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November 21, 2019

Politics

Ballot issues to convert three elective posts to appointed public jobs in the Town of Ossining will be up for a vote at the Ossining Community Center starting Oct. 26 through Election Day, Nov. 5 -- when regular polling places will be open as usual.
Ossining Supervisor Dana Levenberg

Voters In Two Towns Asked To Convert Key Elective Offices To Appointed Jobs

As part of the fall election, Ossining Town Board will ask voters whether they support the conversion of the elected offices of Tax Receiver, Town Clerk, and Highway Superintendent to appointed offices.

The town of Mount Pleasant recently added a referendum to its fall ballot to eliminate the elected office of Highway Superintendent. 

Ossining's three ballot issues are the culmination of the first phase of "ProjectForward," a grant-funded effort by the Town. The project's goal is to streamline and modernize town government. A survey, engagement forums and public hearings allowed residents to react to the concepts developed by the Town.

“This is entirely in the hands of our Ossining voters,” said Ossining Supervisor Dana Levenberg.

Critics of the conversion argue that appointing these positions opens the door to cronyism, calling it "a power grab" by the town Supervisor’s office.

“We have made the case that we will save money in the future by working towards combining the offices of Tax Receiver and Town Clerk, which positively impacts all voters in the Town. And the Highway Superintendent position, which only services residents in the unincorporated area of the town, would still exist, as would all the staffing and services. But we’d get a lot more flexibility to negotiate future efficiencies while preserving town services," Levenberg said in a news statement.

Ossining is not alone in seeking to convert elective posts to appointed jobs.

The towns of New Castle, Cortlandt, Yorktown and Greenburgh, are among Westchester's municipalities that have shifted at least one of the positions of Clerk, Receiver or Treasurer, and Highway Superintendent from elected to appointed. 

Residents of the town of North Castle recently voted to eliminate the elected Office of Receiver of Taxes. 

Within the town of Ossining, both the villages of Ossining and Briarcliff Manor have appointed Treasurers, as well as appointed positions equivalent to Superintendent of Highways. The functions of a Village Clerk are performed by an appointed “unclassified” employee in the village of Briarcliff Manor. In the village of Ossining, the position of clerk is shared with the town of Ossining through an intermunicipal agreement.

“This is not a radical proposition,” Levenberg said. “The reason so many of our neighbors are doing this is that the era of the tax cap and SALT (increased federal taxes), and the rise of new technologies, have made modernization and streamlining of small government a priority for everyone.”

Three separate ballot initiatives will be on the ballot starting Saturday, Oct. 26 with the onset of early voting. In Ossining, the early voting location is on the upper level of the the Ossining Community Center, 95 Broadway,  

On Saturday, Oct. 26 and Sunday, Oct. 27, polls will be open from noon to 5 p.m. 

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 28, Wednesday, Oct. 30 and Friday, Nov. 1.

Polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29 and Thursday, Oct. 31. They also will be open from noon to 5 p..m. on Saturday, Nov. 2 and Sunday, Nov. 3.

Finally, on Election Day, Nov. 5, voters will be able to vote at their regular polling places from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.