Victoria Cafarelli, Budget Director
phone (914) 762-6001
fax (914) 762-0833
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
16 Croton Avenue
Ossining, NY 10562

The Budget Office is located on the third floor of the Town offices. Office hours are Monday - Friday, 9:00 am - 2:30 pm due to COVID restrictions.

 

  pdf Download the 2022 Tentative Budget (2.20 MB)

 

A Message to the Community Regarding the Supervisor’s

Tentative 2022 Budget

Dana Levenberg, Town Supervisor

October 20, 2021

It is hard to believe that we are now well into our second budget season still dealing with the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  I hope that you, your family and friends are staying well and healthy during these challenging times.  We are very grateful to now have lifesaving vaccines available, and I am proud to report that as of the latest data available as I write this, 81.3% of the 10562 zip code has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 80.5% of the 10510 zip code has received at least one dose as well.  Additionally, 72.5% of the 10510 zip code and 73.8% of the 10562 zip code are fully vaccinated.  With booster doses and authorization for vaccinations for children under 12 rolling out now, I am hopeful that we are finally turning a corner on this horrible virus.  Thank you to our incredible community partners, including the Ossining Vaccine Angels and Vax Up Westchester, Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Open Door Family Medical Center, our local pharmacies, and many more individuals and organizations for helping us get as many Town of Ossining residents vaccinated as possible. 

Unlike the 2020 fiscal year and 2021 budget season, which started with much uncertainty, we came into the 2022 budget season with a more certain, positive financial outlook for the Town.  Despite unprecedented challenges, we were able to keep spending down in 2020 and mitigate revenue shortfalls, and this is due in no small part to our incredible Department Heads who have continued to monitor their budgets very carefully.  Additionally, although you will not necessarily see this reflected in the 2022 budget, the Town of Ossining is set to receive an allocation of $568,203.42 in funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), half of which we received in summer 2021 and the other half we expect to receive in summer 2022.  This funding from the federal government is much appreciated, but we are limited in how these funds can be spent.  There are four main categories of allowable uses: 1) Responding to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts; 2) Premium pay for eligible workers in essential fields; 3) Revenue loss for government services; and 4) Water sewer, and broadband infrastructure projects.  At a Town Hall meeting in September 2021, the Town Board identified a few projects for use of these funds, including an allocation to the Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corps to continue its free COVID-19 testing and vaccinations to the community, as well as a much needed sewer infrastructure project to install monitoring systems at all of our sewer lift stations.  The ARPA funds do not need to be obligated until 2024, so there is time for the Town Board to make final decisions on how to spend these funds, but we feel these two main projects are in line with the spirit of the federal legislation to help the country recover from the pandemic and care for our infrastructure. 

The Town’s budget is the backbone of our operations.  It establishes our plan and priorities for the year, and is the reference point for most of our policy decision-making throughout the year. For those of you not familiar with the Town’s budget, the Town serves as the “umbrella government” for the Village of Ossining and the majority of the Village of Briarcliff Manor, and also serve as the direct government for the approximately 5,500 residents of the Unincorporated Town (actually exactly 5,626 according to the 2020 Census!).  Our budget is relatively small, compared to other local municipalities, but complex—the Town oversees multiple funds, the largest being the General Fund (everyone who lives in Ossining pays Town General taxes, and this is where most of our municipal services are paid for), the Unincorporated Fund (police, building, planning, zoning, and animal control services), and the Highway Fund (road maintenance and snow removal). In addition, we have several smaller Special Districts, which apportion expenses and debt from capital improvements to our sewers and street lighting, as well as contracts for service for refuse and recycling, fire protection and emergency response.

The 2022 budget will be the Town’s eleventh out of eleven tax cap compliant budgets in the era of the Tax Cap.  The Tax Cap is an important metric in our budgeting process, as we want to ensure we are providing necessary services to the community, while maximizing cost efficiencies.  This is increasingly challenging in 2021 as we are also faced by increased costs due to inflation and supply chain issues.  Tax rates are also directly tied to changes in the residential and commercial property markets, not just to our budget numbers, and these markets have been unpredictable throughout the pandemic.  We understand these calculations are complicated, and not as important to our taxpayers as the real “dollars and cents” are to everyone balancing their household and small business budgets.  We are happy to report that for the average residential assessment in the Town General, the annual increase in taxes based on the 2022 Tentative Budget is only $4.04.  And for the average residential assessment in the Unincorporated Town, the annual increase is only $81.12.  We are confident that with this nominal increase, you will get a lot of municipal value for your tax dollars.

As we look ahead to 2022, my Town Board colleagues and I continue to use equity as a touchstone for our decision making in policy and legislation, and that is evident in the 2022 budget. One of our biggest cost drivers, as in most organizations, is our staff. The Town of Ossining employs roughly 60 employees, with most of our employees belonging to two unions.  This past year, we negotiated a new contract with our CSEA unit, which employs nearly two-thirds of our union-represented employees.  A key feature of the salary schedule for this new contract is adding parity adjustments for some titles.  The titles that will receive parity adjustments throughout the life of the five-year contract were determined to be underpaid in comparison to similar positions in other municipalities.  Although the Town of Ossining has traditionally been more conservative in budgeting than other municipalities, it is important to ensure our staff is equitably compensated for their work, especially in a unit that is mostly comprised of employees who identify as female and are people of color.  For those employees on our staff who are not represented by a union, we applied a similar parity analysis approach to salary increases in 2022.  Thank you to the leadership of our CSEA unit for their research on this issue, and for proposing this solution which we believe to be fair, but also cognizant of our budgeting challenges.  This new contract with CSEA also adds Juneteenth as a paid holiday, and we intend on providing the same to the members of our Teamsters unit.  The leadership teams for both unions continue to work with us as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, and this past year, we agreed to a weekly testing mandate for all employees who are not yet fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  We are tremendously lucky to work with such progressive thought leaders in our union leadership.

We are close to finishing one of our biggest projects of 2021, our new Comprehensive Plan with Sustainability Elements, entitled “Sustainable Ossining.”  Utilizing a grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, this Comprehensive Plan will be a framework for our community for the next 10 years.  This plan evaluates sustainability through what we refer to as the “three Es” – environment, economy, and equity.  Throughout the planning process, although we have been constrained by limits on public gatherings due to the pandemic, we have sought to meet residents, business owners, and stakeholders where they are through virtual public meetings, online surveys, focus group sessions, and in-person activities at local businesses and outdoor community events.  I encourage you to learn more about this process, review notes from public workshops, and survey data at www.SustainableOssining.com.  Please also take the survey open through the end of October 2021 on the draft objectives and strategies, and stay tuned for public meeting and hearing dates as the final draft plan is referred to the Town Board for review and approval later this year.  Thank you to our dedicated Steering Committee members for their thoughtful input and participation during this year-long process.  Once the plan has been approved by the Town Board, we will turn our focus to a review of our Town Code, policies, and procedures to bring this plan to life. Additionally, we are planning to undertake an Open Space Preservation plan, as we have heard from the community and our Town Environmental Advisory Committee throughout the Comprehensive Plan process that open space, for both recreation and preservation, is extremely important.   

The Community Equity Task Force flourished in 2021, with a few virtual events held this past year for community education and advocacy.  This task force formed in 2019 in response to several unfortunate incidents where racial slurs and hateful symbols appeared around Ossining, including in our schools and parks.  The need for this initiative was reinvigorated in 2020, as we were inspired by the call to action around the country following the death of George Floyd at the hand of police.  Here in Ossining, we know our diversity is one of our strengths and we aim to be an inclusive and equitable community for all.  However, we also know we often fall short of this laudable goal.  The Community Equity Task Force is comprised of community members, leaders in municipal government, our library, and schools, faith leaders, students, young people, and more.  In the 2022 budget, we have dedicated funds to support the Task Force with administrative support through the Town’s community engagement consultant and funding for future educational efforts.  We have also included funds in the 2022 budget to support Ossining’s annual Juneteenth celebration, so we can all gather as a community next June to properly honor our nation’s complex history. 

As Supervisor, I have committed to regularly seeking grant funding wherever possible to offset costs to local taxpayers.  Since 2016, we have brought in more than $1 million in grant funds, and although grant opportunities through New York State slowed in 2020, we have reaffirmed our commitment to seeking grants by engaging a grant writing consultant in 2021.  In 2021, we have brought in some grant awards, including $150,000 in State and Municipal Facilities grants from Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick for improvements to the Ryder Park playground and Ice House at Cedar Lane Park.  We also made applications to the Community Development Block Grant program for site improvements to Louis Engel Park, including to relocate the comfort station to the southern end of the park, in anticipation of hopefully opening the beach as a bathing beach in the coming years.  We have also advanced the Millwood-Ossining Go! project, which aims to increase bikeability and walkability in the Towns of Ossining and New Castle and the Village of Ossining to connect downtown Ossining to the Empire State (aka North County) Trail in Millwood, with additional grant applications this year.  The largest grant we submitted was for $5 million to the Transportation Alternatives Program.  We will learn, hopefully in early 2022, if we will receive this large grant, which would be transformative in advancing this important project.

We continue to maintain our tax assessment roll at full market value, with reassessments completed annually based upon sales ratio analysis during interim years between full reappraisals, like what occurred in 2020.  As a result of this continued effort to keep our tax roll at 100% of full market value since 2015, we have seen a decrease in grievances, small claims cases, and tax certioraris, and/or success in court when cases do end up before a judge.  Reducing the frequency of these costly processes to contest one’s assessment helps the Town’s bottom line and ensures equity in our tax roll, as these avenues are often only available to those who can afford representation.  Full reappraisals are anticipated every five years in an effort to maintain accuracy in the roll, so we can expect another to occur in 2025.  Thank you to our Assessor Fernando Gonzalez for continuing this important process, which helps our residents and taxing jurisdictions by keeping the roll accurate and responsive to market trends on an annual basis. 

There is even more, in addition to those initiatives mentioned above, on our collective plate for 2022:

  • Our Parks continue to be a focus, as we make our open spaces a priority. In 2020, a group of neighbors in the Ryder Park area formed the Ossining Parks Habitat Stewards, and volunteered to complete invasive species removal and tree planting at Ryder Park, with an education component. We hope to continue these efforts in 2022 by dedicating part of our growing Tree Bank Fund towards tree planting and signage efforts. We are also planning on seeking grant money for more invasive species management—hopefully you will see goats helping us out in our Town parks in the not too distant future.
  • During 2021, the two major highway projects have been the McCarthy Drive Road Rehabilitation and Morningside Drive paving project. Morningside Drive is slated to be done this fall, and McCarthy Drive should be substantially completed by the end of 2021. In 2022, we will focus on a paving project on Tappan Terrace.  It has also been apparent for a few years that our current Highway Department facility does not meet our needs.  In 2022, in an effort to evaluate our needs in an informed way, we plan on completing a feasibility evaluation.
  • All Town Departments have been working hard to increase accessibility to Town services, especially online. In 2022, we plan on launching a new platform for our Building Department which will increase online accessibility of forms and applications. We will also wrap our website redesign, and explore a few potential options for increased access to Town Board meeting documents and personnel functions. 

The Supervisor’s Tentative 2022 Budget is available in the Town Clerk’s Office at 16 Croton Avenue, the Ossining Public Library, and online at www.townofossining.com.  There will be a short presentation on the proposed budget at the Tuesday, November 16 Town Board Work Session, which is scheduled to take place at 7:30pm via Zoom.  Here is the Zoom access information for the November 16 Work Session:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83682929245

Or Telephone:

            US: +1 929 205 6099 

Webinar ID: 836 8292 9245

The Ossining Town Board will also be discussing the Supervisor’s Tentative Budget with our department heads during the week of November 8 on the following days and times, via Zoom:

Date

Time

Department

Zoom Access

Wed., 11/10

9am

Clerk

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87478278553

Or Telephone:

+1 929 205 6099 

Webinar ID: 874 7827 8553

   

 

10am

Seniors

 

11am

Building/Planning/Zoning

 

1pm

Highway/Cemetery

 

2pm

Parks

 

     

Fri., 11/12

9am

Justice Court

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87588881230

Or Telephone:

+1 929 205 6099 

Webinar ID: 875 8888 1230

   

 

10am

Assessor

 

11am

Receiver of Taxes

 

1pm

Capital Projects Review

The Town Board will also hold a Public Hearing at 7:30pm on Tuesday, November 23 via Zoom.  Members of the public can join us on the evening of November 23 to view this Public Hearing and make comments by using the Zoom access below:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87043799252

Or Telephone:

                        US: +1 929 205 6099 

Webinar ID: 870 4379 9252

We urge members of the public to review the budget and either make comments at the Public Hearing, contact my office at (914) 762-6001, or email the Town Board at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

 

--Dana



pdf Town of Ossining - Fund Balance Policy (54 KB) (Passed by Town Board June 2, 2010)

folder Audits & Financial Statements - Archive

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Town of Ossining Fund Balance Policy

The Town of Ossining (the “Town”) has an important responsibility to its citizens to carefully account for public funds, to manage municipal finances wisely and to plan the adequate funding of services desired by the public, including the provision and maintenance of public facilities.

An important indicator of the financial stability of the Town is its un-reserved fund balance that represents the un-assigned and unencumbered balance of the Town’s revenues held in the Town’s numerous funds.

Download the Fund Balance Policy for full details...


 

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