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Friday
Mar152019

Who Is Going To Pay? Comptroller Kennedy Says Homeowners

Who is going to be taxed for the nitrogen-reducing septic systems installed under Suffolk County’s grant program? County Comptroller John Kennedy believes homeowners are liable. The comptroller issued tax forms to homeowners who participated in the county’s grant program and installed nitrogen-reducing septic systems. If the comptroller’s position is correct the homeowners could face a tax liability in the thousands of dollars.  The Bellone administration is asking the comptroller to rescind the tax notices immediately. Kennedy, in a Newsday article said he is seeking an opinion from the IRS.

The County Septic Improvement Program is the first of its kind in New York State.  Suffolk County grants are provided to homeowners who choose to replace their cesspool or septic system with new nitrogen reducing septic systems. The program, established in 2017, was approved by voters in a 2014 referendum.

The county’s program, supported by Governor Cuomo, was awarded nearly 70 percent of the $15 million awarded statewide under the first year of the State’s Septic System Replacement Fund. Bellone’s statement claims that the “Comptroller’s Action Would Jeopardize Cuomo Administration’s $10 Million Award to Fund County Drinking Water Program”.

Yesterday, Water Quality Czar Peter A. Scully requested the tax forms sent to homeowners be rescinded saying, “Suffolk County taxpayers are already facing a difficult income tax season as a result of Washington’s federal tax code changes that limit deductions of local property taxes. The last thing they need is for the County Comptroller’s actions to expose them to additional tax liability.”

The statement issued by Mr. Scully states, “In early 2018, the County Comptroller’s office sent the 1099 forms for individual system installations to both homeowners, designers and installers, for the same installations. In early 2019, the Comptroller’s office sent 1099s for installations completed in 2018 to homeowners only, and sent “corrected” forms for 2017 to companies which had received disbursements of funds from the County, stating that they hadn’t received any. In an article in today’s Newsday, the Comptroller indicated for the first time that he plans to seek a letter ruling from the IRS on the issue.”

A full copy of the letter can be found below:

Dear Comptroller Kennedy,

As Suffolk’s Water Quality Czar, I write now with a sense of urgency in an effort to limit any further impacts to Suffolk County taxpayers resulting from the unilateral decision of your office to issue 1099 forms which could make grants under the Septic Improvement Program taxable for homeowners.

As you are aware, the program was carefully designed to make the grant process easy and affordable for homeowners. One important aspect of that effort was structuring the program to ensure that homeowners never receive disbursements of funds. Instead, grant funds are disbursed to companies which install nitrogen reducing septic systems, so that IRS reporting requirements should be met through the issuance of 1099-MISC forms to those companies, and not to homeowners. That aspect of the program was made clear at its inception, and all involved companies submitted required W-9 forms expecting to receive the 1099-MISC forms as planned.

In January 2018, however, without prior discussion, and without explanation, your office demanded that the Department of Health Services obtain a W-9 form from a homeowner who had participated in the program. Staff in the Department of Health Services subsequently learned that your office had issued 1099s for the 2017 tax year to both installers and homeowners for the same system installs. The reason why this double reporting occurred has not been explained.

In the wake of that action by your office, the County sought and obtained a legal opinion on the tax reporting issue from its tax counsel, which concluded and advised that 1099 G forms should not be issued to homeowners, and that 1099-MISC forms should be issued to companies receiving funds under the program, consistent with established program guidelines.

Over the past several weeks, the Department of Health Services has been made aware that your office had directed staff to issue 1099 G forms to individual homeowners who completed installations during the 2018 tax year, exposing those homeowners to potential tax liabilities. More recently, you have been quoted in the media as having indicated that you plan to request a letter ruling from the IRS on the matter.

Assuming that this report is accurate, it makes no sense to threaten homeowners with tax liability unless and until the IRS has indicated that issuing 1099s to homeowners is appropriate. For that reason, the purpose of this letter is to formally request that your office rescind the 1099s issued to homeowners pending receipt of the letter ruling you have indicated that you will seek from the IRS.

Given that the April 15, 2019 deadline for filing of 2018 income taxes is looming for Suffolk County taxpayers, who are already reeling from the impacts that changes to the federal tax code limiting deductions of property taxes are having on their personal finances, I would ask that your office take immediate steps to rescind the 1099s issued to homeowners, and to advise homeowners that such action is being taken.

Please confirm that such action will be taken on a priority basis. A careful and deliberate approach to the issue is important given the potential implications for the statewide $75 million New York State Septic System Replacement Program established by the State under the leadership of Governor Cuomo.

I look forward to working with you to ensure that Suffolk County taxpayers are protected against additional tax liability.

Respectfully,

PETER A. SCULLY

Deputy County Executive


Sunday
Mar102019

Forest Brook Elementary Students Honor WWII Veteran's Voices

 

On Wednesday, March 6th Hauppauge School District’s Forest Brook Elementary hosted Veteran’s Voices, an intergenerational program that brings students and veterans together. Florida HS student Benjamin Mack-Jackson founder of the WWII Veterans History Project did a presentation for the students.

Now in its second year, the Forest Brook Veterans Voices program was developed by school nurse Deborah Wissmann, RN., “The idea for Veteran’s Voices stemmed from a project my son had done in 6th grade. His class had to videotape an interview with someone who was a hero to them.  My son chose his grandfather, my father. A few years later when my father passed away, this became a cherished keepsake.  In college my son formed a club called “Heard at Geneseo.” They  recorded the history of residents living in the town for decades.   These ideas, along with Principal Kristen Reingold’s dedication to honor Veterans became “Veterans’ Voices.”

Programs like this need a lot of support. School board member Gary Fortmeyer attended the assembly which was funded by a grant from the Hauppauge Educational Foundation (HEF). 

The March 6th event was the culmination of fifteen weeks of work. 4th and 5th grade students interviewed, recorded and photographed their interviews with veterans. The students then created keepsake books for each of the people they interviewed.

Principal Reingold and Medha RaoThe students and veterans speak with pride about how much they enjoyed interacting with each other. Medha Rao a 4th grader shared her experience with Smithtown Matters. “I talked to two veterans Dennis and Michael who were very funny to talk to. Michael is a WWII who liked school a lot and said he was born under a desk he was a principal for a high school, middle school and elementary school.  Dennis was funny, he told stories that were easy to understand.”


Benjamin Mack-Jackson

Medha who thinks she might become a journalist and an author said she doesn’t want to join the military because there is a lot of violence. “But I like learning about it. I think students should join Veterans Voices next year because it is a good way to learn about the veterans.” 

Ms. Wissman and Principal Reingold acknowledged the many benefits of the program including the significance of carrying on the tradition of oral history, communication with a different age group, developing and asking appropriate questions. But, it is not only students who benefit from the interactions the veterans who traveled from the Arbors Assisted Living facility were beaming as they posed for pictures with the students and looked through their keepsake books.  

Benjamin Mack-Jackson’s presentation was all about respecting, honoring and giving back to veterans. He is a 16-year-old Florida resident who developed a fasination with WWII. At the age of 13 he began researching WWII and realized he wanted to learn more and began interviewing veterans. He now travels throughout the U.S. with his museum in a box which contains WWII artifacts. His stated goal is to help educate his generation as well as future generations the importance of WWII and the people who served during the war. 

Ben explained, in age appropriate language, how many countries fought in the war, the significance of newspapers for communication,  the difference between the beginning of WWII and the date the U. S. entered the war. He discussed D-Day when 5,000 plus Americans lost their lives and the meaning of V-E day and V-J day. 

The students then donned gloves and began to examine the artifacts. Kudos to Forest Brook.

 

Thursday
Mar072019

County Executive Candidate Kennedy Calls Out MTA For Rate Hikes

Suffolk County Executive Candidate John M. Kennedy Blasts MTA for “Robbing” Long Islanders by Imposing Fare Hikes

John M. Kennedy, Candidate for Suffolk County Executive, said the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) needs to find a better way to straighten out its finances other than raising rates on Long Island commuters. He says rate hikes have been the easy solution for the MTA for far too long and are emptying Long Islanders’ pockets.

The MTA board recently voted to raise prices on monthly and weekly tickets for the Long Island Rail Road, but capped the increase at 3.85%. That means the price of a monthly ticket will go up by a maximum of $15 and a weekly ticket will cost, at the most, $5.75 more. LIRR riders who own monthly MetroCards will pay $6 more, totaling $127 a month. Another fare hike is scheduled for 2021.

“Long Island commuters are getting robbed because of the MTA’s wasteful spending and sloppy bookkeeping,” Mr. Kennedy said. “Instead of dumping the additional costs on the backs of hardworking Long Islanders, they should look from within and cut some of the fat from the budget; maybe then, they won’t have to worry about billion-dollar deficits.”

Saturday
Feb162019

Kings Park History - Howard Orphanage And Industrial School 1911-1918 

Article is written for the Leo P. Ostebo Kings Park Heritage Museum 99 Old Dock Road Kings Park, NY 11754.
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From 1911-1918 the Howard Orphanage and Industrial School mortgaged farmland from the Jewish Industrial Aid Society, also known as Indian Head Stock Farm in Kings Park, NY located on Indian Head Road.  The school would teach African American orphaned children life skills, such as, reading, writing, sewing, cooking, woodcarving and more. 
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From 1911-1912 Mary Eliza Mahoney, was the director. She was the first African American Professional Nurse, a Boston Suffragette, as well as, one of the first women in Boston to vote after the passing of the 19th Amendment. 
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By 1912, the school was looked at as the Tuskegee of the North.  Through the years, there was fundraising to keep the orphanage going. Unfortunately, due to a lack of funding, during the winter of 1918 pipes at the school froze and many children suffered from the affects.
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To learn more about historic Kings Park, call 631-269-3305 for an appointment to visit the Leo P. Ostebo Kings Park Heritage Museum or goto www.KPHeritageMuseum.net.
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Article is written for the Leo P. Ostebo Kings Park Heritage Museum 99 Old Dock Road Kings Park, NY 11754.
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Wednesday
Feb132019

NYS Police Investigating Hate Crime At Nissequogue River State Park

 


The New York State Police Troop L BCI, with the assistance of the State Police Hate Crimes Unit, are investigating the discovery of a swastika along the bike path at the Nissequogue River State Park in Kings Park, Suffolk County. Governor Cuomo directed the State Police to investigate the vandalism, which was discovered on Sunday, February 10.

Senator John Flanagan issued the following statement:

Over the weekend, hate-filled anti-Semitic graffiti was discovered in the Nissequogue River State Park.  The message is deeply troubling to those who live in the Kings Park community and all who continue the fight against hatred.  I want to make it clear that all elected officials and community leaders are united in saying that hateful symbols must never be tolerated and those responsible must and will be held accountable for their actions.

While some may try to divide us, this nation was built to protect and respect our differences and we will stand stronger together in the face of those who look to divide us.  We must use this as another opportunity to become stronger.

Everyone has the right to live free of fear and oppression and those who feel otherwise have no place in our community.  That stands truer today than it ever has and those who test our resolve on this will find that they are the ones who are not welcome.”

 

State Police is asking anyone who may have any information about the vandalism to contact investigators at 631-756-3300.