CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. — The first fall election in Village of Croton history is around the corner, and two vacant Village Trustee seats are up for grabs. Democratic incumbent Ann Gallelli and primary winner Kevin Davis are on the ballot, running against unaffiliated write-in candidate Virginia Calcutti.
Gallelli, is a 70-year-old mother of two who's lived in the village for 38 years. Gallelli is retired after working as an entrepreneur and at IBM Corp.
Gallelli is finishing her fifth non-consecutive term as trustee, and has served 12 years non-consecutively as the Croton Planning Board chairperson.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
The Daily Voice: What are the three biggest issues facing the village of Croton?
Ann Gallelli: I think that always the biggest issue is keeping the property tax level low, and doing whatever we can to keep it there, and make it lower. The next is always maintaining and improving the services our residents want to see. And the third is to have a plan to expand Croton's possibilities in the future, that would in turn help our revenue base and contribute to the first two things I mentioned, which is keep our property taxes low and maintaining and improving our services and keeping the quality of life high, and making it even better.
The Daily Voice: How would you address those issues?
Ann Gallelli: For one thing, continuing to do what I've done in the past, which is keep a very, very careful eye on the budget and look for efficiencies in how we provide the services. But another way to do that, which is why it's a benefit that I'm a member of the [Westchester Municipal Planning Federation], you have to learn from other municipalities that are facing the same issues or problems we are. And very often, they have approached a problem that, if we had knew about it, might work for us.
Another thing that has to be part of this equation is we need to do things that will increase property values for our commercial district properties, and this will help, in the long-run, reduce the tax burden for the residential tax properties.
The Daily Voice: What were your biggest achievements in the time you've been village trustee?
Ann Gallelli: Most recently, it’s been my bringing together and promotion of two key committees which was the [Bicycle-Pedestrian Planning Committee] and the Economic Development Committee. I brought that committee together. And both of them in the last two years have been very productive. In the last two years we got a bicycle-pedestrian master plan, we got an economic development plan that resulted in the zoning changes to the gateway commercial district in Harmon.
I think, again, I'll go back to bringing a perspective to the board that's beyond Croton, because I do participate with other communities and I do think that's a plus, to bring that kind of information in.
The Daily Voice: What would you do to lower the tax burden?
Ann Gallelli: I already mentioned one, which is I think you have to promote appropriately scaled commercial development in our commercial districts, which will result in higher assessed values there, which will end up reducing the proportion of property taxes that residential property owners have to pay.
Another way, of course, is keeping a close eye on our parking lot, which is our single biggest revenue maker besides property taxes. And right now our parking lot is filled to the top, we have a huge waiting list, we have Metro-North showing the highest number of riders in their history and growing phenomenally and projected to keep up that growth for the next few years. So we have to continue to look at how we can maximize the revenue from our parking lot, and what kind of investment we have to put there to keep that a huge revenue source for the village.
The Daily Voice: Why should people vote for you?
Ann Gallelli: I would like people to vote for me because they feel that I do reach out and communicate well with people, that I bring differing groups of people together to work on differing issues of their own choosing, because I do bring new ideas from other municipalities on how to deal with things. Because I have a lot of expertise in certain areas and familiarity on how the village budget works, and I am an effective liaison between the residents and their government.