Ann Sweat Monday, 18 May 2009 17:41
At the April Central Westbury Civic Association (CWCA) meeting, President Emma Wright introduced Mayor Peter Cavallaro as a lifelong resident of the village of Westbury. Prior to being elected mayor, Cavallaro was a board trustee for 10 years and prior, a member of the planning board for 12 years. He was elected mayor in March, receiving almost 70 percent of the votes.
Wright described many of Mayor Cavallaro’s attributes, including that he has been active in many other governmental, professional, community, political, philanthropic and charitable endeavors. He and his wife, Diane, are deeply committed to and are active members of St. Brigid’s Parish.
Mayor Cavallaro greeted the CWCA and other community folk warmly and expressed his gratitude for their support. He even thanked the community members who did not support him stating that, as mayor, he will represent and serve all the people in the Westbury community. Mayor Cavallaro stressed the fact that he welcomes the opportunity to impress those who did not support him enough for them to change their minds on the accomplishments to be made.
Mayor Cavallaro shared some important statistics, including the 2009-2010 village budget tax increase, which is 6.9 percent and will calculate into an additional $76 per household. Mayor Cavallaro explained that he had analyzed every line and item of the budget. To share the rough economic time taxpayers are feeling, elected officials salaries were cut: the mayor’s salary decreased from $12,000 to $8,000 with trustee salaries cut from $7,000 to $6,000. He said there is a 12 percent decrease in garbage tipping fees and told us that cuts were made in the budget due to the elimination of opened positions that were not filled.
The only department that experienced an increase in spending was the code enforcement and this, said Mayor Cavallaro, was because of the activities of illegal housing, etc., and plans to hire an additional code enforcement officer for evening and weekends. He also discussed that the village’s plans to expand its recycling programs and that this will save $10,000.
Mayor Cavallaro assured us that surplus funds will not be touched at this time; this fund is for a rainy day. The realization, he said, is to not spend money you do not have.
According to Mayor Cavallaro, Deputy Mayor Joan Boes and Westbury Village Recreation Director Michael Jackson have been selected to act as village liaisons with the Westbury School District. Additionally, he stated that village officials have been talking on and off with leaders of the Islamic Center of Long Island for a couple of years in reference to their intention to build a Sunday School. The mayor stated that there is a significant parking issue but that the mosque, which owns several houses in the immediate area, plans to remove the homes to establish parking. The Islamic Center of Long Island is preparing to go before the proper village officials and boards (trustees, planning and zoning) to obtain variances.
Cavallaro discussed how the village has the obligation to protect the neighbors and how the Islamic Center needs to be more considerate of the neighborhood and the neighbors have to work with the center. In the past, fines have been placed on several pieces of properties the Mosque owns. The mayor, along with Trustee Steve Corte and Senior Building Inspector Bill Mello, continually monitor the code to assure they are enforced. According to Cavallaro, religious institutions are given a bit more latitude than residences.
The question-and-answer session was long, however, Mayor Cavallaro answered all 20 plus questions and took the time to speak personally with several members and community residents.
This was one of the most exciting and rewarding meetings CWCA has held, and President Wright said it will be a pleasure working with Mayor Cavallaro just as it was with Mayor Ernest Strada. She said she is looking forward to Mayor Cavallaro coming back.
CWCA will hold its next meeting on Tuesday, May 26. At this time, the association will welcome North Hempstead Town Clerk Leslie Gross as the guest speaker.