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Ossining Candidates Discuss Police Station, Taxes

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – High county taxes, animosity between Ossining and Briarcliff and the use of the Town of Ossining's police station were some of the issues discussed during a candidates forum sponsored by the Briarcliff Manor Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday night.

Susan Konig, the Republican and Conservative candidate for County Legislator District 9, said with Westchester County having the highest property taxes in the nation, she wouldn't move here to set up a business.

"By next year we have to not have the highest taxes in the nation. Give that to someone else," she said at the forum held in Briarcliff Middle School.

Ossining Town Supervisor Catherine Borgia, who is running against Konig on the Democratic, Independence and Working Families party lines for county legislator, said she has recently been grappling with the Town of Ossining's budget to see where costs can be cut.

"The current 2 percent tax cap is a challenge but it's a good challenge," she said, "It looks like in the current budget we will come in well under 2 percent,” adding that, “We need to think creatively to come up with solutions."

On the issue of the town's police station, Borgia was asked why the facility is being used by county police without their having to pay rent.

Borgia said that the Town of Ossining had considered either merging with the Village of Ossining's police department or contracting police work out to county police, and decided that there would be more long-term savings with the county police.

The town's police building was built to be used for police, and "we thought it would be a shame not to use the building for its original use," she said.

Borgia said the town could charge the county police rent for using the building, but she thought that would be analogous to someone charging a cook for using their kitchen. "The food would end up costing more," she said.

Current Councilmember Peter Tripodi, who is running on the Republican, Conservative and Independence party lines for town supervisor, suggested moving the town's building department into the police building, or selling or renting the facility.

Current Ossining Village Trustee Susanne Donnelly, who is running on the Democratic and Working Families lines for town supervisor against Tripodi, said she thinks it's time to sell or lease the town's police facility, "but as a police station."

Following discussions of the town police station, forum moderator Jerry Gershner asked candidates to address a perceived animosity between Briarcliff and Ossining stemming from issues like shared police services and court consolidation.

Town councilmember candidate Eric Blaha, who is running on the Democratic and Working Families party lines, said he has a lot of "dear friends" in Briarcliff, and he doesn't think the relationship between the two municipalities is as bad as some people think.

Blaha’s running mate Geoffrey Harter, a current town councilmember running on the Democratic, Independence and Working Families lines, said all parts of the Town of Ossining need to work together in order to attract businesses to the area.

"I pledge to you to be open and honest about issues that affect the town, and I mean the whole town including the Village of Ossining, the Village of Briarcliff and the town outside in Ossining," he said.

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