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, 9:00 am - 2:30 pm due to COVID restrictions.
- Last Updated: 08 May 2020 08 May 2020
I would like to start this week by wishing you all a Happy Mother’s Day. There is never an easy time to be a mom – even without a global pandemic. Thank you to all the moms – and that includes biological moms, adoptive moms, step-moms, grandmothers, furry moms, aunts, big sisters, role models, and all other mom-figures -- making this work.
I would also like to extend my thanks to teachers and nurses this week. Teacher Appreciation Week and Nurses Appreciation Week is especially noteworthy this year, with our dedicated teachers and nurses going the extra mile during this crisis.
This week, Governor Cuomo announced his re-opening strategy. No area of New York is currently prepared to open, but the plan will allow businesses to prepare before the start date. We are expecting the finalized version of the re-opening strategy will be released soon. The preliminary blueprint laid out by the Governor divided the State into distinct regions, aligned with the regions some of us are familiar with from the Regional Economic Development Councils. Each region will be judged independently of the others, and based upon specific, data-guided measures. Since New York City was a hotspot, and is its own REDC region, it will be judged as its own region. Ossining is included in a region, Mid-Hudson, with Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, Ulster, Sullivan, and Westchester. Reopening comes with its own challenges, especially since schools remain closed. The plan is structured into four phases, with different businesses in each phase. Between the phases are a strict set of criteria the region must meet. Before entering Phase 1 our region must demonstrate a steady, consistent decline in new cases. Among other guidelines, we must also build a security net into our hospitals by giving them time to restock supplies, as well as increased testing capacity and contact tracing. The phases are anticipating a potential second wave. In the absence of a second wave, hotspots are expected as people begin to interact again. The Governor has stressed the need for continued social distancing and mask-wearing to avoid losing the progress we have made.
The State has also announced opportunities for contact tracers to be hired. This is an essential aspect of any region in New York State being able to be reopened – we must have a better handle on evaluating positive cases and those with whom they may have come in contact. You can learn more about this opportunity and apply online.
As cases increase nationwide, new evidence shows that New Yorkers have successfully flattened our curve and are on the down slope. However, we must bear in mind that 231 New Yorkers died from this virus just on Thursday this week alone. That is 231 families, neighborhoods, communities, workplaces, and more with a tremendous loss to face. Now is not the time to become less vigilant. As the weather warms I am happy to get to see your faces again in our public spaces. Please be respectful of your neighbors, and those that we have lost during this pandemic, by wearing a mask if you are moving through spaces where social distancing is not possible (which, in my opinion, is pretty much anywhere you go! At the very least, have the mask around your next so you can put it on if you have to get within six feet of another).
There is virtually no reason to not wear a mask. If you do not have one at home, they are super easy to make! All you need is an old t-shirt and a paper towel, and you are good to go. Not so crafty? Grab a bandana or scarf you have lying around and use that instead. For those of us not in the medical industry, and who are just looking for some protection while going out for a walk or run, that should be sufficient.
Governor Cuomo has also announced a fun challenge – make a video about why it is so important to wear a mask, tag #NewYorkTough on your social media channels, and New Yorkers will be able to vote for their favorite! The winning video will be used as a Public Service Announcement. Come on Ossining – can we do this? Submissions are due May 15 – get on our creative juices to help promote healthy practices in New York State! Learn more here.
Local Coronavirus cases across the County appeared to increase this week after a backlog of unsorted results were appropriately distributed. A large number of cases state-wide were not properly filed upon initial intake or required additional information to be confirmed. These newly sorted cases reflect additional results spanning back to the March tests. As the backlog continues to be sorted, our numbers will become more accurate and more aligned with the State Health Department’s information. The filing error resulted at the State level from tests processed without attaching an address to a resident’s name. New York State made a significant dent in the backlog this week – we are expecting case numbers all across the county to rise to reflect this newly allocated information. We are, however, also backing out cases that were active for more than 14 days to try to show a more accurate picture of how many cases are presumably still active, of the total positives. The County is now supplying those numbers to us, which is helpful as a guiding document.
This week County Executive George Latimer unveiled a Ribbons of Remembrance memorial at Leonoir Preserve in Yonkers. I know the restrictions on funerals have been a burden on grieving families. Ribbons of Remembrance allows families to write the name of a lost loved one on a purple ribbon and then add it to the memorial site, hopefully offering some solace. If extended family will be joining you at the memorial, please continue to wear masks and social distance to protect others.
The Deadline for Paying your 2020 Town and County taxes due April 30th has passed. However, if paying by April 30th posed a financial hardship, please take advantage of the reduced penalty options:
- Pay between now and May 31st - .5% penalty (previous penalty 2%)
- Pay between June 1 and July 15th – 1% penalty (previous penalty 5%)
PAY ONLINE at https://www.townofossining.com/cms/receiver-of-taxes/tax-bill-online-payment or through the mail or at Ossining Post Office mail slot.
Additionally, you may be eligible to defer payment until July 15th 2020 without any penalty if you are suffering through a financial hardship directly caused by COVID-19 crisis. Please see the qualifications here. The forms necessary to be submitted WITH your payment by mail can be retrieved here. Please note that the form is due with your payment and did not have to be submitted by April 30th.
Calls to our Assessor’s Office continued this week following the mailing of the Preliminary Change of Assessment Notices for property owners. The re-appraisal process of properties maintains the accuracy of our tax roll and is coordinated by our Assessor’s Office and Tyler Technologies.
I would like to reiterate, an increase in assessed value does not necessarily mean a proportionate increase, or even an increase at all, in taxes. Taxes are determined by many factors, including the budgets of the various taxing jurisdictions. Property owners know their properties better than anyone, so participating in an informal review if you feel we might have been off in the valuation will help ensure the accuracy of our roll. If you feel your preliminary assessment does not accurately reflect the value of your property as of July 1, 2019, we encourage you to schedule a remote informal meeting with Tyler Technologies by calling 800-829-4235 Monday through Friday 9:00AM to 4:00PM or by logging on to www.tylertech.com/schedule to schedule an appointment. Prepare by looking online to compare your property to sale prices (within the past year) for similar properties.
As we have mentioned before, the first step should be an informal review with Tyler Technologies before the Tentative Roll is filed, normally June 1. Tyler Technologies may determine it is appropriate to lower the assessed value you received in your notice. However, if you are still not satisfied with the accuracy of your assessed value, you may file a grievance prior to Grievance Day, normally the third Tuesday in June, or June 16 this year. These deadlines are set by New York State law, and normally not able to be changed at the local level. However, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.22 on April 20, allowing individual municipalities to extend deadlines associated with the Assessment roll by 30 days. Following our discussion last week, the Town Board intends on extending the Tentative Roll filing date from June 1 to June 30, 2020, and holding Grievance Day on July 21, 2020, instead of June 16. We hope this extension will allow property owners ample time to review, investigate, and challenge their preliminary assessed value, if necessary. This extension will be formally adopted by the Town Board at our next Legislative Session, scheduled for May 12, 2020. You can call the Assessor's Office at (914) 762-8274 if you need any help or have questions.
Also, I would like to remind everyone to be vigilant of scams during this difficult time. Unfortunately, tough times can also bring out the worst in people, as much as it brings out the best, too. We received a report this week from a resident of a potential scammer masking their caller ID to read “Town of Ossining” – so scary! As a reminder, do not give out personal information over the phone and verify any call that does not seem legitimate, even if it may seem like the call is coming from someone you know or a trusted source. Unfortunately, people are able to spoof phone numbers with easily accessible apps these days. Also be wary of phishing attempts via e-mail. Do not open links or attachments from e-mail addresses you do not recognize, or seem a little bit off. Use your best judgment, and if you suspect you may have fallen victim to a scam, you can always contact the Ossining Police Department at (914) 941-4099. If you receive a phone call from someone who may be pretending to be a Town of Ossining staff member, you can always call the Supervisor’s Office directly at (914) 762-6001 to verify the caller.
Census outreach also continued this week. If you have received your Census mailing, please complete the survey and return it right away. We currently have not quite reached a 60% response rate and are way behind many of our neighbors who have surpassed 70%. C’mon Ossiningites! Get your Census on!!! Remember: more than 400 billion dollars in federal and state funding can be traced back to Census results and in the last Census Ossining lost nearly $2500 for each uncounted resident. Now more than ever we see the importance of programs and services we rely on every day. If you haven’t completed your Census by mail, you can fill it out online or by phone (844-330-2020 for English, 844-468-2020 for Spanish, 844-474-2020 for Portuguese). The Census is available in approximately 60 different languages, with the survey also available in Braille and large print. All Census responses are confidential. They should be completed by each household and account for every resident, regardless of citizenship or age. Preschoolers remain consistently under counted nationwide, so don’t forget the little ones. If your college student would have been away at school this semester, they will have already been counted by their college (so there’s no need to include them in your count). my2020census.com gets you started!
Many of us are used to kicking off the month of May with I Love My Parks Day, helping with park clean-ups throughout the State, or locally along the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail and Louis Engel Park. It is so hard to believe we are unable to gather this year for this fun, educational, and helpful initiative! But I guess it might even be better this year, since the New York State Parks has deemed all of May I Love My Parks Month! Join in the virtual photo challenge and tag #ShowParksLove. There are weekly themes and prizes from retailers like LL Bean and Patagonia. As we have all begun to see, our parks definitely need some extra love this year. Next week’s theme is “Give Back,” through volunteering, donating, and speaking out. Get more details online, and get your submission ready for next week! And please, if you see an overflowing garbage can, or even one about to, carry out your refuse and bring it home, and safely deposit it to reduce to possibility of contagion spread, and to help keep our parks looking beautiful.
We are expecting some chilly weather this weekend -- and maybe some severe winds and possibly even snow tonight into tomorrow -- but next week is supposed to have a few nice days. Our Mind Body Spirit - Ossining (MBSO) program was designed to invite local residents into our beautiful parks. Local wellness businesses host free events in the parks for group participation. We have had to adapt a bit this year, but you can still enjoy the beauty of the parks and participate in solitary wellness activities like hiking, yoga, mediation, and more. Check our this mindfulness instruction class from the Crossover Yoga Project filmed in Crawbuckie park!
Restaurants continue to open this week – and we are so glad to have them back! We update the color of this list weekly to help the current version stand out. Help us circulate this list by posting on your Facebook page.
While you are sharing posts to help support local businesses, let’s boost this one too! While restaurants were deemed essential services, other businesses have also had to adapt for their homebound customers. Your input is imperative to keeping this list updated. Quarantine can be stressful, these businesses are prepared to help by offering their amazing services. You will notice we don’t change the background color on this graphic – that’s because each business has a distinct type of adaptive service available and we want you to see that first!
I am thrilled to see the community coming together to support each other. Sewing groups have sprung up all around the country – and quite a few locally – to teach residents how to make their own masks and masks for others in need. Nancy Adelman and her team are organizing mask sewing for EMTs, nursing homes, and those in vulnerable populations (like homeless residents). Check out their GoFundMe page to see how to get involved or donate.
An increased interest in sending food to first responders also warms my heart! As a reminder, always contact an organization before making food donations (having pizzas anonymously delivered to a hospital is a lovely gesture but can be overwhelming for staff and does not account for schedules already in place). Hop on board this Meal Train designed to provide meals to hospital workers and OVAC.
As financial hardships grow due to the Coronavirus crisis, food insecurity rises with it. There are a lot of options available for hot meals in Ossining and Briarcliff – many meals cooked by our favorite restaurants and donated! The Village and Feeding Westchester host a food distribution program every Tuesday across several locations.
Gullotta House serves hot meals in Ossining from local restaurants on Fridays from 4-6pm at Stop & Shop. Donations keep the engine in motion so please support if you can, by visiting www.gullottahouse.org. The dates and locations for food distribution change weekly, so we recommend residents follow them on Facebook to get specific information. We are also sharing the info on our Town of Ossining Facebook page.
The Ossining Farmer’s Market has shifted to allow for pre-orders! Add to your cart throughout the week and pick-up on Saturday.
May is Membership Month for one local fitness center. Like many others, they have converted to an online regiment during the NY PAUSE orders.
Finally, in our virtual world, there are fun events to remote into! Locally, celebrate Mother’s Day with a livestreamed Cabaret presented by the Bethany Arts Center.
The fan-favorite Mike Risko Band is offering Singing Telegrams for local Moms! Performances on the front lawn keep everyone safe – and having a good time.
There are many fun and creative ways to celebrate Mother’s Day in quarantine. Here are some fun ideas, but make yours personal!
- Last Updated: 01 May 2020 01 May 2020
A new day, a new month. Welcome May flowers, there have been lots of showers to coax you out.
I want to thank so many of you who were able to make your Town/County tax payments on time. We know how hard it has been for all of us, and no matter what your situation, these are difficult payments to make. We know many of you will take advantage of either the hardship waiver the Town opted into or the greatly reduced late fees passed by Westchester County. But, 91.6% of our overall warrant was collected by the due date, down only about 3% from last year at this time. As you know, these funds go to pay for so many of the critical services provided by municipal government to protect public health and safety. We truly are all in this together!
Additionally, the first of the month may bring anxiety about rent payments. As a reminder, renters cannot be evicted from their residence due to inability to pay rent. For homeowners, nervous about mortgage payments, lenders cannot evict you and must provide an “opportunity for a forbearance of payments” for anyone facing financial hardships. Both of these protections have been put in place by Governor Cuomo’s Executive Orders. As always, you can reach out to my office or visit www.townofossining.com if you have any questions about programs and services available to you, as many of the links you would need to find them are also available through our dedicate COVID webpage.
I know we fielded many, many phone calls last week and this week about the Preliminary Change of Assessment Notices which went out to property owners via mail last week. We were joined by our Assessor Fernando Gonzalez during this past week’s Legislative Session to explain this process in further detail and why we sent these letters out when we did. To view Fernando’s presentation, visit our YouTube page. We hope this video is helpful and informative. As you might recall, the process of re-appraising all properties in order to maintain the accuracy of our tax roll, started several months ago. We hired Tyler Technologies to coordinate with our Assessor’s office closely and facilitate this complicated process. If you feel your preliminary assessment does not accurately reflect the value of your property as of July 1, 2019, we encourage you to schedule a remote informal meeting with Tyler Technologies by calling 800-829-4235 Monday through Friday 9:00AM to 4:00PM or by logging on to www.tylertech.com/schedule to schedule an appointment. We recommend prepping before – take a look online at sale prices for similar properties within the last year and compare to your own.
We understand that for many facing unprecedented hardships due to the Coronavirus pandemic, receiving this notice was unsettling. Bear in mind that an increase in assessed value does not necessarily mean a proportionate increase, or even an increase at all, in taxes. Taxes are determined by many factors, including the budgets of the various taxing jurisdictions. Additionally, these notices and the reviews with Tyler Technologies are vital to the integrity of the re-appraisal process. Property owners know their properties better than anyone, so participating in an informal review if you feel we might have gotten it wrong will help ensure the accuracy of our roll.
As I mentioned, the first step should be an informal review with Tyler Technologies before the Tentative Roll is filed, normally June 1. Tyler Technologies may determine it is appropriate to lower the assessed value you received in your notice. However, if you are still not satisfied with the accuracy of your assessed value, you may file a grievance prior to Grievance Day, normally the third Tuesday in June, or June 16 this year. These deadlines are set by New York State law, and normally not able to be changed at the local level. However, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.22 on April 20, allowing individual municipalities to extend deadlines associated with the Assessment roll by 30 days. Following our discussion last week, the Town Board intends on extending the Tentative Roll filing date from June 1 to June 30, 2020, and holding Grievance Day on July 21, 2020, instead of June 16. We hope this extension will allow property owners ample time to review, investigate, and challenge their preliminary assessed value, if necessary. This extension will be formally adopted by the Town Board at our next Legislative Session, scheduled for May 12, 2020. You can call the Assessor's Office at (914) 762-8274 if you need any help or have questions.
As I mentioned earlier, this week also marked the deadline for Town and County Taxes. I referred to two options for those who were unable to pay on time this year. The County Legislature approved a Tax Penalty Reduction option to reduce the financial strain caused by the pandemic. Penalties for late payment have been reduced for all taxpayers. Penalties are reduced to .5% until May 30, with penalties rising to 1% from the first of June to July 15. So, on an average Town/County tax bill of $4000 if you pay by May 30 you would owe an additional $20, or by July 15 an additional $40. You do not need to apply for this reduction in penalties, it is automatically available to all taxpayers.
For those who require further flexibility, landlords, businesses, and individuals can apply for the elimination of all penalties until July 15 under "Hardship Requirements" established by the County. This action was approved by the Town in a Legislative Session this week and we’ve created a chart (below) to help taxpayers find which reductions are available to them. You can click on the chart below for a high resolution copy.
Hardship certifications can be found on the Town’s website here. We ask that if you are requesting the hardship exemption, you submit the certification form with your payment. Payments with hardship certifications can only be made via check in the mail, or by check at the mail slot at the Ossining Post Office (envelopes sent via the mail slot must be stamped and put through the slot before 5pm to be postmarked by that day). All other payments can still be made via those methods, or online: https://www.townofossining.com/cms/receiver-of-taxes/tax-bill-online-payment.
Relief continues to pour in from generous neighbors lending a hand. For isolated seniors, and their separated families, I know there are a lot of unanswered questions. This Resource Guide with senior services and entertainment options may help connect you with the information you need.
Our beloved farmers market continues to adapt to the outbreak. Vendors are sharing their order/delivery options for everyone’s convenience in the Order From the Farmer’s Market Facebook group and their @downtoearthmkts instagram. Keep the locally sourced food coming and freshness on the table. The Farmer’s Market is also sharing their Recipe Box for everyone who needs a great new meal to lighten the evening (who doesn’t these days).
We are especially appreciative of artists during the outbreak – they have brought us great comfort. Subscribers of ArtNews from Westchester County may recognize the photographer on this month’s issue. Congratulations to Ossining resident Alan Haywood! ArtNews is sharing information about art events (virtual for now) and the artists who are helping keep us sane while we’re stuck inside.
Census outreach also continued this week. If you have received your Census mailing, please complete the survey and return it right away. We currently have only about a 50% response rate – lots of room for improvement. More than 400 billion dollars in federal and state funding can be traced back to Census results and in the last Census Ossining lost nearly $2500 for each uncounted resident. Now more than ever we see the importance of programs and services we rely on every day. If you haven’t completed your Census by mail, you can fill it out online or by phone (844-330-2020 for English, 844-468-2020 for Spanish, 844-474-2020 for Portuguese). The Census is available in approximately 60 different languages, with the survey also available in Braille and large print. All Census responses are confidential. They should be completed by each household and account for every resident, regardless of citizenship or age. Preschoolers remain consistently under counted nationwide, so don’t forget the little ones. If your college student would have been away at school this semester, they will have already been counted by their college (so there’s no need to include them in your count).
Since testing began, we have seen numbers climb in Ossining. However, we know we are seeing a leveling off of new positives in the last two weeks. As the warm weather starts to shape up, I want to remind you not to let “Quarantine Fatigue” set in. We must continue to remain vigilant so we do not see an uptick. Handwashing is still critical to keeping spread of the virus at bay, as are face masks for trips out of the house. If you go out, remember to social distance at all times. We do not want to have done all this work just to go backward in two weeks.
We are continuing our Zoom Town Board meetings next week with a Work Session on Tuesday, May 5. We have some exciting topics on the agenda, including a proposal by Ecogy Energy for a carport style solar system installation at Maryknoll, 75 Ryder Road. Town Planner Valerie Monastra and Town Building Inspector John Hamilton will also be “on the line” so we look forward to receiving their input as well, as the Town Board will be considering forwarding this proposal to the Planning Board for thorough review. John will be staying on for a departmental report, then we will have a preliminary discussion on what the future may hold for Ossining as we look towards phased re-opening of some industries. Following the lead of Governor Cuomo’s New York Forward guidelines, we look forward to starting the conversation as we look ahead to our new normal.
Our Planning Board will also be starting up Zoom meetings next week, with a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, May 6 (you can view their agenda here). We know this is a new forum for many, so I encourage you to participate in some Zoom trainings, available online. Not only will you be able to engage with your Town government using this new platform, maybe you can put it to use for a virtual Mothers’ Day brunch next weekend with your family, or virtual book club with your friends! The possibilities are endless and so vital to maintaining connections during this unusual time.
Alphabetized by popular demand, here is this week’s restaurant list. For those of you following along at home, this is our fifth edition – coming to you in a celebratory May-purple! Each week we update the list based on who is jumping back in. Please help circulate this list and any information provided by local businesses. These are strange times, I am so inspired to see everyone pitching in to support our neighbors any way they can.
Here is a newly updated version of the other fantastic businesses that are offering services to customers during these strange times. Want to learn to play an instrument, organize your workspace, meet a fitness goal, or try something new? These businesses are really saving the day so be sure to take advantage of their services and help save them as well!
Contribute to keeping Coronavirus at bay by connecting with these great programs. Nancy Adelman and her team organizing mask sewing for EMTs, nursing homes, and those in vulnerable populations (like homeless residents). Check out their GoFundMe page to see how to get involved or donate. If cooking (or baking!) is your thing, check out this Meal Train designed to provide meals to hospital workers and OVAC.
If you are worried about food security, know that there are options out there for you. Every Tuesday, the Village and Feeding Westchester host a food distribution program across several locations. Gullotta House has gone above and beyond, providing hot meals in Ossining from local restaurants on Fridays from 4-6pm at Stop & Shop. Need is increasing, so donations are appreciated. To help support them, please visit www.gullottahouse.org. The dates and locations for food distribution change weekly, so we recommend residents follow them on Facebook to get specific information. We are also sharing the info on our Town of Ossining Facebook page.
For some lighter news, Sing Sing Kill Brewery is continuing its weekly Virtual Happy Hour tonight at 6! Connect with others and catch up – there’s so much going on, take some time to check in with everyone.
Let some music into your day. Alexis Cole has launched “Virtually, Yours” a livestream via Zoom with requests in real time, original pieces, and other fun content. For everyone missing the arts, this is a great way to immerse yourself. Tickets are ten dollars, available at www.alexiscole.com/shows
For every family that was planning a trip away, we have an interesting option to share – Universal theme park, Disney, Coney Island, and others have created Virtual Roller Coaster rides! These first person views of a rider let the creative imagination into these otherwise closed parks. Hold on tight!
For those of you looking ahead, May is Membership Month for one local fitness center. Like many others, they’ve converted to an online regiment during the NY PAUSE orders.
In the fall we are used to celebrating Giving Tuesday to support local charities. As the Coronavirus challenges our dedicated non-profits and community groups, the effort is being launched with a spring edition this year #GivingTuesdayNow. Seek out your favorite charities on Tuesday, May 5th to contribute to their needs. Special thanks to IFCA for reminding us of this important event. IFCA provides much-needed services, housing for over 200 people, and assistance to neighbors in need. There are many local and not so local non-profits participating, including Open Door Family Medical Centers, so I encourage you if you are in a position to do so, to consider supporting one of your favorite causes this coming week. So many organizations are finding themselves without their normal sources of income, and would be so appreciative of the donation.
We have asked a lot of our kids this year. Seniors have adjusted their prom and graduation plans to say the least. In honor of our graduating seniors, and our first responders, the lights at the Ossining Football field will light up at 8:20 tonight (20:20 military time). The lights will stay on for twenty minutes.
New York City residents have been joined by millions around the country clapping at 7pm in honor of healthcare workers on the front lines. The cheers from balconies and windows is a moving tribute at the time hospital day shifts end and the night shift begins. This week, Maryknoll church bells joined the chorus. If you cannot hear them at 7, you can listen via livestream.
Stay safe Ossining -- and enjoy the weekend!
- Last Updated: 25 April 2020 25 April 2020
Relief is on the way! The Town is continuing to offer programs, services, and support to residents during the Coronavirus crisis. This week we coordinated with the County to ensure a reduction in penalties or waiver of all penalties for taxpayers with specific or no specific hardships, hopefully providing some extra flexibility in cashflow for you. We have provided more detail (and an easy visual) later in the Update. Also included, mask making programs to help essential services workers, meal train options for those on the front lines, exemption application info, absentee ballot information, and more!
Before jumping in to the Coronavirus numbers for this week, I would like to remind everyone of the importance of the Census. The resources we use to combat the current crisis are tied directly to the results of the last Census. Each decade this national survey helps distribute more than $400 billion per year in federal and state funding, all allocated to communities for neighborhood improvements, public health, education, transportation, and much more. In 2010, Ossining lost nearly $2500 for each uncounted resident – per year. Now more than ever, an accurate count is a necessity. The fourth and final mail reminder was received by many residents this week. You can also complete the census online or by phone (844-330-2020 for English, 844-468-2020 for Spanish, 844-474-2020 for Portuguese) even if you have not received your mailing. If you know someone who needs to view the Census information in another language I recommend visiting the Census Website’s Language Support page. The Census is available in approximately 60 different languages, with the survey also available in Braille and large print. The Census should be completed by each household and account for every resident, regardless of citizenship or age. College students and preschoolers are consistently under counted nationwide, and all Census responses are confidential. If your college student should have been at school this semester, they will have already been counted by their school so you should not included them in your count.
Coronavirus remains in the forefront of our minds. The number of cases in Ossining grew to 101 in the Town of Ossining, 706 in the Village of Ossining, and 65 in the Village of Briarcliff Manor, as of yesterday, which are the latest numbers we have received thus far. Please bear in mind these numbers are cumulative and reflect both active and inactive cases. It is likely the number of active cases are approximately 50% less than these numbers. Thankfully, it appears the State has finally turned a corner and flattened the curve, meaning that valuable healthcare services will not become overwhelmed. Of course, we are not out of the woods yet. Healthcare workers are still working around the clock and our efforts to social distance and stay home are what is keeping the system afloat. Governor Cuomo is coordinating with neighboring states in crafting a plan for the downward slope of the curve and the eventual reopening. A few states with lower case numbers have lifted some restrictions, we are closely monitoring how their numbers react. Please join me in continuing to adhere to the guidelines in place until an official all-clear is issued from the Governor. It takes the participation of the entire community to keep us healthy.
The County Legislature approved a Tax Penalty Reduction option this week. The Town Board and I wrote a formal letter of support along with several other Supervisors asking the Legislature to adopt the option for taxpayers. The money received from these taxes is used by the County to pay for the much-needed essential services and ongoing emergency response. However, to offer relief to anyone, the following structure is now in place (see chart below). Penalties for late payment have been reduced for all taxpayers. Penalties are reduced to .5% until May 30, with penalties rising to 1% from the first of June to July 15. So, on an average Town/County tax bill of $4000 if you pay by May 30 you would owe an additional $20, or by July 15 an additional $40. You do not need to apply for this reduction in penalties, it is automatically available to all taxpayers.
Additionally, earlier this week, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.22 suspending some of the laws regarding penalties for Real Property Taxes in Westchester County, empowering the County Executive to establish hardship criteria for some taxpayers to receive a complete waiver of penalties through July 15, including residents, landlords, and small businesses. For those who require further flexibility, the taxpayer can apply for the elimination of all penalties until July 15 under specific "Hardship Requirements." The hardship requirements are different for individuals, businesses, and individuals with rental properties. Please review the requirements to see if you are eligible. I am happy to report that the Town of Ossining has indicated to the County Executive's office that we will participate in this opportunity for our taxpayers, and our participation will be formalized via a resolution at next Tuesday's Legislative Session.
We have begun to see many questions from taxpayers asking how these new relief programs will be implemented. Those requesting hardship will be required to complete a certification form to be submitted with payment, received and/or postmarked by July 15. You do not need to request the hardship exemption prior to April 30. Certification forms will be available to taxpayers that meet the criteria for hardship in the near future.
I know these past few weeks have been particularly difficult for seniors and their families. If you’re nervous about isolation, or travel, or any number of things during this pandemic, we’ve come across a wonderful Resource Guide full of senior services and entertainment options. With information coming at us from all different angles, it’s important to have a central place with reliable and straightforward information.
Last night, I attended a Zoom meeting of the Mid-Hudson Ambulance District. We hold these meetings quarterly, primarily to review various statistics generated by the Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corps and discuss ways to better serve the communities within and served by the District -- Ossining (Town and Village), New Castle, Croton, and Sleepy Hollow. I was encouraged to hear from Captain Nick Franzoso how the Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corps has been extraordinarily well-equipped to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic. They have been working tirelessly to respond to medical emergencies, with most attributed to confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 these days, as well as to support many other community organizations at the same time. We are so lucky to have dedicated first responders, under the great leadership of Captain Franzoso. Thank you OVAC!
This past week marked a number of important holidays, some of which we usually get to celebrate as a community. Tuesday, April 22 was Earth Day 50 years since the first one!) and today, Friday, April 24 is Arbor Day. Of course, that does not mean we cannot continue to celebrate with our families at home! The tenets of environmentalism, individual and collective action to make this world a better place to live, ring true today, and perhaps even more so, as we grapple with the impacts of a pandemic. Get outside (maybe bring your rain boots and umbrella along today!) to celebrate the great outdoors and even educate your children about the importance of Earth Day and Arbor Day. Here are some great ideas for celebrating Arbor Day at home, and some for Earth Day as well. Before you know it, we will be back together for belated celebrations -- we have planned a tree planting in the fall, stay tuned. Sing Sing Kill Brewery also has a special Earth Day beer release and virtual tasting party scheduled for tonight, what a fun way for those 21+ in your household celebrate Earth Day!
Holocaust Remembrance Day was also this past week. This was a day to pause and remember the senseless killing of groups of people who somehow represented a threat to those in power, and their followers. I know I lost relatives, and others, including my mother and grandparents, had to go into hiding to remain safe. As we think about what is going on in our world today and how people are coming together at a distance to help their neighbors or others imperiled by this disease, even as we fear those who are sick, we can recognize the hope we have that humanity can rise above demagoguery and hate. We must always remember.
We also celebrate the beginning of the month of Ramadan this week, a peaceful and reflective time with family. I know this is an incredibly difficult time to be unable to share with our extended family, friends, and faith communities. I hope Ramadan in the environment of Coronavirus remains a spiritual time of reflection and retreat for Muslims in our community and throughout the world, and serves as a reminder to all of us that our time of isolation can also be a time of seeking inner peace, gratitude, and comradery.
Though money may be tight for some, anyone who can support our local businesses should check out some of the amazing options throughout town! This week we've updated our restaurant list for the fourth time - including some that were closed that reopened for take out and delivery. Thanks for your input.
But wait, there's more! Restaurants are not the only places that have adapted to these unprecedented times. Thank you to everyone who emailed and commented to help us expand our list of businesses offering no-contact deliveries, phone consultations, and remote learning.
Mask maker, Mask maker, Make me a mask. We're proud to share two growing initiatives by our residents to help keep our neighbors healthy. For anyone skilled with a needle and thread, a team is creating masks for EMTS, nursing homes, and those in vulnerable populations (like homeless residents). Check out their GoFundMe page to see how to get involved or donate. The second initiative is a wonderful Meal Train designed to provide meals to hospital workers and OVAC. Check out their food-fastic plan to see how to contribute.
I know money has been tight for a lot of residents. Please know, we do not intend to let any resident go hungry. Every Tuesday, the Village and Feeding Westchester host a food distribution program across several locations. Also, the not for profit Gullotta House has been amazing in helping to coordinate volunteers for these efforts and additionally, has provided hot meals to the Ossining Community and beyond, here in Ossining on Fridays from 4-6pm at Stop & Shop. So far they've distributed over 12,000 meals. To help support them, please visit www.gullottahouse.org. The dates and locations change weekly, so we recommend residents follow them on Facebook to get specific information. We're also sharing the info on our Town of Ossining Facebook page.
As we keep our eyes on the future, I know a lot of you have questions about the primary election. Governor Cuomo moved the primary date to June 23rd and expanded the voting by mail criteria. Registered voters affected by the Coronavirus crisis can now request an absentee ballot based on the "temporary illness or physical disability." Additionally, the Governor has just announced today that absentee ballot application will be mailed to every registered voter in New York for the primaries (with postage for envelope to mail back to Boards of Elections). Please note, this option has been extended for the June primary election only, not the November general election. To request an absentee ballot today, if you do not want to wait please fill out the application here.You can email your application in too.
Stay safe Ossining -- and enjoy the weekend!
- Last Updated: 17 April 2020 17 April 2020
Stopping the spread of Coronavirus remains our top priority in the Town, but I would like to start today's update with an important reminder about the Census. Our Census response rate for the Town of Ossining remains significantly under our total response rate for the 2010 Census. Three reminders to participate have already been sent in the mail, and you should be receiving your fourth and final reminder in the mail shortly. There are three ways to respond -- online, via phone, or by paper form by request. You can still respond today online, but now the paper response forms should also show up in your mailbox to complete. Westchester County Department of Planning reported to us that this week, we started to see numbers of paper responses increase throughout the County, indicating that those forms have indeed reached people's mailboxes. An accurate count in the Census is extremely important, so we have continued to partner with the Village of Ossining and the Ossining Counts committee to get that message out. The flyer below will be distributed with next week's Feeding Westchester food distribution, mailed with all receipts for tax payments starting today, sent home with children picking up breakfasts and lunches at Park School, and incorporated into any other appropriate messaging from the Town and Village. It is also important to educate your children about the Census because in 2030, they will be ten years older and may be responding for themselves for the first time as independent, young adults. Westchester County Planning Commissioner Norma Drummond shared with us how many people who were school aged children in 2010 are now young adults but are nevertheless unaware of the importance of the Census, or even what it is! The Census Bureau has a YouTube page with helpful videos for adults, but also with educational videos for students. I think this is a great resource for all the parents out there who have suddenly become remote learning teachers. Now you can incorporate educational videos from the Census into your math and statistics lessons for all ages!
This week has brought some encouraging, yet still sobering news. As of yesterday (we have not yet received updated numbers today), the number of confirmed cases are 79 in the Town of Ossining, 54 in the Village of Briarcliff Manor, and 547 in the Village of Ossining. However, as County Executive George Latimer reminds us, this number is cumulative. It is likely that a good portion of those individuals included in this count are no longer active cases, hopefully having recovered. Unfortunately, also as the County has noted, it is clear that this pandemic has hit hardest our minority communities, which is so devastating. I have been in touch with Neighbors Link and Open Door about how we may partner to continue to improve those statistics and hope to have information about that in the not too distant future. These organizations are working around the clock to get personalized information and education, as well as resources to our local communities. It remains important to be vigilant in our efforts to stay home as much as possible, only going out for absolutely essential trips, and to isolate or quarantine when any symptoms present themselves in ourselves or our families, plus seek medical assistance if needed. We owe it to our entire community to make these sacrifices to ultimately save lives. These families that have been impacted by this virus, especially those that have lost loved ones, remain in my thoughts every day.
Governor Cuomo continues to issue regular Executive Orders, including those issued within the past week or so that apply to the functions of the Town -- extending New York PAUSE through May 15 and closing boat launches, including the Town-operated launch at Louis Engel Park. Yesterday, Governor Cuomo also announced that all New Yorkers are now required to wear face masks or coverings when outside and when social distancing measures are not possible. See below for a refresher on social distancing when getting outside for solitary exercise. Again, masks are not an alternative to staying home! This follows an Executive Order from earlier this week that all essential employees must be provided masks free of charge by their employers when interacting with the public. The Town does still have essential employees working in the field, with limited contact with the public. Through our channels, we have been able to secure masks to make sure we keep everyone safe, and we thank all those who were able to help us with that.
This upcoming week we will be resuming our normal meeting schedule for all Town Boards and Committees via Zoom. Our Environmental Advisory Committee held their first virtual meeting last night, we have planned a meeting of the Mid-Hudson Ambulance District board coming up next Thursday, and all of our remaining Land Use Boards are gearing up their agendas for May. We hope that this new platform will help us regain some sense of normalcy, and continue to allow us to engage our public for these meetings. We recognize that Zoom may be a new concept for most, so I would encourage you to check out these video tutorials from Zoom to help familiarize yourself with this new platform. On a personal note, I have used Zoom to gather with my own family remotely, as well as my gym buddies who I now work out with a couple times a week, and my girlfriends who connect to relax and rewind Friday evenings, so I hope that by learning Zoom to engage with your Town Board, you will also look to use video conferencing to connect with your family and friends near and far while we are all in isolation. Many of our local businesses have also started using Zoom or other similar platforms to continue to provide their services virtually now (check them out below), so you should also consider using your new skills to support our local businesses!
At last Tuesday's Board Meeting, we discussed legislation that is currently before the Westchester County Board of Legislators and aims to provide relief to taxpayers currently experiencing hardship due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and may be finding it difficult to pay their Town and County taxes on time. You can view our meeting on the Town's YouTube page, if you were unable to join us live. I hope that our discussion of this legislation, which reduces the current penalty structure from 2% to one-half of 1% if taxes are paid in May and from 5% to 1% if taxes pare paid between June 1 and July 15, clarifies why my fellow Town Supervisors and I have stood in support of this legislation. The Town Board also submitted a letter of support as part of the Board of Legislator's public record on this legislation. The existing penalty structure would resume as of July 16, with the penalty raising back up to 5% for the rest of July. To put this in terms of real numbers, on the average tax bill of about $3,000, the penalty in May amounts to $15 and in June to $30. In essence, this legislation effectively extends the deadline to July 15, aligning with the extension of the State and Federal tax filing deadline. However, at the same time, by keeping the actual deadline of April 30 in place, we hope this encourages taxpayers that can pay their taxes on time to do so. As a reminder, only the Governor by Executive Order has the authority to extend the deadline for taxes, but some of the laws governing penalty structures for late payment of taxes are governed by Westchester County law. This tax bill due in April directly pays for many of the essential services we are relying on so heavily right now, including the Mid-Hudson Ambulance District, our sewer infrastructure, and many of the Westchester County agencies like the Department of Health and Department of Senior Services that are truly on the front lines of the pandemic. It is possibly more important than ever to pay your taxes on time (if you can) so these much needed services, agencies, and programs remain fully funded and ready to serve us all during these trying times.
We also discussed briefly in last week's meeting how this pandemic has begun to impact our budget and the budget of many of our neighbors and Westchester County. Over the past week, Deputy Comptroller Dale Brennan, Budget Officer Victoria Cafarelli, and I have met with nearly all Town Department Heads to evaluate our budgets, identify potential cost savings, and discuss continuity of essential services. At next Tuesday's Work Session, Dale, Victoria, and I will summarize these meetings for the Town Board and the public, to hopefully reassure all that we are doing everything we can do save to taxpayer dollars, put off nonessential projects, and more to ensure the Town remains operational to the fullest extent possible. We will also discuss information we have learned from our State and Federal partners about disaster relief programs hopefully coming soon to help local municipalities recoup what we have lost.
Also at next Tuesday's Work Session, we will be joined by some staff for departmental reports. Valerie Monastra, the Town's Planning Consultant, will join us to discuss all she has been working on since joining the Town team in January, as well as some strategies she has observed elsewhere for Land Use Boards to adapt to our new normal. Kathy Asaro, our Senior Nutrition Program Site Director, will also be joining us for a quick update on what her hardworking team has been doing for the past few weeks to ensure that our community's senior citizens do not go hungry during these difficult times. Town Clerk Sue Donnelly will also present to the Board some new online platforms she hopes to implement in her office to make even more services available remotely to our residents. I hope you will join us via Zoom to hear more, or catch the video on YouTube later.
The rest of our departments continue to chug along, working hard to continue to provide the services we have all come to depend upon. As a reminder, you can always check the Coronavirus Page on the Town's website to learn of any changes in our departmental offerings, as well as ways you can get in touch with our departments or conduct business online. For example, our Assessor's Office has been hard at work continuing to further this year's Town-wide revaluation of properties. Next week, property owners should begin to see a Preliminary Change of Assessment Notices in the mail. If you do not agree with the value assigned to your property, you can schedule a remote informal meeting with Tyler Technologies to review. Remember to do your homework! Check out recent sales in your neighborhood as comparisons. The Assessor's Office continues to process exemption applications. Please remember to file your exemption applications before the deadline of May 1 and applications are also being accepted via e-mail. Give the Assessor's Office a call at (914) 762-8274 if you need any help or have questions. You will find possibly our nicest and most helpful Town staff member on the other end of the phone, our paralegal Jerry Sullivan! Jerry loves to hear from our residents and help in any way he can, so he has been answering all phone calls to the Assessor's Office at home, while he also prepares legal documents and resolutions for tax certioraris and small claims cases. Thanks Jerry!
We are so grateful to our departments that are essential workers, still reporting to work on a regular basis. Together with the Village of Ossining Manager's Office, we have placed "We Heart our Essential Workers" window clings on the buildings where our essential workers are still hard at work. For the Town that includes our Senior Nutrition Program, Highway Department, Parks Department, Building Department, and Clerk's Office. Thank YOU! Please join us in expressing your appreciation for these amazing individuals any time you interact with them.
In the meantime, the Ossining Recreation Program has launched many virtual events and sends out daily "Boredom Busters." Sign-up for these daily fun ideas here. You can also check out past offerings and other upcoming events, including today's family handprints collage idea.
There are also local efforts to donate meals to our first responders and healthcare heroes. There are two Meal Trains being organized, one for the staff at the Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corps and one for the staff at Phelps Hospital. This is a great opportunity to show your appreciation for those on the front lines, while also supporting local restaurants with food delivery! Thank you to our friends and coworkers Sue Donnelly and Maddi Zachacz for organizing these efforts.
Tonight, join Sing Sing Kill Brewery for a virtual happy hour from 6pm to 7pm. Get those ghost stories ready!
The Ossining Farmers Market will be open again tomorrow, Saturday, April 18. Please remember the social distancing guidelines for the market and be sure to don your masks before you go out!
The Ossining School District and PTA have launched a Virtual Learning Academy with many fun classes for children. There are many ways to have fun and secretly learn about important topics at the same time!
The Ossining Public Library has launched a number of live and virtual offerings to get your library fix from home. Via Instagram and Facebook, you and your children -- from littlest ones to teens -- will be able foster their love of reading thanks to our friends at the Ossining Public Library.
Remember to continue to support as many local businesses as you can during these tough times. Many of our restaurants and cafes are still open for delivery and/or takeout -- please let us know if we are missing any on our list!
These events are just a sampling of all that has been going on in the greater Ossining community to provide some entertainment and relief from the current environment. I encourage you to sign up for e-mail blasts from other organizations to learn of even more resources. One that I have found very interesting is ArtsWestchester. There are many virtual arts events scheduled throughout the County, from poetry readings to film screenings, and everything in between, plus resources for local artists.
Finally, I would like to remind you once again to sign up for updates direct from New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo -- it is one of the best ways to remain up to date on the almost daily changes to the pandemic response, as well as some fun reminders. Yesterday's message highlighted a virtual visit to the Bronx Zoo via Instagram, did you know there is such thing as a Tree Kangaroo? Maybe you can also take a quiet moment this weekend to engage in one of the State's many innovative partnerships by listening to a meditation from Headspace's "A NY State of Mind" free playlist. I know we could all use a practice with mindfulness right now, thank you Governor Cuomo for thinking about or mental wellbeing in addition to our physical wellbeing during this incredibly difficult time.
Stay safe -- and enjoy the weekend!
- Last Updated: 10 April 2020 10 April 2020
I would like to start out with some good wishes -- I hope all those that celebrate Passover had a nice first few nights and those that celebrate Easter are taking the time to recognize a solemn Holy Week, and are looking forward to a happy Easter. This week, I had participated in a couple of Zoom seders with my family, and it was certainly bittersweet. While we were not together in person, it did offer us a chance to include family members from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Albany, Ossining, Park Slope, Mexico, California, Connecticut, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida, so I guess that is a bit of a silver lining. It is difficult, especially during these typically celebratory times, to be without our friends, families, and faith communities. And yet, thanks to the technologies available to us, we are able to celebrate this year with family near and far, which has certainly been a much needed respite from these difficult days. Thank you to Ossining's faith leaders for developing creative ways for people to celebrate their faith traditions safely this year. Also, you may notice we are sending out this message a little earlier than normal -- today Town staff are working a half day in observance of Good Friday. We will all be back Monday morning, and will respond to your inquiries then.
This week, we saw the number of Coronavirus cases in the Unincorporated Town raise to 68 and in the Village of Ossining to 363. Throughout the State, we have seen over 700 deaths per day this week, and as Governor Cuomo reminds us, it is important to remember that each one of those people represent families and communities of New Yorkers experiencing the worst outcome of the pandemic. In response to Governor Cuomo and County Executive Latimer's call, all flags flying at Town and Village buildings have been lowered to half staff until we start to see an end to the deaths caused by this pandemic. I hope this helps us all pause for a moment, and align our thoughts with the families and friends of those that have passed. However, we have also seen some positive figures regarding the number of hospitalizations across the State, which indicate that our efforts to stay at home as much as possible and exercise social distancing when we do need to go out, are in fact helping to stop the spread. Of course, we need to balance the good news with the bad, and continue to remain vigilant in our efforts to slow the growth of positive cases and ultimately prevent deaths from this illness.
It is easy to get caught up in the overflow of information these days. I am proud to see our community making constant efforts to help good news outshine the bad. This week we participated in calls with State and County officials to learn about relief options being rolled out for individuals and businesses. We are expecting to be able to share details of this relief sometime next week – including resources for those with questions. There are currently teams of qualified volunteers being trained to navigate the federal relief packages offered through the CARES ACT and US Small Business Administration.
There is also positive news for individuals facing financial hardships. Unemployment in New York has been extended from 26 weeks to 39 weeks and claims will be honored retroactive to the date of lost employment. We know the website and call line have been overwhelmed but the Governor’s office has switched services to help accommodate the influx of site/phone traffic as of last night, and will call people back within 72 hours instead of having applicants call them. Further, an additional $600 will be incoming from the State on each claim. We know people have been trying to get through to the unemployment office for weeks, we are hopeful the backlog will be clearing up within the next week.
I would like to remind you that the US Census has begun! If you have not received this information, you will be able to respond to the Census online, by phone in one of 13 languages, or by mail. Ensuring an accurate count is more important than ever right now, did you know that the Census responses are invaluable in planning for and responding to crises like the Coronavirus pandemic? The Census bureau produces timely local data that are critical to emergency planning, preparedness, and recovery efforts for all types of emergencies. Data on businesses assist in measuring the economic impact of disasters, and statistics from the American Community Survey can help identify vulnerable populations like the elderly. Learn more by reading this article from the Census Bureau. We have learned that the Town of Ossining is at a response rate that is good, but not great, so check your mailboxes for your code to respond today. We are seriously behind some of our neighbors like the Villages of Briarcliff and Croton, and the Town of New Castle (not that we are competitive or anything) -- we need to get those responses in! I promise it is painless, it only takes about 10 minutes to complete.
I held a Facebook live Q&A this week, at the normal time of our Work Session, to answer some of your questions about how Town services are adapting to the outbreak. Thank you to everyone who participated! There were two topics at top of mind for many. The first was concern with the number of local cases. Nationwide, the number of Coronavirus cases continues to rise. New York’s case number appears to be especially high and our Q&A discussed how the number of test kits acquired by the Governor had made widespread testing more possible during the first few weeks of the outbreak. The shortage of tests is still being felt, but the tests available in New York outnumber other states’ considerably. Our Open Door Medical Clinic has been conducting tests as well and had early access to testing. This means that Ossining residents who felt sick were more likely to know that they were positive. It does not necessarily mean that more people are sick in Ossining than other towns. It is the same principle as the state numbers, testing is available here, so the numbers appear higher here. As a reminder, please visit the Coronavirus Page on the Town's website, which contains helpful resources as well as detailed information about how to reach Town departments and conduct business online while many of our staff members work from home and our offices remain closed to the public.
The second topic of our Q&A was the April Property Tax deadline. As discussed, the Town of Ossining does not have the authority to extend the deadline or stagger payments. Changes to property tax deadlines can only be made by the State. However, the County Board of Legislators has introduced a resolution allowing Towns to reduce the penalty structure for the months of May, June, and July significantly. This legislation will maintain the April 30 deadline, to help us to continue operations you expect, while still providing much needed relief to our taxpayers that are experiencing financial or medical hardship at this time. We also learned this week that the Village of Ossining has extended the deadline for this quarter's water bills to June 5. Thank you to our colleagues on the Village Board of Trustees for taking this action which will hopefully provide some relief to residents of the Town and Village of Ossining.
Next Tuesday, April 14, we will be resuming our normal Town Board meeting schedule via Zoom. On Tuesday, we will hold a Legislative Session in order to pay bills and conduct other essential business of the Town. In addition to our legislative matters, we will also be conducting a Work Session discussion about the proposed legislation from the Westchester County Board of Legislators, with support from all Town Supervisors in the county, regarding property tax relief. I hope you will tune in to learn more about the proposed legislation as we discuss the potential implications for the Town and its constituents, as well as a possible letter of support from the Town Board for the legislation.
As you may be aware, Town and County taxes are due by April 30. If payment is not made by April 30, the current penalty for payment in May is 2%, for payment in June or July is 5%, and for payment in August or September is 7%. The new legislation from the Westchester County Board of Legislators as currently drafted reduces these penalties significantly to one-half of 1% if taxes are paid in May, 1% if taxes are paid between June 1 and July 15, and 5% if the taxes are paid between July 16 and July 31. At this time, there is no reduction in penalties for paying in August or September. This legislation is the product of thoughtful collaboration that all believe would provide relief to taxpayers while ensuring that the County and Westchester's Towns could continue to provide the essential services that we all depend upon, even more so in these difficult times. In fact, we feel this solution is preferable to an extension of the deadline by the State, which can only be for a period of 21 days, or until May 21. This legislation effectively extends the deadline through July 15, and still significantly reduces the financial burden of paying your taxes late through the end of July. I would still like to encourage any of our taxpayers that are fortunate enough to not be facing extreme hardships at this time to please pay your taxes in a timely fashion. Doing so will help your neighbors who cannot, and ensure our public services remain intact during these tough times. Hopefully, during Tuesday's meeting, we can provide a more thorough explanation of the collaborative path to this proposal and why Towns throughout Westchester are supportive. If you cannot join us live, the meeting will be recorded and posted to the Town's YouTube page on Wednesday.
I encourage everyone to sign up for Coronavirus updates from New York State. Getting current and accurate information will help us continue to flatten the curve in New York – and by extension across the rest of the country. Governor Cuomo and his team also tend to share some fun and interesting news, as well, so these e-mails are certainly filled with the kind of news you want to hear right now! This week, Governor Cuomo shared through this mailing list that the company Headspace has created free content accessible to all New Yorkers. If you or your child are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or maybe just need some help calming your mind while you fall asleep, I encourage you to check out the "NY State of Mind" exclusive content from Headspace for a much needed relaxing and quiet meditation.
There continue to be opportunities for those that may be food insecure at this time to access meals and food supplies. The Village of Ossining has partnered with Feeding Westchester for food distribution weekly. There will be a distribution on Tuesday, April 14, with specific times and locations to come early next week. The Gullotta House has been able to provide thousands of meals across Westchester to those in need, and will have a meal distribution this evening, see below for details. The Ossining Food Pantry, although currently closed, has continued to provide clients with financial assistance for groceries. The Food Pantry at the Community Center of Northern Westchester remains a resource for all Westchester residents to obtain assistance. Thank you to all the volunteers helping to keep everyone happy, healthy, and fed during this difficult time!
The Ossining Farmers Market will be open this Saturday, April 11. See below special guidelines for this weekend to help keep shoppers and vendors safe and healthy.
For those of you entering your fourth week of staying home to slow the spread, I am happy to share that virtual classes abound! We all told ourselves that we would love to learn to play piano/write a book/learn to dance/get fit if we only had the time – well there’s no time like quaranTIME. If you did not know about some of these amazing Ossining businesses – now is the time to learn something new. For all of us looking for some activities while we are stuck at home, Ossining businesses have come to the rescue!
Dragonfly Yoga Studio is reminding us to breathe and take in this like-no-other moment. Their virtual yoga classes and sound baths are here to help you destress and stabilize. They have shifted their meditations and lessons online – visit their Facebook page for class details.
The Mike Risko Music school is offering virtual store tours and delivery of purchases. You can also take guided piano or guitar lessons. Check out their Facebook page for videos and more info! Who doesn’t secretly wish their parents had taught them piano years ago?
UMAC Briarcliff has channeled its martial arts lessons into powerful energy bites! Their website has schedule information for virtual lessons and video sign up info is on Facebook. Join their points program to play along and check out their YouTube page for classes you may have missed.
Logrea Dance Academy is hosting online dance classes for those who want to learn ballet, tap, jazz, Zumba, or fitness conditioning. No need to be a current student, you can join in on the fun via Zoom or livestreamed classes on their Facebook page! Check out the Logrea website for a schedule of their available classes.
To expand your acting range check out Theater O’s monologue coaching and acting classes. Take a look at some of the amazing options – including scheduled classes for kids home from school.
Westchester Dance Artists is using the tag #stilldancing to help spread the love! They are regularly posting videos and online classes with mini-classes and videos on how to stretch and warm up. Check out their YouTube page and Facebook for more info.
Club Fit has also risen to the challenge of these new home-bound times. Visit their Facebook page for their instructor-guided workouts, fitness prompts, yoga, cardio, Zumba, and more! There are introductory videos and full classes available.
A Maze in Pottery is offering free doorstep delivery of Easter kits and other goodies! The ceramic projects are adapted for home use and give kids a chance to dive into creative projects.
Following our success with our restaurants list, we've been asked to help create a central list of businesses that have adapted to offer their services remotely. With traditional modes of communication (and visitation!) disrupted, we want to make sure businesses in the Town aren't forgotten. Help us add to this list by emailing me or calling my office.
The Ossining PTA knows every parent needs an extra hand these days. They have put together a list of home classes and activities specifically for your littlest ones.
It is easy to feel alone when you’re home all day. We’re happy to share some virtual events taking place this week! The Ossining Public Library has curated a mind-blowing list of events, concerts, music, kids story time readings, museum tours. Check out the list and their other resources here! Much love to our dedicated Library Staff for this work.
We encourage you to continue to support restaurants if you can. We know times are tough and we are happy to see so many trying to help our favorite eateries open.
If you feel you have developed flu-like symptoms please call your medical provider or a hospital before appearing for testing. Mobile testing centers are by-appointment-only and must be scheduled through the hotline. If you have trouble breathing (including bluish fingertips or lips) or chest pains call 911 immediately. As a reminder, most cases of Coronavirus do not present with severe symptoms. For questions regarding COVID-19, please call the New York State Coronavirus Hotline 1-888-364-3065 or dial 211 for information. The CDC website is an excellent resource for information. As a reminder, please refer only to official sources of information to the dangerous effects of misinformation at this crucial point.
Happy Passover and Happy Easter to all who celebrate! I hope you find this week's holidays a restful time with family and friends, even if you can only visit via your computer screen.