Monday, August 10, 2015

Bazzomanifesto Update 08/10/15: 3 Topics In Today's blog

THIS BLOGS TOPICS:

1) Statement from Ed Cox on Schumer's Opposition to Iran Deal

2) Town Of Ossining: Supervisor’s Update- August 7th, 2015

3) Schumer Playing Game on Iran Nuke Deal, Sign the Petition to Tell Him to Stop the Deal

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CONTACT: Jessica Proud (914) 438-5325

Statement from Chairman Cox on 
Schumer's Opposition to Iran Deal

August 7, 2015

"After weeks of pondering, Senator Schumer announced opposition to the Iran deal. Good for him, but it's not enough. He needs to display the qualities of a wannabe Senate Majority leader. This deal will nuclearize a volatile Middle East and represents an existential threat to our great ally Israel. Schumer must act like a leader and use his influence with his colleagues to block it. Killing this terrible deal requires forceful political action; this is not a time to be timid." --New York State Republican Committee Chairman Ed Cox

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New York Republican State Committee | 315 State Street | Albany | NY | 12210
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    The Volunteer-Spirited Town
 

Supervisor's Update - August 7th, 2015


During the presentation from the Tax Receiver at the August 4th, 2015 Work Session of the Town of Ossining, there was some misinformation and stale data used.  In order that the residents and tax payers of the Town of Ossining have accurate information, we will make some corrections to that information.
Regarding the Management Letter from our Auditors:
Response by Thomas Warren, Town Comptroller- June 12th, 2015
Corrective Action Response to FYE December 31, 2014 Communication of Internal Control Matters Identified in the Audit
Tax Receiver – Receipts and Disbursements
“With respect to the courier service finding, the Bank advised that the Town is required to keep a photocopy of the checks submitted for deposit, and the Bank would process the check copies for payment if there was a loss (such as courier vehicle fire).  Moreover, the Bank was provided suggested contract language in 2010 to strengthen a three-party contract, but did not act on the changes.
Regardless, the Bank continued to provide courier services to the Town under an apparent expired agreement.
In the past several months, I have, in my role as Village Treasurer and Town Comptroller, along with my Deputy, met with the Town Supervisor and various banks to discuss certain banking and financial services that fall under the control and direction of the Town Supervisor as chief fiscal officer, including courier services and possible alternatives.
As for accepting tax collections, our office is only aware of being asked to accept, in safekeeping, one payment as a convenience to the taxpayer when the Tax Receiver’s Office was closed.  When a resident or taxpayer makes a visit to any Town office to conduct business, good public policy should dictate that the customer be helped.  If budgetary restrictions or other circumstances do not allow for the Tax Office to be open, perhaps the Receiver could allow for a designee in another office (such as in Town Clerk’s Office, Assessor’s Office, or Supervisor’s Office) to accept a tax payment subject to verification, similar to situations where a Tax Receiver uses a lockbox processing company to accept property tax payments.” 

With respect to all departments in the Town of Ossining
Every department in the Town of Ossining is very busy and the staff work incredibly hard.  Every part of government has its own complications and systems, and we are proud of each and every staff member for smoothing that road (sometimes literally) for our residents.  While some departments have very diverse duties, some concentrate on a single function.

There have been improvements and upgrades made to the Tax Receiver’s Office in the past few years.  Automation is a wonderful thing, and the purpose is not to replace good customer service but to enhance it, allowing staff to focus on more complex issues that also impact the high degree of customer satisfaction our residents have come to enjoy.

  • The majority of taxes are paid by consolidated companies on behalf of mortgage holders.  There are about 5 major companies that electronically send the information to the Tax Receiver’s Office, and the associated funds are directly deposited in the bank. 
  • Until 1 ½ years ago, the Tax Receiver and her staff would print the letter and the bills, stuff the envelopes, print the postage on the envelope and prepare it for mail pickup.  Now, files are sent electronically and a company does all the mail merging, including the postage and mailing. The tax bills, letters and receipts are printed and mailed out by an outside printing company. 
There has been some talk around the office that the new software being used in the Town of Ossining Assessor’s Office was not going to work with the older software used by the Tax Office, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The new software being used in the Office of the Assessor has the capability to export any file layout needed by the version of KVS currently being used by the Tax Receiver’s Office.

That said, the Town and Village of Ossining share a Finance Department; over the past several months, we have been investigating new financial packages that incorporate all facets of municipal government, and have interviewed and met with multiple banking institutions to determine the best way to move forward for both municipalities and make sure all of our needs are being met.
Some of the areas we covered were:
  • The flexibility of a package: the ability to customize by user while also seamlessly integrating all departments
  • The ability to have electronic deposits of all checks that are received by the Town and Village of Ossining.  In the case of tax receipts or water payments, it was essential that the application had the ability to send a file back to the municipality within a short window of time (no greater than 12 hours) to update the data in the accounting package (currently KVS)
  • The ability to deposit cash using a drop safe system, where the bank and armored car assume responsibility as soon as the money is counted and deposited into the drop safe
  • The use of “Positive Pay” (the ability to confirm legitimate checks) down to the payee for all paper checks distributed by the Town and Village
  • The ability to slowly transition into electronic payments of all invoices (1-2 year process), eliminating the use of paper checks by both municipalities
  • The ability to maintain the highest interest rates available on the accounts, with the understanding that large sums of money are regularly transferred to the taxing agency as required by law
  • The ability to take electronic checks, as well as debit and credit cards, for online and at counter transactions, allowing residents and property owners of the Town/Village of Ossining to pay for both taxes and services electronically.  Presently, we have the ability only to have taxes and select recreation programs via the internet.  There is no ability to take electronic check, debit or credit for Recreation Programs or Tax collection at the “counter” unless someone is on the internet.
It should be noted that, in the case of the Town of Ossining, the Chief Financial Officer (the Town Supervisor) is responsible for all funds in all bank accounts, and while the Tax Receiver must deposit funds in a timely manner and protect those funds while they are in his/her custody, the Town Supervisor is ultimately responsible for transferring the funds to the proper agencies. 

Since the recession of 2009-2011, interest rates are practically nonexistent- our major bank is actually paying us more basis points than they are receiving from the “Feds”.  The days of negotiating your interest rates may come again, but at the moment, that is impossible. 

Our investigations have confirmed that a municipality is not tied to a bank in the event that we experience issues with the services provided.  EVERY bank has the ability to scan checks and, in the case of taxes and water payments, the “coupons”, including the ability to send files back, effectively updating the finance program as to which account should be credited, without manually entering that information.  The third party package presented by the Tax Receiver on several occasions does not have the ability to update the financial package, resulting in extra steps for the department personnel.  Besides the cost of the product and maintenance, the extra work required of the staff makes it a bad solution.  The major bank will supply the scanners and software needed because it makes good business sense to them to make their client happy- it also allows them to eliminate paper (the checks being deposited), which means fewer hands have to touch the paper to process the transaction, which helps them to save on personnel.  Consequently, the Town and Village have a quicker turnaround with deposits, resulting in funds clearing faster and an increase in interest accrued.

All department staffing is distributed in accordance with the amount of work that is required by that department.  By this standard, there is no difference from how the public and private sector work, as many of our taxpayers understand.  The conservation of funds allocated to personnel is always essential, but in these economic times, it is of the highest importance that everyone do their fair share of the work and is constantly conscious where their paychecks come from (the taxpayers). The Town’s office hours are 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM and we welcome visitors to come and meet with us during those hours.  At times, due to scheduled vacations and illness, an office may only have one person assigned to it. In those instances, it is essential that we work together with other departments to ensure that we do not fail to meet our number one goal- serving the public to the best of our ability.  When an individual is on lunch or break, coverage can be provided by a supporting department.  This is called “scheduling” – proper scheduling takes into consideration all parties involved and requires a team attitude.  When this does not happen organically, the leader must take necessary action to ensure that customer service is not sacrificed, which sometimes requires “out of the box” thinking.

Exciting news from the Town
Bond Anticipation Note
The Town of Ossining heard from our fiscal advisor on Wednesday regarding the $ 2,301,062 Bond Anticipation Note we plan to issue later this month.  There was great interest in this BAN from the banking and financial institutions and we received seven low, competitive proposals. The interest rate we got is 0.700%, or less than 3/4 of one percent. We will be using the BAN to pay for:
  • The 2nd of 3 issues for the reassessment
  • LED street lighting project for the Unincorporated Area
  • Recirculation project at the Louis Engel Spray Park
  • "Roll-Over" of the Old Albany Post Road Dead End Project (for which we anticipate FEMA compensation)
We are very pleased with this result!! Our outstanding credit rating of AA2 really pays off!! We are extremely proud of everyone involved.

Paving of roads
As of today (Friday), Stormytown Road & Brookside Lane have been completed, and Mancuso Drive is well on its way. Gordon Avenue, Blue Lantern Road, and River Parkway will be the next leg of the project.
PLEASE drive only the speed limit and use caution.  We will be continuing the work on these roads and by the end of next week when the white and yellow guidelines will be repainted.  The police have been notified to closely watch these roads for people who forget that there are other drivers using the road, as well as bikers and walkers.

Millings from the roads being paved
Often when roads are re-paved, there are multiple layers on the surface of the road that must be stripped away to ensure that the road can be properly surfaced, the curbs can do their job, and that storm water catch basins and man hole covers are level with the road. While not all roads require milling, we had several on this project that did.
Those millings (the layers shaved off of the road) can be re-purposed to grade parking lots, which we have done in the parking lot at Cedar Lane Park, a re-use that also saves money by not having to pay hauling and tipping fees to dispose of the millings. This project has been a great example of true team work (with compliments from the subcontractor doing the milling); the Town Parks Department and Town Highway Department worked together to make sure that, as soon the dump trucks were filled, they went over to Cedar Lane Park’s parking lot, where our Parks Foreman Mario and Matteo from our Highway Department rolled out the millings and stabilized the parking lot.  This took several hours and, by the end of the day, there were only two piles left.  The Parks Department will take care of it ASAP, but in the meanwhile, there are plenty of new, smooth places to park at Cedar Lane! Let us remind everyone that work is always going on in our Parks to keep them green, beautiful and fun- while it might be a slight inconvenience while repairs are in progress, we’re sure you’ll agree that the results will be well worth it.
 
Happenings around Ossining
Tonight (August 7th, 2015) Ossining Fire Department Parade will kick off at 7PM at Melrose Lumber, continuing down Croton Avenue to Main Street, and down Main Street to the Post Office. Come out and cheer on our first responders from this and many other communities!
Friday, August 14th, 2015 Our own KJ Denhert and her band will be playing at Louis Engel Waterfront Park at 7PM as part of our Summer Concert Series. Come early with your family and picnic, or purchase dinner from Wobble Café (right there in the park) and make a night of it. Come help us celebrate KJ’s recent International Music Award!
Friday August 21st, 2015   The Old Mill Singers will perform at the Louis Engel Waterfront Park at 7PM.  Come early with your family and picnic, or purchase dinner from Wobble Café (right there in the park) for a blast!!!

Sue

Please feel free to forward this e-mail to any of your family, friends, acquaintances, or business associates who may have an interest in these, as well as other Town subjects.
As always, please feel very free to contact me with any questions.
Susanne Donnelly, Town Supervisor
16 Croton Ave, Ossining NY 10562
914-762-6001
sdonnelly@townofossining.com
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Today at 8:59 AM
Bazzo 08/10/15
 
 

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