Let's start with a big shout out to all the special women in our lives-- this Sunday is Mother's Day, and I know there are so many "moms" in my life who have taught me, guided me, helped me, and encouraged me. Happy Mother's Day to all the moms, grandmas, step-moms, and moms of furry children out there, this weekend is all about you!

 

 

We have a wonderful host of activities going on in Ossining this weekend, so I will get to those shortly. However, we have a lot of important work going on that I want to share with you first.

 

 

On Tuesday evening, the Town Board held our regular Legislative Session at the Courthouse on Spring Street, and we had several guest appearances. Our first item was a special recognition of the Gullottas Fight Cancer team, who has been actively raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Team Captains Amilia and Matthew Jr., along with several of their teammates, joined the Board and Michele Lippen from LLS to celebrate their accomplishments thus far-- as of Tuesday, they had raised $33,700 towards their goal of $50,000! If their efforts until now have been any indication, I have no doubt that they will meet and exceed that goal before the deadline. Congratulations on behalf of all of Ossining to Gullotta House and the team for a job well done! 

 

 

 

Do you want to help Team Gullottas Fight Cancer? You have many chances coming up! Check out these cool events and get them to their goal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

None of those dates free on your calendar? Consider donating right here.

 

 

At that same meeting, we had a visit from our Receiver of Taxes, Holly Perlowitz, who gave us a great update on how we're doing with Town/County collections for 2018. She let us know that we have actually collected almost half a million more in 2018 than we had in 2017 by this date, which is very exciting, but may also be a result of the Federal SALT (State and Local Tax) legislation that will prevent deductions over $10,000 beginning this year. You may recall that we had in excess of 400 taxpayers come in prior to January 1st to make payments towards the Town portion of their bill, which probably put us a bit ahead. It could also be Holly's awesome email updates-- you can sign up for them here. Holly also discussed the ongoing possibility of the Charitable Trust option, which has been proposed at the State level and would, in effect, make your tax payment a donation to the Town, which would allow it to continue to be fully deductible. There is still no clear path on this, so we are all in touch with our various associations and are looking forward to learning more about this idea very soon. However, this is just one more reason why municipalities must focus on finding savings for our property owners-- if there is no way around the SALT legislation, it will mean that folks will be even more focused on every dime that we spend, and we need to be prepared to be even more nimble going forward.

 

 

Yesterday, Budget Director Maddi Zachacz and I attended the Shared Services Meeting at Westchester County Center. Municipalities and school districts from throughout the County were in attendance to learn about how we might use last year's submission as a jumping off point to find new and more thoughtful efficiencies.

 

Fortunately for Ossining residents, both the Town and Village of Ossining have long been participating in shared service agreements and continue to do so to this day. However, there is always room to save-- we are constantly looking for ways to partner with our neighbors, including Westchester County, to help us do more with less. Getting school districts in the room is of great importance-- local governments like the Town and Village make up an incredibly small percentage of your tax bill, and the same can be said about the County portion. One suggestion that continues to come up are the consolidation of backoffice operations between school districts (payroll, technology, etc.), and possibly even with municipalities, so perhaps that may be a place to start. In any event, I look forward to participating on building this plan by the June deadline and making the Town's voice heard at the County level.

 

 

Also, yesterday was a big day in Ossining, as we had a bit of a staff shift come to fruition. After four years working for the Town Parks Department, Juan Toribio accepted a job opening with the Town Highway Department and yesterday (Thursday) was his first day! I ran to see Juan at Sparta Cemetery on Wednesday (spring cleanup time!) to wish him luck and thank him for all of the work he has been doing to take care of our Parks. (Sidenote-- it's looking great!)

 

Luckily, he is just headed across Town, and I know that the Highway Department is happy to have him-- he brings a lot of skills to the table, and we know he's going to be just as great an asset to the Unincorporated Area as he has been to our Town Parks. Good luck Juan!

 

 

As you can imagine, Juan has left some big shoes to fill. Luckily, we had a ton of incredibly skilled candidates apply for our Laborer job opening back in February, and we were able to revisit some of those applications. Our Parks Foreman and I, with the support of our Board, decided on Mark Gallagher, who also started with us yesterday. Mark brings with him a vast wealth of knowledge about municipal infrastructure and has experience in electrical, masonry and carpentry work. An extra feather in his cap? Mark was born and raised in Ossining and graduated from Ossining High School, so he knows our community and our community knows him! He is off to a great start and we are excited to have Mark grow his career with us in the Town. Congratulations!

 

 

Last night, I was joined by Deputy Supervisor Northern Wilcher Jr., Concilwoman Liz Feldman and Councilwoman Jackie Shaw for the final WMOA, or Westchester Municipal Officials Association, meeting before the summer break. Why so many Board colleagues in attendance? I was asked to serve as Treasurer for the coming year, and I was honored to be able to say yes! Last night, I was sworn in alongside the rest of the E-Board-- I am grateful to become a more active part of this vibrant organization of my peers, and am excited to get started this Fall.

 

Earlier today, Maddi Zachacz, Victoria Cafarelli from my office, and I, along with Village of Ossining staff and members of some of our local non-profits met Acting Commissioner of the Westchester County Planning Department Norma Drummond at 16 Croton for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) refresher course, hosted by Karen D'Attore (who you may know as our Town Councilwoman, but she was wearing her IFCA Executive Director hat!) Karen was accompanied by her Finance Director Lateisha Jones, and we were also joined by Howard Milbert and Shawn Cribari from the Ossining Children's Center and, Joe Czajka from Pattern for Progress.

 

Norma is the guru of all things CDBG, and she agreed to come visit us for an update on the application process. As you may recall, Westchester County was disqualified from getting funds as a result of the HUD lawsuit and ongoing litigation. However, assuming that the Federal Budget passes timely and continues to include an allocation for CDBG, there should be several million dollars available for Westchester municipalities to develop projects in low to moderate income neighborhoods. We are all competing for the same funds, so coming up with innovative ideas is going to be very important. The deadline to submit our ideas is at the end of June, so stay tuned for how you can weigh in on projects proposed for the Town, Village, and some of our non-profit partners very soon.

 

 

Finally, we have some great news to share. Last August, we applied to the Department of State for grant funding under the Municipal Restructuring Fund (MRF) program that would help us to find efficiencies in our operating budget to save taxpayer money, and earlier this year, we were notified that we had been approved for the first phase. Some of the areas where we believe we can realize the most efficiencies are in the Parks and Highway departments, and we were awarded a small sum of money to get started on a study of just how much sense that would make, and here's where you come in.  We are planning to contract with a consultant pdf (check out the draft here) (156 KB) to help us compile and disseminate useful information so that Ossining can make well informed decisions to develop a plan for moving forward. Your direct input is critical to the success of this plan. Where we go from here will ultimately be up to the taxpayers of Ossining-- this is one way you can get involved with making sure that your local government is running as efficiently as possible. If anything comes to mind right away, let us know! Email the Town Board at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We are counting on you.

 

 

Now, onto the weekend! Be sure to check out some of the events scheduled for tonight (hence the early update!) I will be attending the GO-TV Studio Opening at 4PM-- come check out the technology being used to broadcast Town and Village meetings, as well as our community access television shows in their new space (tonight's Open Studio event goes until 7PM). I will then head to Teatown Plantfest First Picks (tonight from 4-7PM, $20 admission includes light bites, wine and craft beer) and pick out some new features for my garden--  a busy night ahead!

 

 

(Can't make it to First Picks? Stop by the Teatown Lake Reservation on Spring Valley Road between 9AM and 2PM tomorrow-- admission is free! Come for the plants, stay for the artisanal foods, jewelry, crafts and more.)

Starting tomorrow (Saturday, May 12th), the Bethany Arts Community will host the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company for three consecutive Saturdays from 1PM to 4PM. This world renowned dance company will be in residency at Bethany Arts Community, and is looking for volunteers to participate in the company's latest work, The Deep Blue Sea.  Participants will be asked to move, think, and create with the dance company.  No formal dance experience is necessary, but participants should be 16 years or older, ideally with backgrounds in movement such as martial arts, dance, gymnastics, sports, or gardening, just to name a few!  These events will be outdoors (weather permitting), so plan accordingly.  You can register here.

 

 

Also tomorrow will be the Westchester Collaborative Theater's Spring fundraiser.  Come check out an evening of cabaret right here in Ossining, with proceeds going to benefit the theater company.

 

 

 

 

 

Ossining business owner, Sharon Rowe, founder and CEO of Eco-Bags Products, Inc. released her first book this past week.  Sharon's success is inspirational -- I can't wait to read her book!  Don't miss her book signing events and discussions scheduled for May 17th at 5PM at First Village Coffee, May 18th at 6PM at Harbor Square, or June 1st at 7PM at Good Choice Kitchen.  All event information can be found on Sharon's website.

 

On Friday, May 18th, YAI Westchester will be hosting a walk-in job fair at the Joseph G. Caputo Community Center between 3:30 and 5:30PM in the Museum area.  Bring a resume along so you can apply onsite for openings that they will have available once they move into their new home in Ossining.

 

 

 

 

 Save the date -- and don't forget to RSVP-- for the Ossining Microfund Microfest.  Join in to support a great local organization which is very close to my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to swing by Down to Earth Market tomorrow morning in Market Square and kick off the start of the season! Between 8:30AM and 1PM, your favorite vendors will be ready to help you plan some delicious treats to cook up for Mom, and summer vendors Mead Orchards, Arlotta Food Studio, Xquisite Coffee Plantation and Bread Alone Bakery will all be back on the roster. See you there, I hope!

 

--Dana

 

 

Town Board Contacts

Town Supervisor: Dana Levenberg - phone (914) 762-6001 - fax (914) 762-0833

Council Members: Karen D'Attore, Elizabeth Feldman, Jackie Shaw, Northern Wilcher Jr.