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17/20 Annexation Generates Heated Discussion

OSSINING, N.Y. – One of the residents pushing to have a portion of the unicorporated part of Ossining annexed by Briarcliff explained his impetus when he said he simply believes Briarcliff runs better than Ossining.

"It looks to me like I would save some taxes, but even if I were going to break even, I'd still rather be in Briarcliff because I think it's run better," said Ken Godfrey in front of a crowd of about 150 people at the Anne M. Dorner Middle School Thursday night.

Godfrey said that aside from liking the name of the village of Briarcliff, the Briarcliff Recreation Department and the valet parking at Scarborough train station, he also likes that Briarcliff has a "rainy day fund," that unlike Ossining it doesn't have "career politicians" running things, and that there are no political parties in Briarcliff.

"I also think that the town (of Ossining) is looking at consolidating with the village. That's affecting me and it's making me uncomfortable," said Godfrey, who is one of 12 people pushing for annexation.

Godfrey's comments were heard after a long PowerPoint presentation by Town of Ossining Supervisor Catherine Borgia and several other town officials detailing how much residents in Briarcliff, the Town of Ossining not including election districts 17 and 20, and the proposed annexation district would save or not save following annexation.

"We have to take a long-term view of this," Borgia said. "We don't feel there's a benefit of annexation to any stake holder. We think that annexation will harm many taxpayers, especially those living in what would be left of the Town of Ossining."

Among other issues, Borgia pointed out that residents of election districts 17 and 20 would be double paying for refuse collection, municipal water, municipal sewer, municipal street lighting, police, ambulance, fire protection and library services if they are annexed by the village of Briarcliff.

That is because state law does not allow for removal or change in taxation for "special district" services even after annexation.

Borgia also explained that Briarcliff Manor's long-term intention is to become its own coterminous town/village rather than belonging to the Town of Ossining and the Town of Mount Pleasant as it does now.

After listening to most of the annexation presentation, Eric Illowsky, a resident of the proposed annexation district, said "I think it's a travesty that the local government has had to spend all this time dealing with this because of what 12 people want."

Kim Jeffrey, another resident in the proposed annexation district said she felt there was nothing in the proposed change that would benefit her.

"I will scratch, kick and fight to stay exactly as I am," she said. "And if Briarcliff is studying this so intently, there's something in this for them."

The proposed annexation district makes up about one third of the current unincorporated part of the Town of Ossining. It includes a commercial strip on North State Road.

The next step in order to proceed with the proposed annexation is for residents of election districts 17 and 20 to come up with a petition signed by 20 percent of residents, or about 300 out of 1,500 people. Borgia said she has not yet seen any petition.

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