Tag Archive | "Jr."

State Legislature Approves Property Tax Exemptions for Green Building

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This week, the New York State Legislature approved a law authored by local Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. that would provide a tax incentive to builders and homeowners constructing energy efficient green buildings.

Thiele said the “Energy Conservation Bill” is his most significant environmental legislation since the Community Preservation Fund was created for the five East End towns in 1999.

The bill passed in the Assembly and the State Senate unanimously.

The law, which must be ratified by Governor Andrew Cuomo, gives local governments or school districts the right to provide property tax exemptions —through a local law, ordinance or resolution — for construction or improvements made after January 1, 2013 that meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standards for green buildings. This includes commercial or residential development.

In addition to LEED certification, the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes rating system, the American National Standards Institute, or other substantially equivalent standards for certification using a similar program for green buildings as determined by the municipal corporation would also be eligible for the exemption.

According to the legislation, eligible parties could receive a 100-percent property tax exemption if they meet Silver, Gold or Platinum LEED status for at least three years. After that the level of exemption — except for Platinum LEED status, declines by 20-percent each successive year. Those who achieve Platinum LEED status — the most difficult level to achieve — would be eligible for a 100-percent exemption for a total of six years.

To be eligible for the tax exemption, the construction must exceed $10,000, be certified as a green building, and be the subject of a valid building permit. Ordinary maintenance and repairs are not eligible for the exemption. The local assessor must approve the exemption.

“Under Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York has become pro-active in promoting efforts to reduce energy demands and greenhouse gas emissions by promoting energy efficiency in homes and businesses throughout the state,” said Thiele. “Significant measures have already been enacted in an effort to accomplish this goal such as on-bill financing, solar feed-in tariffs, and net metering. This legislation, my most significant environmental bill since the creation of the Community Preservation Fund (CPF), would provide another major incentive to promote energy efficiency and conservation. Not only will this legislation reduce energy demand, it will promote economic development by encouraging new construction that meets green building standards.”

“This bill will make a real difference in encouraging green construction for both homes and businesses,” he added. “It is imperative that we promote energy efficiency in our communities with whatever tools are at our disposal. These incentives will encourage the use of the highest level of energy design in new construction. We can reduce our costs and our reliance on expensive energy by reducing demand in the first place.”

The legislation was delivered to Governor Cuomo on July 6. He has until next Monday to ratify the law.

State Tax Credits for Historic Preservation to be Expanded

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In a move New York State Assemblyman and Sag Harbor resident Fred W. Thiele, Jr. said was aimed at promoting preservation on the East End while also encouraging job growth, last week the Assembly passed legislation that will increase the maximum award available under the historic preservation tax code from $5 million to $12 million.

According to Thiele, the bill, which he sponsored, is expected to become law.

“Increasing the tax credit for builders and developers who want to do business on the East End may give them the added incentive they need to move forward on these projects and create jobs,” said Thiele in a press release issued last week. “The Assembly’s legislation opens up a bigger market for developers and investors and is another sign that New York is open for business. Additionally, the enhanced tax credit will preserve historic buildings, reduce blight and get more East End residents working.”
According to Thiele, prior to this legislation, the historic preservation tax credit was capped at $5 million per project and has been used by developers across the state to renovate and restore buildings that suffer from long-time neglect. Increasing the tax credit to $12 million creates a greater incentive for developers, said Thiele, and will make it more desirable to restore large, historic projects that may be financially cost prohibitive otherwise.

State to Get Tough on Bullies

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The New York State Assembly has passed a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele aimed at cracking down on bullying and cyber-bullying in public schools, according to a press release issued on Tuesday.

Expanding on the Dignity for All Students Act, the legislation will establish a mandatory reporting system for all incidents of bullying and provide training for school staff.

According to Thiele, the legislation is expected to be passed by the state Senate and signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“In today’s age of 24-hour connectivity and social networking, there is no escape for students who are subjected to cyber-bullying,” said Thiele. “Bullying that begins in school can follow them home and contribute to low self esteem, academic problems, delinquent behavior, and, tragically, violence and suicide. These new guidelines for combatting cyber-bullying will ensure a safe and secure learning environment for all our students both in and out of school.”

Under the legislation, all school staff will be required to report any incident of bullying or cyber-bullying to the principal or superintendent within one school day of the occurrence and submit a written report of the incident within three school days. Parents and students will also be able to submit reports and school administrations will be required to investigate every incident.

Schools will also be required to establish official guidelines for age-appropriate responses to harassment, bullying or discrimination, with detailed remedies and procedures.

The legislation also includes guidelines for teacher and staff training programs. All students and staff from kindergarten through 12th grade will have to attend bullying education classes and receive Internet instruction, added Thiele.

According to Thiele, in New York State nearly 16-percent of all students and nearly 21-percent of girls are subject to cyber-bullying through email, chat rooms, instant messaging, social network sites and through texting and other electronic devices each year.

“This legislation is a major step in the Assembly’s ongoing efforts to improve education and promote a safe and secure learning environment,” said Thiele. “No child should have to fear continued harassment and embarrassment from cyber-bullying. This legislation ensures parents, students and staff all have the tools they need to combat this serious issue.”

Bay Scallop Restoration Program to Expand

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Working with the State of New York through funding provided by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) announced last week it will expand the Peconic Bay Scallop Restoration Project in Suffolk County.

CCE has signed a contract with the state and will move forward with the first stages of the $182,900 award it received as a part of the Governor’s Regional Council initiative — a challenge issued to regions throughout the state to pitch economic development concepts with the potential to earn funding based on merit.

The Peconic Bay Scallop Restoration Project focuses on restoring the bay scallop population on Long Island in an effort to protect the eco-system and generate marine-related economic activity.

“Suffolk County’s marine-based businesses are vital to the overall health of our regional economy,” said Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association and Regional Council co-chair. “I applaud the efforts of the CCE and its partners to revive the bay scallop population as it will help both the environment and Long Islanders wallets. The partnership between the Council and CCE will allow us to grow our economy now while ensuring one of the area’s traditional industries not only survives, but flourishes once again.”

In 2005 Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Marine Program and Long Island University partnered with Suffolk County to create the largest scallop spawner sanctuary to restore the famous Peconic Bay Scallop. According to a press release issued last week, CCE will use the regional council funding to increase seed production, collection and planting and educate shellfish companies with field demonstrations on how to successfully grow bay scallops. Working on developing a marketing event is also planned.

“Thanks to the support of the Long Island Regional Economic Council and the Empire State Development Corp, CCE of Suffolk can continue to play a vital role in sustaining this heritage industry,” said Vito Minei, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County.

New York State Assembly Passes Bill to Ease Tax Filing Burden on Small Farms and Wineries

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A law proposed by New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. to exempt farm wineries and craft breweries from what he terms “a burdensome tax filing requirement” was unanimously passed by the Assembly this week.

Under the current law, all beer, wine and liquor wholesalers are required to report sales made to restaurants, bars and other retailers to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. Farm wineries and craft breweries were included in the definition of a wholesaler who had to comply with this law. Thiele’s legislation, which Governor Andrew Cuomo made part of his 2012 legislative program, exempts farm wineries and craft breweries from complying with the law, which Thiele said was a costly process and a burdensome paperwork requirement.

This week, Thiele said the restrictions already placed on farm wineries and craft breweries — farm wineries cannot produce more than 150,000 gallons annually, craft breweries are restricted to 35,000 gallons each year — it is difficult for them to afford this requirement. He added that farm wineries and craft breweries will still be required to maintain sales records through requirements imposed on them by the State Liquor Authority (SLA) and that the Department of Taxation and Finance can request those records.

“Farm wineries and craft breweries are small and mostly family operations that have struggled to comply with this needless filing requirement,” said Thiele. “The burden and cost on business far outweighs any benefit to the state. There are other ways that the State Tax Department can obtain this information. In particular, this legislation will benefit the farm winery operations on the East End. Our wineries can better use their time to grow their businesses and promote their product, rather than filling out costly paperwork.”

The legislation was supported by the Long Island Farm Bureau and is currently in the State Senate Finance Committee where it awaits further action.

Thiele Votes for Minimum Wage Increase

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Last week, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. supported the New York State Assembly in the passage of legislation that would increase minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour beginning in January 2013. The law also increases minimum wage for food-service workers who receive tips from $5 to $5.86 per hour. Both wage rates would then be indexed with inflation beginning in January 2014, said Thiele.

The bill now awaits action by the State Senate.

“During this difficult economic time, raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do,” said Thiele in a press release issued on Thursday, May 14. “Simply put, people who work full time shouldn’t be poor. The Assembly’s legislation would help make sure that New Yorkers living on minimum wage salaries can actually survive on the minimum wage. I strongly urge the Senate to pass this crucial measure.”

Thiele said that according to a recent Quinnipiac Poll, 78-percent of New Yorkers support raising minimum wage, with 52-percent supporting a higher increase than the rate the Assembly has adopted.

“Over the past five years, New York’s minimum wage has only increased $0.10 cents per hour, which is not enough for East End families to pay for things like rent, heat, gas, food and prescription drugs,” said Thiele. “By increasing the minimum wage, the quality of life for more than 1 million New Yorkers will be improved.”

Currently, the neighboring states of Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts — as well as 15 other states across the country and the District of Columbia — all have higher minimum wages than New York.

Thiele Opposes Casino Legalization in New York

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Last week, the New York State Assembly passed a state constitutional amendment that opens the door to the establishment of seven new casinos in New York.

Currently, New York State only allows gambling at Native American-run facilities, although companies are allowed to have video gaming at racetracks in Yonkers and Queens. This change in the state constitution would allow companies to operate seven public casinos in New York, although the state can only legalize casinos if two elected state legislatures adopt this amendment. This is the first time the legislature has voted on the amendment meaning a second vote will be held next year before casinos are legal in New York.

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., opposed the change in law. He noted the assembly passed this amendment with almost no information in terms of where the seven casinos would be situated, what rules they will follow or whether or not a municipality will be able to enact its own legislation to prevent a casino from being built in its community.

“That was one of the principal reasons I voted against this,” said Thiele on Monday. “There are no standards on where it is permitted, no geographic standards and no provisions for home rule. It is completely open ended.”

According to Thiele, Governor Andrew Cuomo — who has championed this change in the state Constitution as being one that could boost the economy and keep gaming money currently the state in New York — has promised details will be revealed before the next vote, but that is not good enough for the veteran assemblyman.

“We don’t know how this will shake out based on what is out there now,” he said. “Right now, I feel the East End is exposed to potentially being the home of a gaming facility.”

As there are so little details, Thiele said it was unclear if local zoning could even be enacted to prevent a casino on the East End.

Lastly, Thiele said he believes the change in law will undercut the Shinnecock Indian Nation’s efforts to open their own casino somewhere in western Suffolk or Nassau County, allowing private operators with more financial support the opportunity to jump ahead of the Shinnecock Nation in running a casino.

Southold Removed from Thiele’s Revised Assembly District

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Responding to complaints, primarily from North Fork residents, New York State’s committee in charge of creating new electoral districts has changed its plan for the Twin Forks, leaving Southold in what will now be known as the Second Assembly District.

On Monday, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. released a statement saying he had learned of the change and was supportive of the new maps. The new redistricting plan being considered by the New York State Legislature would make Thiele’s district the new First Assembly District. His current district, encompassing East Hampton, Southampton and as well as a portion of Brookhaven is the Second Assembly District and includes 142,833 residents.

An original proposal suggested by the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment would have changed Thiele’s district to the First Assembly District, losing the Mastics and Shirley while picking up Shelter Island and Southold. However, residents of Southold and government leaders – including Thiele – balked at the idea of Southold joining that district and called for reform.

Pursuant to the 2010 census, each Assembly district in New York State should have no more than 129,089 residents, making Thiele’s current district 13,744 over the average. The new First Assembly District will have 128,932 residents within its borders, or 157 less than the average and will not include the Town of Southold.

Under the revised proposal, the Town of Southold will remain in what will become the Second Assembly District – if approved by the legislature. That district will also include northeast Brookhaven and Riverhead. Shelter Island will remain in Thiele’s district, but his section of Brookhaven will be reduced by about 16,000 residents, according to Thiele’s office.

“I look forward to representing the new First Assembly District,” said Thiele in a statement on Monday afternoon. “Ninety-eight percent of the district includes areas I already represent. Shelter Island, which will be added to my district, was part of my county legislative district in the late 1980s. I have continued to work with Shelter Island on many regional issues and look forward to representing them again. Further, I am pleased that the redistricting task force listened to public opinion and kept Southold in the current district with northeast Brookhaven and Riverhead, as I had requested.

Thiele added he would like to see any further redistricting plans taken on by an independent commission not made up with members of the state legislature to ensure politics do not enter the equation when re-drawing electoral boundary lines.

Thiele Calls for Revisions to Redistricting Plan

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A New York State Legislature task force recently released redistricting recommendations that would join the East End under one legislative district – much to the ire of many North Fork politicians. Last week, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. said he believes the North Fork and the South Fork should have separate representation and the task force should go back to the drawing table.

On Wednesday, February 15 Thiele announced he has requested the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment revise its redistricting plan for the East End to establish a Brookhaven/North Fork District that would include northeast Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southold. Thiele’s current district — the Second Assembly District — would encompass East Hampton, Southampton, Shelter Island and southeast Brookhaven.

In January, the task force released redistricting plans that would add one Assembly district to Long Island based on population increases, as laid out in the state’s Constitution.

Thiele, who has been critical that the New York State Legislature completed a redistricting proposal rather than have an independent party make recommendations, said last week he would support a redistricting plan that was truly independent and non-partisan. Thiele has already sponsored legislation in an effort to ensure the legislature would have to adhere to that standard in the future.

“I am disappointed that this year’s process was not independent,” said Thiele. “We must adopt a constitutional amendment that will insure that all future redistricting plans are prepared by an independent, non-partisan commission.”

Thiele said that while the Task Force proposal for the East End met non-partisan criteria such as equal population, contiguity, and not dividing political subdivisions, it was clear from public hearings and comments there was strong sentiment in Southold that the community should be part of the Brookhaven/North Fork District.

“I have enjoyed working with Southold Town government through the years including the Peconic Bay Estuary Program, the CommunityPreservation Fund, Five Town Rural Transit, Peconic County, the East End

Supervisors and Mayors Association, and the repeal of the MTA payroll tax and the saltwater fishing license,” said Thiele. “I would enthusiastically represent them in Albany. However, the state should not compound its failure to utilize an independent, non-partisan redistricting process by ignoring home rule. The final plan must accurately reflect the will of the public. The most important function of any elected official is to listen. Therefore, I have urged the Task Force to modify the plan.”

A final plan is expected to be approved in the next few weeks and will be in effect for the 2012 election

2011 CPF Revenues Down for Most Towns

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This week, New York State Assembly Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced that the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund (CPF) totals for 2011 were on par with revenues collected by the five towns in 2010.

According to Thiele, the CPF produced $58.85 million in 2011, a 0.1 percent increase over the 2010 total of $58.78 million. While total CPF revenues were slightly higher in 2011, the five East End towns with the exception of Southampton have actually seen a decline in the amount of revenues they have collected through the fund.

Southampton Town earned about 15-percent more in 2011, pulling in $38.88 million in CPF revenues over $33.79 million in 2010.

Shelter Island saw the largest decrease in CPF revenues, down 39.7 percent for 2011, collecting $820,000. East Hampton Town also saw a sharp decrease, taking in $13.86 million in 2011 compared to $17.72 million in 2010, a 21.8-percent decrease. Riverhead collected $1.93 million in 2011, a decrease of 15.7-percent over the $2.29 million the town earned in 2010. Southold also saw a decrease of 7.5-percent, taking $3.35 million in 2011 compared to $3.62 million in 2010.

Since its inception in 1999, the Peconic Bay Regional Community Preservation Fund has generated more than $722 million, which the five East End towns use for preservation of open space, farmland, recreational facilities and historic preservation.