Written by By Cory Twibell, firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 07 December 2012 00:00
Westbury Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro ran for his current position in March 2009 during the middle of a fiscal crisis and was replacing a mayor that had been in office for nearly three decades.
Despite these circumstances, Cavallaro has proven to be the right man for the job, as evidenced in the village’s increased bond ratings, lack of tax levy increases and revitalized downtown, which is set to receive a significant boost once the Post Avenue theater opens its doors next year.
“When I was elected, I had big shoes to fill because Ernie [Strada] had been around for 28 years. We set out some priorities that we wanted to pursue, and from my perspective, I think we’ve done a pretty good job trying to accomplish those things,” said Cavallaro, who joked that Strada “got out at the right time” because since Ernie’s departure, the village had to endure two hurricanes and a blizzard in a three-year period.
Cavallaro noted that the Village of Westbury is one of the “very few” municipalities on Long Island with an increased bond rating since 2009, as the village’s bond rating has increased three times since Cavallaro took office.
“Those are the highest bond ratings we’ve ever had in the middle of a fiscal crisis of unprecedented levels going back 70 or 80 years. Despite those overriding issues, we’ve been able to run our house properly and see our way through without taking on any more debt or having tax increases that would’ve been hurtful to our residents,” Cavallaro said.
The mayor said that the village has reduced overall expenditures year over year and is spending approximately $280,000 less compared to his first budget.
“We promised to run the village with fiscal discipline and we’ve done that. We are really providing all the same services, and we’ve enhanced some of the services, but we’re doing it more cost effectively than we’ve ever done,” the mayor added.
Cavallaro said that the only area in which the village is using more discretionary spending is code enforcement, which he said has “definitely had a positive effect.” The mayor noted that the village has addressed illegal housing issues along with zoning and code enforcement violations through increased enforcement, performing housing sweeps, executing search warrants (when appropriate) and increasing fines for multiple housing violation offenders.
Though he has made himself available to residents on nearly every level – on the streets, in the office and online – Cavallaro said there are downsides to being in the public spotlight.
“Sometimes you become subject to unwanted attention and my wife and I have had four or five occasions over the last couple of years where we’ve had to report to Nassau Police incidents of either harassments or stalking behavior. I think it could’ve been politically motivated, I don’t know that for sure but I think it could’ve been.
“It’s been a bit uncomfortable but I’ve tried to focus on doing my job despite some of those things and they’ll flesh themselves out as you go on. It’s just not the type of thing you’d expect to endure or put up with but I guess that’s part of the deal,” Cavallaro explained.
With the next mayoral election set for March 2013, Cavallaro says he “fully expects” to run for a second term.
“Every time you come up on an election, you have to take it very seriously. I have some time to make that final decision but I have to deliberate over it and make sure you’re able to fulfill that four-year commitment.
“I’m obviously proud of what we’ve done and I think we’ve done a good job and I actually enjoy it so I’m hopeful that that’s the decision I’m going to make,” said Cavallaro.