- Last Updated: 19 March 2019 19 March 2019
It is really starting to feel like spring this week -- we are only a few days away! At last Tuesday's meeting, the Ossining High School Environmental Club got us excited for some warmer weather with their presentation on how we should open the Louis Engel Park Beach up to swimming. Thank you to Mr. Carlucci and his students Andrea, Brendan, and Brandon for their hard work in assessing the water quality at the site and the importance of improving access to the Hudson. We are still waiting to hear on some grant funds to complete a Master Park Plan for Louis Engel Park and opening the beach to swimming will certainly be a priority in that process. We are also hoping for some CDBG funds to help with implementation and make the Ossining waterfront a destination on the Hudson for all types of water recreation.
Last night, I attended a training held by the Westchester Municipal Planning Federation with Sandy Anelli from our Building Department and Ching Wah Chin and Jim Bossinas from our Planning Board.
As a member of WMPF, I attended this training focused on the SEQRA process to learn about any recent changes or improvements to this process and how it can help to protect our environment. Planning Board members are required to receive training each year and it was great to see the Town of Ossining represented well at this event.
We are still in tax exemption season, and you may have heard some news about changes to some tax exemptions. Below is a reminder shared by Town Assessor Fernando Gonzalez. Our Assessor's Office is always happy to help, and can be reached at (914) 762-8274 with any questions.
“The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance reminded property owners age 65 and over who are applying or reapplying to receive the Enhanced STAR exemption in 2019 that they must now enroll in the Income Verification Program (IVP). Those already enrolled in the IVP don’t need to take any action to continue receiving their Enhanced STAR exemption. New IVP enrollees will likewise automatically receive the exemption each year they’re eligible.
In the first year of enrollment, the assessor will verify eligibility based on the income information provided by the homeowner. In subsequent years, the New York State Tax Department will automatically verify eligibility. As a result, homeowners will no longer need to renew the exemption or share income tax returns with their local assessor’s office.
This change applies only to seniors 65 or older applying for the Enhanced STAR exemption or those who have the exemption included in their property tax bills. This doesn’t affect those who receive a check for this exemption because New York State Tax Department already verifies income eligibility. If you already receive the Enhanced STAR exemption but aren’t yet enrolled in the IVP, you must renew your application for the Enhanced STAR exemption and enroll in the IVP. The forms were already mailed to you, please submit as soon as possible but prior to May 1st, 2019.
If you’re also receiving the senior citizens exemption, you’ll still need to annually renew that benefit with your assessor. The renewal application would have been mailed to you the first week of February.
In the past, seniors who qualified for the senior citizens exemption were automatically granted the Enhanced STAR exemption. Beginning in 2019, you must apply separately for both exemptions.
The deadline for all exemption (Veterans, senior, disability, county firefighter, clergy, nonprofit organizations, etc..) applications and renewals is May 1st, 2019. Please call the Assessor’s office if you have any questions at 914-762-8274."
The Assessor’s Office is a great place to work—did you know that two of the five employees there have been here for almost thirty years? One of them is Sharon Palaia Assessment Assistant, 29 Years with the Town of Ossining. One of her responsibilities is to pull the sales/transfers from the County Clerk’s site and update the Town’s Assessment Administration System.
Each year, the Assessor’s Office processes an average of 700 sales/transfers, making sure the ownership information is kept up to date. This information is shared with all departments in order to make sure all correspondence, including tax bills, goes to the current owners and proper mailing address.
Deputy Assessor Al Closi, who has worked for the Town for 13 years, is our residential property expert, and a lot of his day involves working with building permits.
Each year, the Assessor’s Office processes roughly 600 building permits from the 3 building departments in the Town of Ossining (Village of Briarcliff Manor, Village of Ossining and Unincorporated Town). The Assessment Administration and Valuation systems are updated to reflect the new improvements on each property. This is necessary to maintain up-to-date and accurate inventory data on each parcel, which is necessary for the annual valuation process in order to produce the new Assessment Roll by June 1st.
It's time for baseball and softball season -- sign up soon for Ossining JCYS Spring Youth Baseball and Softball. Opening day is April 6th, which will be here before you know it. This weekend, on Saturday, March 16th and Sunday, March 17th, there are assessments for 9-12 year olds and teams will be forming shortly. Online registration is available here.
The Ossining Girl Scouts have been hard at work collecting more than 1,000 books in partnership with the United Way of Westchester and Putnam to be distributed to children in our community. This Saturday, March 16th from 10am to 3pm, join the Ossining Girl Scouts as they pack reading kits for children in the Ossining Head Start program, Ossining Children's Center, the Ossining School District's First Steps program, and low-income children and families at other pre-schools and daycares. This community service project is part of the United Way's United2Read Program, aimed at promoting literacy and boosting grade-level reading among low-income children. The sad fact is that 60 percent of low-income children do not even have one children's book at home and only 38 percent of children in Westchester and Putnam are reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade. Thank you to the Ossining Girl Scouts for filling this dire need! I hope you will consider stopping by on Saturday to help out or donate some books to the cause.
Tomorrow is the Pancake Brunch at Teatown -- one of my favorite events of the year! There will be seatings at 8:30AM, 9:45AM, 11AM and 12:15PM, for a hotcakes, sausage, coffee, and maple syrup produced right at Teatown. Every year, all four seatings sell out so if you haven't already, make sure to secure your spot by calling (914) 762-2912 x110 -- tickets are $13 per adult and $7 for each child under 12, and tickets cost even less if you're a Teatown member!
After you get your fill of pancakes, stop by the Ossining Public Library's Budarz Theater for a musical afternoon with a Japanese Drumming Concert featuring Kizuna Daiko beginning at 2:00pm.
Get your tickets now for next weekend's performance of "The Outsiders," Theater O's middle school winter production. The play, by Christopher Sergel and based on the novel by S.E. Hinton, is a powerful drama about friendship, class identity, and young people who are not yet hopeless about latent decency in the midst of struggle. Performances will be held at the Bethany Arts Community on March 21st - 23rd at 7pm. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at Theater O's website.
Next Saturday, March 23rd at 7:30pm, Good Choice Kitchen welcomes local musicians Fred Gillen Jr. and Sarah Browne for an evening of live music. Both Fred and Sarah will perform solo, then combine their prolific singer/songwriter talents as a duet, joining their poetic folk styles for what is sure to be an excellent performance.
On Thursday, March 28th at 7pm, author, actor, activist, and radio host, Malachy McCourt (brother of the late and legendary author, Frank McCourt), will be visiting the Ossining Public Library's Budarz Theater to discuss his newest book, Death Need Not Be Fatal, and share his musings on life with his trademark wit. Copies of the book will be available courtesy of the Village Bookstore in Pleasantville.
April 15th is one month from today! If you need some help preparing your 2018 taxes, check out this program at the Ossining Public Library. You could also call IFCA at (914) 941-5252 to see if you qualify for their free VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program.
Speaking of IFCA, congratulations to my colleague Councilwoman D’Attore, who also is the Executive Director of the Interfaith Council for Action. IFCA announced this week that they won a grant for $55,000 from the Wells Fargo Foundation to continue, and expand, their Financial Empowerment Program. We are incredibly fortunate to have an organization doing such great work in, and on behalf of, the Ossining community.
Finally, as you get a jump start on spring cleaning this weekend, don’t forget to sign up for the Green Ossining Community-Wide Tag Sale on May 4th. For $25, you will receive a double sided sign to advertise the sale, as well as a link to your home and the items you have for sale through the Green Ossining website, and inclusion in social media and Pennysaver promotion for the sale. Learn more at www.greenossining.org – the deadline to register is April 19th!