As usual, we have so much going on in the Town! It feels great to live in such a magnificent place and to be part of a community who truly cares about the process of making government work. We continue to be proud of the transparency with which we treat each issue that comes before us- a visit to the Town of Ossining web page will encourage you find out about everything we are working on or have worked on in the recent past. Sometimes, each of us gets frustrated with how things are going, or the speed (or lack of speed!) of a project or process, but is essential to understand that everything takes time if done right. Please don’t allow the agendas of others to influence the depth of your own research- investigate for yourself to determine what is best for you, your family and friends, and your Ossining neighbors.
Police Services 2015-2018
In regard to the proposals (RFPs) for Police Services for the Unincorporated Area, we have received feedback from our residents and commercial property owners. As each of you are aware, it takes time to complete the review of any project or contract, and there are many steps to ensure that all parties exercise due diligence. We require a justification of costs, along with documentation of any “unknowns” that may occur within the span of a contract, which are both just as important as the bottom line. Some of the follow-up questions we asked of the Village of Ossining:
- We understand that for the first six months you plan on using overtime to man the shifts for the Unincorporated Area with the reminder of the year using experienced officers while the new officers receive some on the job training in the Village. Is that assumption correct?
- What does your contract read about seniority concerning overtime? Was that taken into consideration when developing your proposal?
- The Village agrees that it takes up to 10 (ten) officers to cover the shifts that we requested with days off, sickness and vacations. We are interested in seeing your spreadsheets showing the cost of the Town team of officers for the entire year. No names of course but the estimated cost per shift which of course was used to make your proposal.
- What is your policy on back-filling when there is sickness of an officer assigned to the Town? If it is to use officers on overtime has that been calculated into the proposal?
- How will the Village budget be affected (if at all) from this? If as the end of the year you find that there is a cost difference between the proposal and the actual costs that will be responsible for the difference? Will the Town be invoiced or will the Village taxpayers become responsible? We would also like to better understand if it is the opposite; if we do not spend the entire contract, would we be invoiced for the fewer amounts?
- Please identify to us what would cause the Village of Ossining to enact an increase (extreme circumstances) in the proposed price (please give a breakdown). We assume that breakdown of extreme circumstances would carry over for the entire contract. Is that a good assumption?
- While we do not have an SRO we currently have an officer at AMD throughout the lunch/recess period and at dismissal. What support does the Village of Ossining see for the school? We believe that the schools must be a part of any formal program so they understand and are partners in the program. Should the Village of Ossining be chosen and a program was established for working with the students in a proactive way, we have all the numbers (percent of population) from when we spent a few months trying to get others to work with us on the SRO position and would be more than happy to share those numbers and participate with the other entities.
507 North State Road
This will be the final update on the former Town Police Station.
It’s important that you have the facts:
- The bonds taken out for the building were necessary to create a functional police station, as opposed to office or commercial space.
- The building was appraised for $1,600,000 in 2013.
- Sale of the building: $1,475,000.00
- Savings on Broker Fees (Conservatively 5%): $73,750.00
- Savings on Interest Paying off "Callable Bonds" 2014: $357,451.58
- Savings on Interest Paying off "Callable Bonds" 2017: $105,390.00
- Savings on Budgeted Items in Police Lines for 2014: $28,000.00
- "Loss" of tax revenue for PILOT for the Town County and Schools: $95,000.00 (PILOT only applies to Town, County and School taxes- all Special Districts are paid in full and not discounted under a PILOT)
Also, consider the "soft" benefits:
- An occupied building enhances the neighborhood by keeping eyes on the property and the grounds.
- The business has brought 30+ employees to the community who will patronize other local businesses.
- AxisPoint will provide internships and consulting hours to the schools as part of the PILOT agreement, enhancing the already excellent public education system in Ossining.
- Other local businesses have welcomed the opportunity to have a corporate neighbor on North State Road.
Westchester County/ HUD/ Affordable Housing in the Unincorporated Area
After some discussion and a public hearing, the Town Board finalized some text changes to our Zoning Code at the July 22nd Legislative Session. These text changes can be found on the Town website in the Town Board document section and is labeled as “Local Law #2 of 2014”. We have submitted this information to the Monitor, who serves as the middleman between Westchester County and HUD. The concern was that the Town may not have had language in our Zoning Code that allowed the construction of affordable housing “as of right” in some areas. We are very confident that this will remove us from the list of communities who were asked to make changes, and are glad to move on with the business of running the Town.
While HUD’s issues are with Westchester County as whole, we did not want to be perceived as part of the problem. You may read in the papers how the analyses will continue; while we have little to no control over it, we did offer an opinion of behalf of the Town of Ossining. An excerpt of the letter:
“We have never understood why this community is classified in the third group, especially when one looks at the Town/Village relationship in the areas of Intermunicipal Agreements, actual borders of the communities and how they don’t exist anywhere but on paper, and the high degree to which the Town is built out with much of the remaining Unincorporated Area served by septic fields and well water. Between the Town and Village of Ossining, there are roughly 15 Intermunicipal agreements for such services as recreation, parks, finance, courts, shared office space engineering services, fire prevention services, ambulance services, to name a few. The Ossining community (Town and Village) should be a “poster child” for both the consolidation of services and as being a borderless community. For example, many of our roads are Village of Ossining on one side of the street, and Unincorporated Area on the other!
Ossining has always been at the forefront of the development of affordable living space by having a mandated 10% affordable component applied to every incoming development for years. I was on the Village of Ossining Board and served on the Affordable Housing Committee in the 2007-2008 timeframe, and attended meetings when the Town of Ossining passed their affordable component no later than 2010.
In respect to taxes in Westchester County, we feel it is essential to have all levels of housing and commercial properties in order to shoulder the high cost of living and doing business in Westchester, in order to provide the services and support the school systems. All of the residents in the Unincorporated Area, as well as the Village of Ossining and much of the Village of Briarcliff Manor, send their children to the Ossining school district, which excels in many areas of science, bi-language programs, athletics, art and music, among others. I am proud to say my children went through this great school system, and when anyone asks, I comment that the Ossining schools are amongst the most diverse in the country and prepare our children for the real world.”
Review of the Comprehensive Plan, Implementation of Recommended Changes & New Items as Needed; Development of the Board of Architectural Review
We will continue our monthly schedule of meetings to better understand and revise the 2002 Comprehensive Plan:
August 21, 2014 @ 7PM, 16 Croton Avenue- 1st Floor Conference Room
September 18, 2014 @ 7PM, 16 Croton Avenue- 1st Floor Conference Room
October 16, 2014 @ 7PM, 16 Croton Avenue- 1st Floor Conference Room
Additionally, the Town Board, Planning Board and EAC will work alongside the community on the development of a Board of Architectural Review, as well as the work of developing their “charge” and responsibilities to ensure that future development follows the path that our residents have an expressed an interest in continuing.
We will review the recommended changes, as well as new items brought to us from the residents and commercial property owners of the Unincorporated Area of the Town of Ossining. Some of the items to be discussed are environmental issues and setbacks- our goal is to make sure that the entire Plan is updated to reflect the vision of the community in 2014.
Please join us for these important meetings and share your input. The meeting last week brought up some great ideas, and we look forward to your help in shaping our future.
Budget Time 2015
During the month of August, we will begin our budgeting for 2015. We are so proud of the Department Heads and all of our employees in the Town for the great job they are doing in 2014- not only controlling the budgets and doing more with less, but getting so much important work done. As we review the requests made for each department, we will be ready to make changes we feel are essential providing top-notch customer service to all of our residents and commercial property owners.