- Last Updated: 20 February 2019 20 February 2019
The snow earlier this week knocked us for a bit of a loop and we've been playing catch-up ever since! Our Tuesday night meeting was canceled due to the icy weather and we moved some of the agenda to a Special Meeting this morning, but we moved the Work Session regarding the Homestead Study to Tuesday, February 19th. The study, which the Board requested in 2018, was posted last week and we have invited some of the study authors to come and walk us through it. If you would like to join us, we will be at the Courthouse on Spring Street beginning at 7:30PM-- if you are not available to join us in person, you can stream the meeting live through the Town website or catch up the next day on the Town's YouTube channel.
In the meanwhile, I have been making the rounds this week as I advocated for our Town at the state and county level. On Monday, I joined Mayor Victoria Gearity and members of the Westchester Municipal Officials Association to attend the New York Council of Mayors Legislative Conference in Albany, where we were able to speak with our legislators and fight for the AIM funding that the Governor's proposed State budget is set to eliminate. For the Town of Ossining, we receive roughly $152,000 each year of AIM funding which is applied to offset some of our General Fund spending. If the State does not restore this to us in the budget, our taxpayers will have to make up the difference in their property taxes. We are in a position now where we are feeling squeezed from both sides-- while the tax cap is a good idea in theory, it is making us get more creative every year doing more with less. If the State is going to, at the same time, cut the very small stream of revenue they provide to us, they are in effect forcing us to raise property taxes on the local level to make up for the loss.
On Wednesday night, I attended the Eagle Scout Court of Honor in Briarcliff where Troop 18's Aiden Case, Sean Curvan and Jackson Ubriaco were recognized for their significant accomplishments-- each contributed an Eagle Scout Project to Ossining, at St. Ann’s, outside the Ossining Recreation Center, and at Teatown.
Be sure to thank them and congratulate them as well if you see them around town!
More celebrations ensued on Thursday, when I joined the Seniors in our community for the annual Senior Valentine's Day Breakfast sponsored by the National Honor Society at Ossining High School, with wonderful entertainment provided by students in Cultural Arts programs from our littlest to our high school seniors.
It’s always a wonderful way to have our young and old community members interact and break bread together. Thank you Ossining UFSD, and those who work for the Village Parks and Rec for their help as well.
Yesterday, I went down to White Plains to stand with the County Executive as he discussed asking the State to approve a 1% increase in the sales tax rate for Westchester County. This is an effort to not just help the County's revenue stream, but also ours-- a share of the increase will be passed along to the municipalities and to the school districts. We currently budget about $700,000 per year for this revenue, which is all applied to the Unincorporated Area budget, so this increase can only help. Our current sales tax rate is lower than that of our neighboring counties, and this proposed change will bring us level with them, so we can remain competitive in terms of attracting businesses and retailers.
Then today, County Legislator Catherine Borgia and I visited the Veterans at the VA Home in Montrose and brought them some valentines made especially for them by the Ossining Girl Scouts. Special thanks to Victoria Cafarelli and Ellie Schaffer, the Voluntary Services Specialist at the VA Hudson Valley, for coordinating this effort. We have done it the past few years and I know how much it means to these gentlemen to get some extra recognition on a special day. Today we also got to distribute ice cream to the Vets as we thanked them for their service. Boy do they love ice cream!
Today was also a big day in the Town-- after an extended medical leave, we welcomed our Town Clerk Mary Ann Roberts back to work! Town and Village employees gathered at 16 Croton to give Mary Ann a squeeze and enjoy some breakfast together. The Finance Department was also celebrating a birthday, so Mary Ann and Liz each got a cake this afternoon. You'd think we'd all be running a marathon tomorrow, because there was some serious carb loading going on today!
Thanks to my Confidential Secretary Victoria Cafarelli for stepping up to the position of Interim Town/Village Clerk during Mary Ann's absence, and also to Ann Marie Rocco and Christina LoBue in the Clerk's Office for hustling these past few months to ensure that our residents would see no difference in level of service.
We have gotten some interest in the Toilet Replacement Program we advertised last week, which is now available to Town residents. The Village of Ossining has invited the Town to take part in a water saving initiative that could help you buy a high-efficiency toilet with a $200 voucher. To see if your property is eligible, check here.
Tomorrow is a big day for yours truly-- for their second year, I have agreed to "take the plunge" and run into the Hudson River for charity. This year, proceeds are going to benefit the Emergency Shelter Partnership, which provides emergency shelter for individuals in need of shelter through March 31st in Mt. Kisco, Bedford, Armonk, Katonah, Chappaqua, Briarcliff, Ossining and Croton -- while it's fun to get cold for charity, it's not fun to sleep outside. You can donate at www.gullottahouse.org or come on down to the Engel Park Beach at noon tomorrow and show your support in person! The temps should be in the high 30s, but it is a bit cooler on the water-- make sure to bundle up if you head down to see us "plunge!" (I will be bundling up tonight, hopefully it will carry me through tomorrow!)
There is a lot of live music happening tomorrow (Saturday) night too-- check out Jeff & Desiree Jolly, all the way from San Francisco, singing their original roots rock & soul at Good Choice Kitchen beginning at 7:30PM. There is no cover, and your first drink is free to celebrate the 2nd Anniversary of Good Choice Kitchen bringing their amazing vegan meals to us here in Ossining. Make a night of it and order dinner while you listen, the kitchen will be open and serving!
You can also check out Christos Rafalides & Manhattan Vibes at Westchester Collaborative Theater on Water Street as part of the 2019 Jazz Masters Series.
As part of their Health and Wellness Series, the Ossining Public Library will be hosting Beverly "Aminata" Spencer for an hour of relaxation and sound healing on February 23rd. Check out this ancient approach to health that is regaining popularity in the modern age-- all you have to lose is a little stress!