OSSINING, N.Y. – A group of Ossining residents who want to be a part of the Village of Briarcliff Manor said they have enough signatures to put it to a vote. But they’re not rushing to hand them in just yet.
Former Ossining Town Supervisor Barbara Fratianni is helping lead a group in the Town of Ossining’s election Districts 17 and 20 who have signed a petition to put the possibility of annexation into Briarcliff Manor to a vote of the people. The Briarcliff Manor Board of Trustees and the Town of Ossining Board have also held several meetings on the topic, the latest in Ossining on Aug. 21, which would affect roughly 1,600 residents in the two districts.
For annexation to be put to a vote, 5 percent of registered voters in Districts 17 and 20, or roughly 225 voters, would need to sign a petition.
“We have well over 325 signatures but we’re continuing to get people to sign every day,” Fratianni said Monday. “We’re continuing to collect the petitions so we can get a really good idea of all of the people who would like to be annexed. We want to get a good sampling and we want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to sign it.”
Fratianni added that it is unlikely that the group would file the petitions with the Town of Ossining or Village of Briarcliff Manor anytime soon.
“We don’t have a timeframe just yet but I’m thinking maybe toward the end of the year or beginning of next year,” she said. “It’s important that we give everyone an opportunity to sign it first.”
If the referendum does go to a vote, it would go only to the residents of Districts 17 and 20, officials with Briarcliff Manor and Ossining said. But that is nearly the extent as to what officials from the respective municipalities do agree. Town of Ossining officials said they held the Aug. 21 meeting to make it clear how the potential annexation would affect the town.
“We wanted to make sure that people knew the facts,” said Town Supervisor Susanne Donnelly. “We talked about salaries because (the village of Briarcliff Manor) keeps bringing up that the village board doesn’t make money. But their village manager makes $170,000. If you’re going to do apples to apples, about how many administrators make money, you have to compare all of the salaries.”
Philip Zegarelli, Briarcliff’s village manager, said the numbers presented at the meeting don’t represent the whole picture.
“I’ve told Sue Donnelly I didn’t think they compared apples to apples,” Zegarelli said Monday. “They weren’t talking about the costs of administration versus us and the village debt structure, which was not as candid as it could be.”
Both officials agree, however, that there is not much left to be discussed until the petition signatures are filed.
“I think we’re at a type of plateau that can only go further once the petitioners actually file the petition,” Zegarelli said. “I might propose a few points that we should probably discuss that correct some of the issues that the town just gave in that meeting, but that’s really for the mayor and board to decide.”
The Town of Ossining and Village of Briarcliff Manor have made their respective presentations available for the public online. Those interested in learning more about the group gathering signatures are asked to visit the group’s website.