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Smayda Welcomes White Plains Council Presidency

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – As the new president of the White Plains Common Council , Beth Smayda, said she hopes to use her background in public finance to help the all-Democratic council navigate the economic slump.

“My big emphasis is going to be ensuring that we have a good understanding of the impacts of the things that we approve from a financial perspective, whether it’s a regular operating budget or the capital program,” Smayda said.

Smayda, who joined the council in 2010, was unanimously selected to lead the six-person council for two years at its Jan. 3 meeting. She said she greets the new position with enthusiasm, especially the challenges facing the city.

“It’s a great opportunity to work with the mayor and my fellow council members on some of the challenges that are facing the city here with the property tax cap and declining assessments and meeting the needs of employees during difficult economic times,” she said.

The council president added that she also wants to focus on keeping the public informed about council meetings, discussions and decisions. As White Plains develops a new website, Smayda said she will work to ensure that meeting agendas and minutes are posted online, which is required under a news bill signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week.

Although Mayor Thomas Roach is technically a seventh member of the common council, Smayda said the council president typically plays a key coordinating role in gathering feedback, working through disagreements and building a consensus between the administration and the council people.

“We have people on the council that bring all different skills and so it’s just important for us to keep communicating and bettering each other’s skills as we make these decisions going forward,” Smayda said. “That’s part of my role.”

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