- Last Updated: 03 August 2016 03 August 2016
For those of you who, like us, have been frequently "refreshing" your Accuweather screen, you're in luck: the weather for tonight is looking good, and Timbawah will hit the Louis Engel Park stage at 7PM as scheduled. I hope you'll join us for some Latin jazz and maybe a stop at the Kona Ice truck. Take a break from the oppressive weather we've had all week-- we've earned it!
Unfortunately, the rest of the weekend is not looking as good, with lots of rain and even some thunderstorms expected for Saturday AND Sunday. Check Facebook for any updates on cancellations, but if the weather is looking rough, be smart and stay put.
If the bad weather doesn't materialize after all, we have a ton of great events lined up for the weekend, so check those out later in this update.
The Town Board has been on a reduced meeting schedule this summer, so our combined Legislative Session/ Work Session this week was lengthy. One of the most important topics we covered was the Public Hearing on Local Law #8 of 2016, which allows the Town to permit an exemption for eligible homeowners who will see an increase of 25% or more as a result of the Town-wide revalution. Due to tight time constraints in the Assessor's Office and no outstanding concerns from the Board or the public, we adopted the local law as well. The application is available at 16 Croton Avenue in the Office of the Town Assessor, and is also available on the Town's website. If you feel that you qualify based on the criteria listed on the application, please pick up or download an application and return it to the Assessor's Office no later than September 15th, 2016.
After we moved into our Work Session, we were visited from Rob Daniele from O'Connor Davies, the Town's independent auditors, for some information on our 2015 financials. I am glad to say the news is good, and that we even managed to add to our Fund Balances in several funds at year end. The Town is in good shape, and that result only comes from a lot of hard work and tough choices. I want to thank former Town Supervisor Sue Donnelly and the prior Board for leavng us in such a strong financial condition. We pledge to keep the progress going while continuing to provide exceptional service to our residents.
We had asked our Town Parks Foreman Mario Velardo to make a presentation on the work that needs to be done in our parks. Like most other Towns and Villages in New York, we have struggled under several years of a slow economy and the tax cap, and our parks and cemeteries show a lot of physical evidence of the cuts we've had to make to continue providing mandated services. The Board was presented with 14 park projects, along with a short list of equipment that will make the work easier, and a rough dollar figure associated with each project. There were also several smaller requests from Dale Cemetery along the same lines. The Town Board will revisit this project soon, but boy, do we have our work cut out for us. It is important, however, for our residents to know that we recognize that our open spaces should be better, and that we are working on a plan to address those needs in the coming years.
As a reminder, the Town Board will not be meeting next week, and will be holding a short meeting on Monday, August 8th at 8:30AM in the 3rd Floor Conference Room at 16 Croton Avenue to pay bills, appoint a seasonal laborer to Dale Cemetery, and approve the Cabaret License Renewal for The Briarcliff Manor. Our next full meeting will be another combined Legislative/ Work Session, and will be held on Tuesday, August 23rd at 7:30PM at the Courthouse on Spring Street, where we will re-open the Public Hearing on the Cabaret License for Westchester Ballroom, and will also hear from our Planning Consultant David Stolman about next steps in our ongoing Zoning and Planning Analysis.
Later dring the week of August 8th, on Wednesday, August 10th, the Town will be holding our 2016 Foreclosure Auction at 1PM at 16 Croton Avenue. There will be four properties auctioned, with three of the original seven having redeemed their properties over the past month. We certainly do not relish holding foreclosure auctions and do everything possible to allow people to keep their homes, but going through with a foreclosure is the only way we can ultimately protect the rest of our taxpayers. If you are interested in details on any of the remaining properties, you can download the auction packets here.
- Last Updated: 29 July 2016 29 July 2016
First things first-- there has been mention of a little damp weather on the horizon, but I hope you'll chance it and join us tonight at Louis Engel Park for the Waterfront Concert Series. Sundad will be playing at 7PM, and they put on a great show! Come on down and cool off by the water.
We also have a very cool Mind, Body, Spirit Ossining program this Sunday; at 11AM, Delphi Dance Ensemble will host a belly dancing class (don't worry, they will show us the basics first!), and will teach us about body acceptance and self-confidence. This is a program to which many of us are looking forward, and I hope you will join in at Louis Engel Park this Sunday.
We are scheduled for another few days of 90+ degree temperatures, so please be sure to take proper precautions (hydrate and wear sunblock), check on your elderly neighbors, and try to conserve energy as much as possible. Here are some tips from Con Edison:
- Con Edison offers a variety of energy-efficiency programs for this summer. The Smart AC Program connects customers with smart technology to control their room air conditioners from their computer or mobile device. Learn more by visiting: https://conedsmartac.com
- Set your air conditioning to the highest comfortable temperature. Every degree you lower the thermostat drives up your bill by 6 percent;
- To reduce heat and moisture in your home, run appliances such as ovens, washing machines, dryers and dishwashers in the early morning or late at night when it’s cooler outside;
- Cook with a microwave or barbecue outside, if possible;
- When the AC is running, close doors to keep cool air in and hot air out;
- Keep shades, blinds and curtains closed. About 40 percent of unwanted heat comes through windows;
- Even when using AC, use ceiling and other fans to provide additional cooling and better circulation;
- Turn off AC units, lights and other appliances when not at home and use a timer or smart technology to turn on your air conditioner about a half-hour before arriving home;
- Keep AC filters clean;
- If you run a business, keep your door closed while the AC is running. Don’t burn through your profits to cool the street;
- Replace old appliances with new energy efficient Energy Star appliances.
We will also have the Spray Park at Louis Engel Park open extended hours (11AM to 7PM), so head down if you feel the need to channel your inner child and splash around a little!
This has been a great week in Ossining. Last Friday night, the Ossining Police made a surprise announcement-- they would be hosting a block party for Ossining residents! The turnout was excellent, and the whole event was live-streamed through the OPD Facebook page. Thank you to all of the local businesses who donated food, drinks, or their services to our residents, and of course a big thank you to Chief Kevin Sylvester and all of his officers for going above and beyond on Friday and every day to make our community safe and welcoming to everyone. We are incredibly lucky to work and live alongside you all.
- Last Updated: 14 July 2016 14 July 2016
As you may know, last week Governor Cuomo signed the “phase-in” legislation proposed for the Town of Ossining, which allows the Town to institute an exemption allowing property owners whose taxes stand to increase to apply for a “phase in” of the taxes associated with that new assessment. We have received several questions from residents about how this legislation may affect them, and I wanted to take some time to address the questions as we move into the Public Hearing process.
The law itself ( you can find a copy here) allows for a phase-in for one, two or three-family homes that fit a defined set of criteria, including but not limited to STAR eligibility, having no delinquent taxes or building violations on the property, etc. So if the law has been signed by the Governor, you may be wondering where the Town Board comes in. The Town Board has the discretion to decide at what level of tax increase residents will be allowed to apply, and the decision made by the Town will be described in Local Law #8 of 2016, on which we have scheduled a Public Hearing for Tuesday, July 26th. As of now, the discussion has only addressed properties whose taxes would have gone up in excess of 25%, although this has not been finalized. It is also worth noting that properties are not allowed to apply for the exemption if their increase in taxes is a result of property improvements discovered as a result of the revaluation, or as a result of a lost exemption of another kind.
In the event that a property fits all of the necessary qualifications and is approved for the exemption, the taxes they are scheduled to pay in the coming two years will be “phased in,” so that in the first taxable year (using the September 2016 roll), they will pay 34% of the increase, representing an exemption of 66%. In the second taxable year (using the September 2017 roll), they will pay 66% of the increase, representing an exemption of 34%, until finally in the third year, they will pay 100% of the taxes based on their assessment.
If we illustrate this using real numbers, it may look something like this: A home’s value went up from $300,000 before the revaluation to $400,000 after the revaluation, and the property taxes on the home went from $10,000 to $12,500 as a result. Assuming this homeowner was qualified and successfully applied, they would receive an exemption, but only on the additional $2,500. In the first year, the tax bill would reflect 34% of the difference ($10,850), and in the second year, the tax bill would reflect 66% of the difference ($11,650), before coming to the full tax bill in the third year (for argument’s sake, we will assume there was no change in tax levy during this three year period).
We have gotten a few questions about how these exemptions will affect, if at all, property owners who do not apply for the exemption, whose tax obligation has not changed as a result of the revaluation, or those who are expecting a tax decrease based on a decreased assessment. The truth is that everyone’s bill will be affected for the two years during the “phase in,” but probably much less than you’d assume. Please keep in mind that any exemptions are only on the increase (in this case, $2500), not the entire tax bill.
According to our Assessor, there are just 572 properties of the 10,200 parcels in Ossining that would qualify based on the criteria using 25% as the cut-off, which is just over 5% of Ossining parcels. However, many properties that fit into this category have already filed a grievance with the Board of Assessment Review and will be lowered below the 25%. Additionally, property owners have to “opt in” to be considered for the exemption, and not everyone eligible will do so.
We have heard from a few of you that you feel it is unfair to those who have been long over-assessed, who will continue to pay more than your fair share in order for others to be granted this exemption, which is certainly a fair point. It is important to note that if you feel your property is over assessed, you are afforded the opportunity to grieve your assessment every year. However, an important factor of assessment is that properties can always be lowered, but without a full revaluation, there is no mechanism in place (in the absence of new construction) to raise individual assessments as property values increase. This exemption is meant to serve as a transition period to soften the blow for those who, through no fault of their own, have been paying less than the amount of tax that corresponds to the true value of their property.
I encourage you to follow our progress on this final stage of the reval—the process to enact this exemption will need to be a quick one, since the roll will be finalized by the Assessor on September 1st. The Assessor’s Office is hard at work preparing the exemption application, and we will keep you posted as to when it will be available and by what date submission will be necessary.
Additionally, we wanted to share some information about our Waterfront Concert Series, which this past week was moved indoors to the Community Center due to the threat of thunderstorms. A big thanks to everyone who braved the drizzle to join us, and a special thanks to Breakfast for the Boys and the Gyro Uno Truck for rolling with the last minute venue change.
I hope you'll join us for this week's concert featuring The Soul Projekt. This group is a big Ossining favorite (you may remember them from the 2016 Inauguration or from various other appearances around town), and the weather looks good for Friday night, so be sure to join us at Louis Engel Park for the show!
- Last Updated: 22 July 2016 22 July 2016
This continues to be a difficult time in our nation and the world. We all started and ended this week with very heavy hearts. On Tuesday, as I was thinking how to start our Town Board meeting, I happened to open an email from Nely Galan, a very inspirational woman I recently heard speak at Barnard College abouther new book "Self Made." Interestingly, she had some words which encapsulated many of my own feelings, so I quoted her (in a slightly condensed version), and I'd like to share her words with you here as well as they are just as pertinent regarding the events in France.
"To say the events of the past week in this country have been tragic would be a monumental understatement. We're a nation overcome with suffering, divisiveness, and an overwhelming sense of uncertainty. But as painful as all of this is to witness, in these moments, we must, in the inspiring words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 'accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.'
These are the exact moments when we must ask ourselves the tough questions: is this the best we can do? Is this the best I can do? What can each of us do every day to stand up for ourselves and for others? Are we being our bravest selves? Are our voices ringing loud enough to be heard? This is when we tap into every ounce of grit we have, for the crucial, if not sacred, sake of being part of the solution."
Here in the Town of Ossining, we have a dedicated community that has experienced some very difficult times in our past, but has rallied to find solutions. In the coming weeks and months, expect to hear more about what we can all do to find ways to heal, and to build. To all those who have lost family members in these tragic events, we send our love and prayers and promise to work harder, stand up for ourselves and others, be our bravest selves and help make sure everyone is respected and loved for exactly who they are.
We have been hard at work in the Town on a variety of projects, a few of which I'd like to share with you here. I mentioned that we had applied for an ADA-compliant kayak ramp and new kayak rack for Louis Engel Park, and we are now working on a CFA (Consolidated Funding Application) for an open space corridor project. The grant is due at the end of the month, and we are looking forward to sharing the proposal with you once complete.
We are also making progress on the sanitary sewer improvement project at 9A and Route 134. Our engineering contractors have been hard at work designing the project, and just this week, the Board approved survey work on the right-of-way to properly mark out the easement we will need once construction begins, and the plans were submitted to the Westchester County Department of Health for approval. We owe a big thank you to our Water Superintendent Andy Tiess and Highway Superintendent Michael O'Connor for guiding us through this process, and also to Highway Foreman Johnny Martin for visiting the site with me this week and coordinating with our engineers.
The Tax Office is also preparing for the Foreclosure Auction scheduled for August 10th. While this is not a pleasant process for anyone, following through with a foreclosure when property taxes are severely delinquent is the only way we can protect other taxpayers. If you or someone you know may be interested in purchasing one of these properties, you can find all of the information here.
At Tuesday's meeting, we adopted two new Local Laws, one to implement a development moratorium in the Town, and one to mandate the installation of "Emergency Access Systems", which is commonly known as a KnoxBox, which will help our emergency responders to enter properties in an emergency without having to break down doors or walls. We also set the wheels in motion for our Public Hearing on the "Phase-In" legislation for the tax impact from the Town-wide revaluation. The Local Law will be posted shortly--come and let us know what you think! The Public Hearing is scheduled for our next Town Board meeting, which will take place on Tuesday, July 26th at 16 Croton Avenue at 7:30PM. At that meeting, we will also hear from our auditors, O'Connor Davies, about the results of the Town's 2015 audit, and have a discussion about capital needs we've identified for our Town Parks and Dale Cemetery. I hope you can join us for this informative meeting.
We have some great events coming up this week, but I am most looking forward to the Waterfront Concert Series show featuring Soul Projekt tonight! I hope to see you there! Cool off with the nice Hudson River breezes and the sweet sound of jazz, soul, and R&B from this super talented Ossining-based band.
- Last Updated: 12 July 2016 12 July 2016
I hope everyone had an easy week back from the holiday weekend, kept cool in the heat, and is ready to keep the summer going with some great activities this weekend, starting with the Waterfront Concert Series show this evening at 7PM, featuring "Breakfast for the Boys"!
*PLEASE NOTE- the concert tonight has been moved indoors to the Community Center due to thunderstorms in the forecast! Come check out some great music, and grab dinner from the Gyro Uno Food Truck!*
Also this weekend, two more outdoor fitness classes will be happening through Mind, Body, Spirit Ossining, a program the Town is offering to get our residents out and moving while spending time in our beautiful parks and open spaces. Tomorrow night at 6PM, Kendra Rossney from Dragonfly Wellness Yoga Studio will be hosting a waterfront Yoga Flow class at Louis Engel Park. Then on Sunday, July 10th at 9:30AM, Enrique Rosario from ICU Fit Training will be hosting another "Sunday Fun-Day" event, also at Louis Engel Park. Come out and enjoy these free offerings and soak in some sunshine while you're at it! The classes continue throughout the summer, take a look at the Mind, Body, Spirit page for more information and dates to mark in your calendar.
Another exciting event this Sunday is the "EcoBeneficial Gardening 101" class at the Teatown Lake Reservation Carriage House, hosted by environmental horticulturist Kim Eierman. This program for adults promises some great information about how the type of plants in your garden, as well as the way you maintain them, can encourage a wide diversity of insect and bird species in your yard. Reservations are required: please call (914) 762-2912, Ext. 110, to hold your spot for this free event, scheduled for 10AM on Sunday, July 10th. Also at Teatown on Sunday will be a chance to practice "Shinrin-Yoku", or "experiencing the natural world on its own terms." Meditative walks are prefaced by an introduction to increasing awareness through the senses. This Sunday's adult meeting will begin at 9:45AM; if you decide to attend, please bring along bug spray and water and be sure to dress for the weather.
With the 90 degree temperatures this week, we have also increased hours at the Spray Park to keep everyone extra cool: through Sunday, July 10th, the Spray Park will be open extended hours (11AM until 7PM), and we will return to normal hours on Monday, July 11th (12PM to 6PM).
With the Town's reduced meeting schedule this summer, we had a little extra time this week to work on some long-term projects. We submitted a grant for the installation of an ADA-compliant kayak launch at Louis Engel Park, which will continue to expand recreational access to our waterfront. I also had the chance to sit in on a meeting about the proposed Sing Sing Prison Museum, where we heard from museum consultants, Lord Cultural Resources, with highlights from their Phase One report that contained recommendations for the museum's missions and goals, business plan, and visitor experience. Plans are moving along nicely and thanks are in order to Historic Hudson River Towns and Jerry Faiella for leading the charge. If you're interested in learning more about Sing Sing, I encourage you to attend an event hosted by the Ossining Historical Society (196 Croton Avenue) this coming Wednesday, July 13th at 7PM; Michael Capra, the Superintendent of Sing Sing Correctional Facility, will be on hand to engage in an informal discussion on a variety of topics related to the prison. Please RSVP by tomorrow by calling the Historical Society at (914) 941-0001 if you plan to attend.
If you missed the St. Ann's Fair in June, the Ossining Fireworks last week, or (like me) you just plain love festivals, make sure not to miss the St. Augustine's 39th Annual Italian Festival, beginning on Tuesday, July 19th and going through Sunday, July 24th between 6PM and 11PM. This great community event hosts rides, games of chance, music and delicious food, and on Wednesday, June 20th, there will be a fireworks show after dark. Not a bad way to spend a summer weeknight!
I know it seems premature, but we received notice today about Westchester Community College's Fall 2016 Afterschool Science Academy, and I just had to share some of the exciting course offerings they have in store. Right at the Ossining Extension Center of WCC, students will have the choice of studying Pullback Car Engineering or Vertical Access Wind Turbines, both of which could be the great start of a career in a STEM field. You can check out the application and session dates here.
If you are already an expert in Vertical Wind Turbines but still want to beef up your skills this Fall, WCC is also offering Heartsaver Training, which is a CPR/ AED course for the "lay responder", or non-medical folks. This American Heart Association Training will tell you how to help children ages 1 to adult, and the certification is good for two years. Get more information on how to protect your family and friends-- check out the Heartsaver course description and application here.
I notified everyone about this in my last update, but just as a reminder: the Town of New Castle has begun the process of reclaiming and repaving Spring Valley Road, a process that is expected to take another two weeks or so. The road will not be closed, but single lane traffic may result in delays. Please plan your travels accordingly.
Finally, the Town Board will be meeting on Tuesday night (July 12th) for a Regular Meeting/ Work Session at the Courthouse. We have a pretty packed agenda, but one item of special importance comes to mind. When the Town went through the reval process, the concern of many residents was that their assessments would increase to a level unsustainable for their family. As you may recall, I had asked our representatives in New York State to draft legislation to allow for a "phase-in" of certain assessments following the reval process over the past few years; they successfully carried it, and the Governor signed it earlier this week. The Town Board will be discussing our part in this process at Tuesday's Work Session, which will be to decide upon a level of increased assessment that will allow a property owner to apply for an exemption, and call for a public hearing to enact a local law setting that threshold. I am grateful to our legislators for taking up the cause of Ossining residents, and I want to extend my special thanks to Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, Senator David Carlucci, and to Governor Cuomo for allowing our eligible property owners to have some time to plan for this coming financial change for their families. Similar legislation was passed for the Town of Greenburgh, and LoHud published a comprehensive article about the process, which you can find here.
Please see below for some other upcoming events-- I hope to see you out and about this weekend in Ossining!
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Dana Levenberg, Town Supervisor
phone (914) 762-6001
fax (914) 762-0833
16 Croton Avenue
Ossining, NY 10562
The Supervisor's Office is located on the third floor of the Town offices. Office hours are Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm.