RYE, N.Y. -- Candidates for Rye's City Council tackled issues such as the tax cap and restoring civility among the council at a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters.
There are six candidates vying for three open spots on the council in this year's election. Republicans Kristin Bucci, Julie Killian and Terrence McCartney are running on the Rye United campaign. Democrats Meg Cameron and Shari Punyon are running on the Renew Rye platform. Jason Mehler is running as an independent. Killian is the only incumbent candidate.
The No. 1 issue many candidates brought up was taxes. All candidates said that the city council must work to keep its expenses down, and try to find savings in areas such as employee healthcare and pension costs.
McCartney said that the city has to work in its current negotiations with the police and firefighter unions to find a contract that is beneficial for both the city and the employees.
"Those are big issues for us and its part of the process, and we have to ask for our public employees to share in the cost of their healthcare, just like everybody else does," he said.
"We can't have people like golf club managers stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars," Cameron said. "We have to read every document carefully when we begin and catch waste and catch mismanagement and use what money we have more carefully."
"We have to do a city-wide review and be smarter," Punyon said. She said the city has to analyze what services it needs and find technological solutions and different ways of saving money. "You can't just keep cutting your way out of things, you have to try to be smarter about how you spend money."
Mehler said that the city has spent over $1 million in arbitration over the police contracts. "Meanwhile, who's getting money? Not the Rye City employees that deserve it, the attorneys are getting the money. What we have to do is we have to analyze costs, look at the expenses, and stop wasting our hard earned money."
"What I think we need to do is look for more solutions in other areas to raise revenue and reduce expense. Outsourcing is not something the city has really looked at," said Killian. She said that, although suggestions have been brought up, the city has not pursued them as much as it should have.
Bucci said that the city should work to reduce its unfunded liabilities for healthcare and pensions. She also said that the city could find savings in the negotiation process. If we were to negotiate a long term contract and really set out to show all our employees a measure of respect, we would get some of that back in higher productivity and fewer lawsuits and complaints filed with the city."
All the candidates agreed that City Council meetings have become too overrun with infighting and uncivil practices. They promised that they would all treat their colleagues and members of the public with respect, so that there was less bickering among officials and more can be accomplished.