As you can imagine, we have dedicated a large portion of this past week to addressing the Town's preparedness for the worldwide outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), as instances of the virus have begun to pop up within New York State, and Westchester County specifically. We participated in a conference call with County Executive George Latimer and the Westchester County Department of Health on Tuesday afternoon to receive further information about the initial diagnosis of a man in New Rochelle, followed up with a meeting of Town and Village of Ossining Emergency Management on Wednesday morning to discuss locally-specific plans to ensure continuity of service by both Town and Village departments and emergency responders. Later on Wednesday evening, I attended a forum led by Dan Blum, outgoing president and CEO of Phelps Hospital and big supporter of OVAC and the Mid Hudson Ambulance District, regarding steps they have taken to ensure the hospital can serve people effectively and efficiently, on and off the hospital campus, should cases of this illness significantly multiply in the area. They assured us they are well prepared for this type of emergency, with many back up opportunities available to them, should they need. The County Commissioner of Health, Sherlita Amler, was also in attendance to relay updated information, literally changing by the minute, as well as answer any questions. Information about this outbreak is ever changing, so I encourage you to frequently check the Westchester County Department of Health website for more information. We will also keep you updated with any developments that may affect Town of Ossining residents in the coming days and weeks. A message that was pushed out by both Town and Village government earlier this week with more information, is available here.
The most important thing we can do right now is stay calm, and take common sense steps to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, but also seasonal illnesses like the flu. You might see signs like the one below around Town offices, encouraging everyone to truly do their part by washing hands, covering sneezes and coughs, and most importantly, stay home when you are sick! To that end, Town departments have been re-stocked with cleaning supplies to regularly clean frequently touched surfaces like counters where the public is served, keyboards, and telephones. We have also been assured by the facilities staff at the Village of Ossining that proper cleaning supplies are being used within our shared buildings. Town staff have been encouraged to take a sick day if they don't feel well -- now is not the time to try and power through! We encourage you to do the same, please do not come to conduct Town business if you, your children, or close family members are sick, or may have been exposed to this virus. There are so many services you can access online, including dog license renewals, tax payments, FOIL requests, assessment records, and check your garbage/recycling schedule (if you live in the unincorporated Town you can even download an app that lets you check your schedule daily on your phone, specific to your address!). Most departments are also happy to work with you to find a way to conduct business via e-mail or over the phone, just give them a call. Contact information for each department is available on each individual department's page of the Town website.
The Assessor's office has already taken the liberty of compiling helpful information about upcoming deadlines for exemptions. May 1, 2020 is the deadline for all exemption applications and renewals, and once again, some laws governing exemptions, rebates, etc. have changed, so please make sure you know which ones pertain to you. See below for guidance:
For STAR (exemption or credit): If you recently purchased a home you need to call NYS at 518-457-2036 in order to apply for your STAR credit check for Basic or Enhanced Star, or online at www.tax.ny.gov/star. Residents that turn 65 by December 31st, 2020 are eligible for: Enhanced STAR, with a maximum adjusted gross income of $88,050 (2018 Tax Returns); Senior Exemption, with a maximum income of $37,400 (2019 Tax Returns) all sources of income including Social Security. If you are currently getting the Basic STAR exemption as a reduction in your tax bill, you need to file with the Town of Ossining Assessor’s Office for your Enhanced Star. If you are getting the tax credit check from New York State Department of Tax & Finance you need to call NYS at 518-457-2036. If you are eligible for the Senior Exemption (max income $37,400) you need to file with the Town Assessor’s Office.
Other exemption renewals: If you are getting the Enhanced Star exemption or credit check, the verification and renewal is done by NYS Tax & Finance. If you are getting the Senior Exemption, the renewal is with the Town Assessor’s Office. Renewal forms were mailed in January.
Veterans exemptions: There are no renewals, it is a one-time application at the Town Assessor’s Office. New Veterans applications should be filed prior to May 1 in the Assessor's office.
If you have any questions, give the Assessor's Office a call at (914) 762-8274. Thank you to Town of Ossining Assessor Fernando Gonzalez and his team for putting together this helpful list!
Within the next week or so, check your mailbox for information from the US Census. By April 1, 2020 all homes will have received instructions for responding to the 2020 Census. Did you know that there will be three ways to respond this year? You will be able to respond to the Census online, by phone, or by mail. Start checking your mailbox, and follow the instructions to respond for your household. For more information, visit the Ossining Counts page. Census data directly affect how more than $400 billion per year in federal and state funding is allocated to communities for neighborhood improvements, public health, education, transportation, and much more. That's more than $4 trillion over a 10-year period. Spending just a few minutes to fill out your census form will help ensure Ossining gets its fair share of federal and state funding.
The Town's Food Scraps Recycling Program is really ramping up! Over the past few weeks, we have seen lots of e-mail sign-ups and purchases of residential kits. As a reminder, kits are available for sale on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from 9am to 4pm at Cedar Lane Arts Center. Additionally, kits are available for purchase at Teatown Lake Reservation seven days a week from 9am to 5pm. You can buy your residential kit for $20 ($21 if you are paying by credit/debit card) and a roll of compostable bags for $2 ($2.25 if paying by credit/debit card). If you are purchasing these kits directly from the Town, the only acceptable forms of payment are by check, credit or debit card. The collection site is open from dawn to dusk at Cedar Lane Park (follow the green "Food Scraps" sign!) for you to drop off your food scraps. Whatever is collected is carted to a commercial composting facility in Ulster County. We are hopeful that we can schedule a Compost Giveback day for participants of the program to receive a small amount of finished compost for their gardens sometime this spring. Stay tuned, and in the meantime check out the Ossining Composts page to learn more and sign up for the mailing list to receive more direct information about this program.
Starting in February and ending April 15th, IFCA Housing Network is providing free income tax preparation services at their offices on Spring Street and at Ossining High School. This program is for New York State residents, who work in New York State, have an income of less than $56,000 per year, and who are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. You can start making appointments now by calling (914) 941-5252 for sessions at IFCA's headquarters at 138 Spring Street and appointments are available Monday (12pm-3pm), Tuesday (10am-3pm), Wednesday (1pm-5pm), Thursday (10am-3pm), Friday (1:30pm-3:30pm), and Saturday (12:30pm-3:30pm). There will also be walk-in hours on Mondays from February 3rd through April 6th at Ossining High School (Room 202) from 4pm through 8pm. Please note the walk-in hours at OHS will not be held on February 17th, April 6th, and April 13th. This program is sponsored by Wells Fargo Foundation.
There is also tax preparation help available at the Ossining Public Library. Here are the details:
There are a few opportunities to catch local musicians in Ossining this weekend, starting with the Ossining High School Gimme the Mic students at the Elks Lodge tonight, and on Saturday night catch Anne Carpenter and Peter Calo at Shattemuc Yacht Club for 70s night, or Ingrid Jensen Four at Westchester Collaborative Theater for their Jazz in the Box Series, starting at 7:30pm. Grab your tickets here.
Head a little north to Croton on Saturday, March 7 to celebrate the grand opening of Baked by Susan's new location at 379 South Riverside Drive. Susan and her local team of bakers are good friends to the Ossining community, baking up amazing treats for events like the Summer Concert Series and the Ossining Farmers Market, as well as goods for sale at local businesses. The ribbon cutting is at 12noon, but the new location will be open from 8am to 5pm.
On Saturday, March 7 at 1pm at the Budarz Theater, join the Ossining Public Library Ancestry group for a presentation on the story of two local families who enlisted the help of this library group to discover their family histories. Come to hear these incredible stories and learn about how you can do research on your own family’s history.
The Crossover Yoga Project is hosting their annual fundraiser, this year at Bethany Arts Community on Sunday, March 8 from 2pm to 5pm. Join them to celebrate Crossover Yoga Project's fifth anniversary in their mission of empowering vulnerable teen girls through trauma-informed yoga, mindfulness, and creative art expressions on their fifth anniversary.
Summer Camp registration starts this coming Monday, March 9 on the Village of Ossining Recreation online catalog. The Recreation Program's annual Summer Camp is an Ossining favorite, check out the offerings for each age group. While you are signing up your child for Summer Camp, check out the general Spring Catalog, there are so many great classes scheduled for all ages!
Can't wait for summer? Ossining Recreation is also offering a Spring Break Camp with a lot of fun activities for kids during their few days off from school this coming April.
The Greater Ossining Chamber of Commerce has two events scheduled next week focusing on two of our community's business districts: the Uptown Business Alliance and the Town outside's very own North State Road! The event on North State Road scheduled for Thursday, March 12 at Terra Rustica is an i-Network Business Gathering. Learn from some of Ossining's local experts some networking tools to help grow your business or further a business concept you might have percolating. We also met with Chamber President Gayle Marchica this week to discuss some beautification efforts for North State Road, which is the Town's main business corridor. We are excited to share these plans in the very near future!
Save the date for next Saturday, March 14 for the Green Ossining Repair Café at the Community Center from 11am to 3pm. Bring your broken, but beloved items, have them fixed for free by volunteers, and keep them out of the trash! The Green Ossining team can help with fabric repair, wood repair, electric appliances, tech support for computers and mobile devices, ceramic repair, bikes, costume jewelry, toys, and more. There is also a kid’s table where kids can learn circuitry and how stuff work – maybe one day they can be Repair Café volunteers themselves! For more information, visit www.greenossining.org.
Take some time this weekend to perfect your award winning chili recipe for the chili cook off fundraiser for the Ossining Pride 11U JCYS baseball team at Sing Sing Kill Brewery also scheduled for next Saturday, March 14!
Finally, mark your calendars for the 10th Annual Earth Day Festival coming up on Saturday, April 25 from 10am to 5pm. Green Ossining Chair Suzie Ross and her team have an excellent day planned, filled with musical performances, local food and craft beer, artisan vendors and more. You will not want to miss it!