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Village’s AAA Bond Rating in Jeopardy? – The Band Plays On Despite Loads of Bad News

In Uncategorized on December 4, 2008 at 2:07 pm

Village of Ridgewood CFO Dorothy Stikna disclosed during Wednesday evening’s Village Council Work Session that the Village’s AAA Bond Rating could be at risk because of the increasing percentage of debt service as compared to the Village’s overall budget.

During a discussion about financing the controversial North Walnut Street parking garage/retail complex, Village Manager James Ten Hoeve had informed Village Council members that municipal AAA Bond Ratings generally become subject to scrutiny when the debt service percentage approaches 10% of total budget.

Following Ten Hoeve’s comments, Ms. Stikna was called to the meeting room podium where she confirmed that the Village is now approaching the 10% debt service/total budget ratio. A loss of our AAA Bond Rating would definitely result in higher costs for borrowing money.

Despite the startling revelations regarding upcoming Village Hall layoffs and a possible increase in interest rates, Village Council members voted to:

1) purchase the Schedler property on West Saddle River Road for an as yet undisclosed amount (“to preserve the integrity of the neighborhood” – Village Mayor David T. Pfund)

2) proceed with plans to construct $10 million parking garage (preliminary cost estimates) and retail complex on North Walnut Street

Surprisingly, Deputy Mayor Keith D. Killion and Councilwoman Anne Zusy both voted “yes” to continue funding the controversial parking garage project. Killion and Zusy had both opposed this project prior to May’s Village Council election.

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  1. this is very serious perhaps we need to ditch the 350,000 toilet at Vets

  2. It is beyond outrageous that the two new members would vote for the garage. That garage is the Village deathknell. What neighborhood are we hoping to preserve by buying the Schindler property when we are allowing the rest of the Village to be systematically destroyed?

  3. The parking building and its uses enhance the business district and surrounding properties. The three invited consultants presented plausible recommendations. Select one and get going. The consideration of the purchase of that route 17 property… does nothing but, add a Village debt..and loss of tax revenue. It does not produce income of any sort … we will always have need “for more fields”… we must leaarn to deal with what we have, period.

  4. Are we going to get more fields at the cost of greater housing and business density?

    Open space is great but is no substitute to an overall feeling of space in the residential and business parts of town.

    Open space is what is ultimately desirable, but don’t contrast that with the high rise and bulk of Valley Hospital.

  5. We need more open fields and less dense building. That’s what living in a high end suburb is all about.

    The dense minded folks should all move to Patterson, and perhaps the VC could lead the way on that issue.

    Yes, it may mean we pay higher taxes — but open space, less crowded schools and less congestion is why we live in a nice town to start with. It is also what keeps our property values high. The trouble with the new VC is that it is still taking us down the path laid out by the old VC where we live in a pseudo-city and pay high taxes. I was hoping the newbies we voted for would lead us in a different direction, but I quess not. Can we do a re-vote?

  6. hummm not what i heard, I heard anne and keith voted to continue looking into the the idea of parking and the proerty given there is no money avalible

  7. These comments crack me up. More open space? Go live in the sticks.. YOU LIVE IN THE MOST DENSLY POPULATED STATE IN THE NATION!!! IN THE LARGEST COMMUTER ZONE IN THE AREA! Be happy you DON’T live in Paterson. Have you even gone to a council meeting and made a stance against any of these decisions? Probably not. If you don’t like what is going on the get involved to do something about it instead of complain on a blog!

  8. I think that Ridgewood should not purchase the Schedler property at this point. They grossly overpaid for Habernickel property and I don’t think they should do the same now. I find it appalling how they are willing to so easily spend my tax money on stuff that the village overall is not in favor of, because a few very vocal proponents go to the meetings. I am in favor of open space over development, but are we expected to pay $8 million dollars for this? These are tough times and I am personally scrutinizing every dollar I spend, why can’t they?

  9. Dear 254:

    You miss the point, you sit on the town council or you are just plain ignorant. The idea is to preserve what we now have and not degrade our quality of life — no one is under an illusion that we are going back to the days of the Indians.

    And yes, we do make our voices heard at council meetings and otherwise. In fact, one way of getting likeminded and otherwise busy residents both involved and stirred up is through contributing to this blog every once in a while.

    I love reading hypocritical blog entries like yours, proclaiming, in effect, that you are too good to tune into this blog and that everyone who writes a comment is a loser.

  10. How about preserving the neighborhood around the hospital? We will let Valley systematically ruin one neighborhood yet we will preserve another. We wasted our money on Habernickel. Why did we even purchase Habernickel? It is a joke!!!

  11. Short sighted amateurs who are full of themselves are running this town into the ground. We put a Christmas Tree where no one was asked if they wanted it there. Now we’re spending money we don’t have. This is becoming one autocratic government. What’s next? Will they tell us when to put our lights on and off at home under the guise of going green? Oh, it’s good to be King(Queen)!

  12. All those opposed to the garage and/or more retail space should go to the Dec. 10th public council meeting to speak their mines. It may be our only opportunity and if one reads the news, municipalities are in trouble along with the retail businesses. Not a good time to bring on more debt and build a garage.

  13. Will that be the only opportunity to comment? Probably worth a letter to the council if you can’t make it personally, or perhaps someone can forward this blog chain.

  14. Dear 501
    No where did I insinuate that anyone on this blog is/was or will be a LOSER. You shouldn’t be so insecure. What I am being is realistic.
    The price to pay for living in a commuter town with a train station, and retail business is over-crowding. To accommodate this over-crowding more structures need to be built. Kind of like this valley expansion everyone is crying about. A very over-crowded, impossible to navigate piece of property that, if not used to service so efficiently the residents of Ridgewood and immediate surrounding towns, would have the Villagers in an up-roar. (If Valley ever goes bankrupt remember what I just said, people will cry like babies.) No one is ever happy with anything around here. There’s no parking, build a garage.. No, don’t build a garage because it brings in negative revenue.. so we’ll charge to park there.. oh God forbid! TAX PAYERS would have to pay to park! TAX PAYERS have to pay to park in shore towns so what makes Ridgewood so special?? It’s the price THEY pay for living at the shore! Do I agree that buying an overpriced piece of property to build a garage using builders/designer/architects that are as corrupt as they come is erroneous in this current economy? Yes, yes I do. Maybe if we suggest other options that aren’t absurd during these meetings that they can at the very least meet us half way on we can get somewhere with this.. But people have to be willing to give a little to get a little which from what I understand is near impossible around here.
    All towns, not just Ridgewood, are corrupt, (it’s the price we pay for living in the most corrupt state in the nation.)Until the lefties in this state start voting in people that will actually stop contributing to the blob, expect things to continue.
    Continue going to your meetings and raise your voice. Go and get petitions signed, and also go try to have the current administration ousted. I’m sure there is a way to do it, they did it to Nixon. Spread the word to your fellow Villagers to vote against the incumbents, that’s most likely where you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

  15. Hey, doesn’t anyone in this town understand that we are in a recession?

    To the ‘it may mean we pay higher taxes’, we already pay higher taxes!!!

    Enough is enough, we are not spending at home, we shouldn’t be spending in local government…and that would include the BOE too!!!

  16. Don’t blame the Mayor for purchasing Schedler. That was Pat Mancuso’s private crusade. The Village Council was not prepared to approve the purchase because they questioned whether the Village could afford it. However, Mancuso and the Open Space Committee insisted that “we have no choice” and didn’t seem to worry about raising taxes. Why does Ridgewood seem to think that taxes are the only way to pay for its financial needs? I wonder where they are going to get the additional $2mm to develop the property after they buy it.

    I heard the plans call for lights at the new field and that the neighbors have agreed to go along with that. Sounds like Pat is about to get a good lesson in NIMBY politics. The minute the field is paid for, all the residents will pretend that they never agreed to lights and the field will end up the subject of another endless debate over how to resolve the disagreement. Have fun Pat. This one is all on you!

  17. One must ask, how long does Pat plan on living in Ridgewood. He sold his large home on Beverly years ago and now lives in a condo.

    He doesn’t feel the sting of our high taxes like the rest of us any longer. And as for more debt, what should he care, he wont be here to have to pay it back.

    Pat I love you but this is not the time to spend money we don’t have.

  18. 6:07… you are right… money we don’t have or will ever have.

    No…No… Mancusco has got to go….

  19. The town can’t keep up with the maintenance of it’s current properties. Habernickel’s is a joke. Make the Rte 17 property commercial and get a collect the taxes.

  20. I’m in agreement with many of the prior posts regarding not moving forward with acquiring the Schedler property and also not building the toilets at the field.

    Given the current economic environment, fiscal discipline certainly is in order. Look at approval of emergency appropriations from 12/10 meeting-
    Approve Emergency Appropriations – Current Fund – Makes an emergency appropriation for various departments in a total amount of $332,548 which is necessary due to the fact that the Uniform Construction Code Trust Fund will not generate sufficient revenues to support its indirect expenses for the Current Fund Operating budget for these various departments

    In addition, you would have to imagine next year’s budget will be facing a big hole in terms of higher pension costs given most pension funds are down 20%+ this year and this is one of the largest expenses in the budget.

    Since I moved to Ridgewood 5 years ago, I have been appalled by the village’s lack of fiscal discipline (spending on putting greens,etc.) and inability to manage large capital projects (village hall reconstruction, Habernickel farm development). Why will the Schedler property be any different? Also, the Village would be giving up $40k in annual taxes as an undeveloped property plus how much in additional costs (insurance, etc.) where the Village really needs all the revenue it can get at this point.
    I’d rather see Schedler developed as single family homes or as a commercial space where we can get more property taxes.

    There’s nothing wrong with open space but the problem with Ridgewood is they haven’t shown any ability to manage or maintain properly their existing open space.

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