- Last Updated: 19 December 2018 19 December 2018
Maddi Zachacz, Budget Director
phone (914) 762-6001
fax (914) 762-0833
16 Croton Avenue
Ossining, NY 10562
The Budget Office is located on the third floor of the Town offices. Office hours are Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm.
A Message to the Community Regarding the Supervisor’s
Tentative 2019 Budget
Dana Levenberg, Town Supervisor
October 30th, 2018
As we say goodbye to another year in the Town of Ossining, I am proud to say that we continue to be right on track with our finances, which allows me to have the honor of submitting the Town’s 8th tax-cap compliant budget. As the umbrella government for the Village of Ossining and most of the Village of Briarcliff Manor, the Town Board is charged with overseeing the General Fund, into which all residents who call Ossining home pay a portion of their real estate taxes. We also serve as the direct government for the residents of the Unincorporated Town, who pay into the Town General budget for mainly administrative services, but also into the Unincorporated Fund (200) for police, safety inspection, zoning and planning, into the Highway Fund (310) for road maintenance and snow removal services, and into a variety of Special District funds for the purposes of funding sewer, street lighting, fire protection and refuse and recycling services. As always, we have made a conscious effort to keep costs as low as reasonably possible while ensuring that our residents receive services at the level to which they have become accustomed, and I feel that you will see that reflected in the 2019 Supervisor’s Budget submittal.
Late this past summer, communities all over New York State were breathing a sigh of relief, as we were made aware that the state-wide cap was set at 2% for 2019. This is the first time since the inception of the tax cap that the percentage by which municipalities were able to increase their tax levy has been actually at the promised 2%. This cap only refers to the maximum amount by which we can raise the levy (the amount we collect in taxes), subject to a complicated formula established by the state. In years past, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), it has always been well below 2%. Because the economy has improved, the CPI has as well, which is good news. As such, the amount by which according to state law, we are permitted to raise Town taxes this year without an override (which we do not intend to seek) is just $235,438 over our entire budget. That may seem like a chunk of change, but considering that many of our major cost drivers increase by much more than 2% on an annual basis, and are completely outside of our control, you can see why there is a need for this extra breathing room. In addition, as part of the formula, municipalities or special districts are assigned a “growth factor” that compounds the tax cap and is dependent on the amount of brick and mortar construction that has taken place within the municipal boundaries during a specific measurement period. This year, the Town realized a growth factor of 1.0012%, up from 0% in 2018. We are looking forward to an even higher number in 2020, when we should have several new developments online, including the Artis Memory Care Facility on North State Road and the Parth Knolls townhouse development on Hawkes Avenue.
As far as those cost drivers I mentioned, it is no secret that the lion’s share of any municipal budget is personnel, and our Town is no exception. We employ more than 60 people year-round, more than half of whom belong to a collective bargaining unit, and we sit down at the table every few years to re-negotiate a contract. We are incredibly fortunate to have such an excellent working relationship with the CSEA and the Teamsters, and they have both demonstrated an appreciation for our position under the tax cap when it comes to negotiating increases for their staff. However, when it comes to some of our other obligations, a good working relationship does little to help us. Our medical insurance, which is through New York State’s Empire Plan, is anticipating an 8% increase to premium cost. We are expecting a similar rate hike from New York Power Authority. Of course, this incentivizes us to keep changing to LED fixtures as fast as we can. Also out of our control are heating oil and fuel prices, both of which can be volatile and difficult to predict. We also are preparing to sign a new four-year agreement with the Village of Ossining for police services beginning in 2019, the cost of which increases in excess of 3% each year as a result of the settlement of a longstanding employment contract with the Ossining PBA. However, as always, our Department Heads have submitted thoughtful requests for our consideration, most of which I was happy to honor, and we are proudly coming in under the tax cap with a little extra to use towards our 2020 budget when the time comes.
Even though we are spending more, the tax rates for most of our funds are decreasing. This may seem counterintuitive, but don’t forget that when we completed the Town-wide revaluation several years back, we made the commitment to keep our roll updated each year. By reviewing those values annually on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, our Assessor is able to apply a factor to each neighborhood where sale prices have increased. The real estate market continues to be robust throughout most of Ossining, and our assessments have increased in many neighborhoods throughout the town. Add this to the fact that we have seen some new development this past year, and the result is that the entire “pie” has gotten bigger, so the rate paid by all taxpayers has gone down. If you are one of our property owners whose assessment has increased, this means that your taxes may increase, but it also means that we believe based on comparable sales in your area that your home’s value is increasing, which is never bad news these days.
You can rest assured that the Town of Ossining is making the most of your tax dollars and is in good financial shape—our commitment to making your dollar stretch can be seen in every project we undertake, most recently the resurfacing of the Louis Engel Spray Park, a sorely-needed upgrade that was funded by a generous Dormitory Authority grant from State Senator David Carlucci. And when we can’t find a grant to provide funding for a project, we try to do as much of the work in house as possible to save on overhead. Ossining’s residents receive extensive services in exchange for their investment into the General Fund, including school, county and town tax collection, assessment and clerk services, nutrition, exercise and transportation programs for our senior citizens, grants administration, legislative government, and our ever-improving Town Parks, for roughly $327 per household per year. Residents of our Unincorporated Area also benefit from our many shared-service agreements with the Villages of Ossining and Briarcliff Manor, resulting in a lower tax bill than if we were to provide services like police, sanitation and fire protection on our own. That does not stop us from taking a close look each year at how we can squeeze that nickel a bit harder so that we can continue to introduce projects that add intrinsic value to the community (and, by extension, improve your property values). We also are happy to partner with our municipalities to benefit the community at large. For example, we recently worked with the Village of Briarcliff as lead agency on a project contributed to by Assemblywoman Sandy Galef’s and Senator David Carlucci’s multi-modal funds, as well as in-kind work from Westchester County, spearheaded by Legislator Catherine Borgia to greatly improve the much used intersection at Route 9A and North State Road. I hope you are finding this area much less of a hardship at rush hours than it had been before, for both pedestrians and cars. To tie into that, one of our priorities has been to improve access to alternative forms of transportation. You may have heard about MOGO -- Millwood Ossining Go! For this, we partnered with the Town of New Castle and the Village of Ossining, with help and support from the Village of Briarcliff to develop a plan for bicycle and pedestrian connectivity from Downtown Ossining over to the North County Trailway. We are in the process of utilizing grant funds secured through the Hudson Valley Greenway as well as through a Clean Energy Communities grant from NYSERDA to establish safe bicycle access on North State Road as a first phase of implementing this vision. We look forward to seeking additional grant funds and working with our partners to help us implement other recommendations from the MOGO plan.
Here is what we are planning for 2019:
- We are nearly done with our multi-year plan to revitalize our Town Parks. This past year, our final pavilion was completed and we are on to the final phase, which includes repaving extensive sections of our parks’ internal roads and lots, along with installing an LED field lighting system for Gerlach Park, restoring the tennis courts at Ryder Park, and completing the dock/kayak launch project at Cedar Lane Park funded by a grant from Senator David Carlucci. We are also hoping to take on a project that has been shelved for many years—the rejuvenation of Sally Swope Sitting Park on Hawkes Avenue. Our Parks Foreman has a few ideas for what can be done there, and we are looking forward to turning it into the landmark that it deserves to be!
- We have submitted multiple Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) applications to the Urban County Consortium for the coming three-year cycle, and we are hopeful that our efforts to secure a new bus for our Seniors, some renovations for our Senior Nutrition kitchen at the Community Center, and a plan for some significant improvements to Louis Engel Park, including the addition of a usable public beach, will get the nod from the County. All of these items have long been on our list, but if grant funding is available to offset some or all of the costs, it is much easier to justify attacking them sooner rather than later. We are also waiting to hear back on the status of several other grants, including those we applied for through New York State’s Regional Council/Consolidated Funding Application process. These include a grant for a food scrap collection site, for a new comprehensive plan with a focus on sustainability, for a new Highway salt shed, for improvements to Cedar Lane Park’s Greenhouse area, as well as for an environmentally friendly approach to paving at Gerlach Park. We have also applied to the Hudson Valley Greenway for a grant to undertake a master park plan for Engel Park which we hope will come in before the CDBG grant, as we do also for another Hudson River Estuary grant which would help us reengineer the beach there.
- We are continuing to explore what kinds of projects we can undertake at Dale Cemetery to highlight the natural beauty of the location while also restoring the Superintendent’s Cottage to its former glory in an historically accurate way. Our Superintendent Pete Connolly has been proposing regular upgrades to the property and we have taken his advice—just this past year, several internal roads were re-paved and stone walls re-pointed, not to mention the unveiling of the Historic Trail Markers with the help of the Ossining Historic Cemeteries Conservancy, and some new benches, which were funded through a grant to the conservancy sponsored by Senator David Carlucci. Dale Cemetery is not a taxing entity, which means it has long been dependent on its own fund balance, along with infusions from the Town General Fund, to augment the Cemetery’s revenues. However, Pete and his crew have been doing an outstanding job and we are getting close to having a self-sufficient cemetery once again.
The Supervisor’s Tentative 2019 Budget is available in the Town Clerk’s Office at 16 Croton Avenue, the Ossining Public Library, and online at www.townofossining.com. There will be a short presentation on the proposed budget at the Tuesday, November 20th Town Board Work Session, which is scheduled to take place at 16 Croton Avenue beginning at 7:30PM.
The Ossining Town Board will also be discussing the Supervisor’s Tentative Budget with our department heads during the month of November on the following days and times:
- Friday, November 9th: 12PM- 5PM, 16 Croton Avenue, 3rd Floor Conference Room
- Wednesday, November 14th: 9:30AM- 1:30PM, 16 Croton Avenue, 3rd Floor Conference Room
pdf Town of Ossining - Fund Balance Policy (54 KB) (Passed by Town Board June 2, 2010)
folder Archive - Voucher Detail Reports - Approved vouchers by the Town Board.
The Town of Ossining (the “Town”) has an important responsibility to its citizens to carefully account for public funds, to manage municipal finances wisely and to plan the adequate funding of services desired by the public, including the provision and maintenance of public facilities.
An important indicator of the financial stability of the Town is its un-reserved fund balance that represents the un-assigned and unencumbered balance of the Town’s revenues held in the Town’s numerous funds.