Moderator (Massapequa): Good evening and welcome to Senator Fuschillo's online Q & A session. If you'd like to submit a question, you can do so any time during the session by filling out the box above. Please keep clicking ''refresh'' on your browser to see the most up to date questions and responses. Senator Fuschillo, are you ready to begin?
Senator Fuschillo (7:00:00 PM): Yes I am. Thank you everyone for participating in this program. We held another chat session earlier in the week and it was terrific. Looking forward to reading your questions.
Nancy Shapiro (N. Merrick): How can life on Long Island be made more affordable? Everyone says that taxes are being held in line, but as a 60 year old who works, I have less each year due to rising taxes. I have 2 of 3 adult kids that have moved off of LI due to affordability of living.
Senator Fuschillo (7:02:00 PM): We must control spending at all levels of government to reduce taxes and make Long Island more affordable. On a state level, we reduced spending, consolidated state agencies and departments, and eliminated a number of boards and commissions. We also passed two consecutive state budgets which closed multi-billion dollar deficits without raising taxes or fees. All levels of government, including local municipalities, school districts, and special districts, must also control their spending and use taxpayer dollars more efficiently.
Janis S. (Wantagh): Dear Senator Fuschillo: Even though we are in a recession it is imperative that we do not let our parks and ponds fall apart. Mill Pond on Merrick Road in Bellmore is infested with lily pads and other foilage. The county probably still has the machine that will clean up this pond and restore it to it's natural beauty. It has been cleaned before in the past. If we let the foliage continue to grow the pond will simply disappear. Please help clean up the vegetation so that future generations can enjoy this lovely pond.
Senator Fuschillo (7:04:10 PM): Janis: Nassau County is responsible for maintaining Mill Pond. We will contact Nassau County on your behalf to share your concerns with them. Please call my office at 516-882-0630 to provide us with your contact information.
Rob (Seaford): Is the Day Care Safety Search website still available? My wife and I have found it to be a very helpful resource in the past but can no longer find the website.
Senator Fuschillo (7:06:00 PM): Yes Rob, it is administered by the NYS Office of Children and Family Services. You can access it by copy and pasting this link into your browser: http://ocfs.ny.gov/main/childcare/looking.asp
Alice J. Cammiso (Merrick, New York): After some closer examination of my current school tax bill, it appears that my school tax has increased by $250, an almost 8% increase. Unless I am mistaken it appears that I was not given my senior citizen exemption of 50%. You say that you have capped property taxes at 2%. The only 2% I see on my tax bill is 2% penalty if I pay late.
Senator Fuschillo (7:09:01 PM): Alice, thank you for your question. The tax cap implemented by New York State controls spending by capping school district and local government tax levy increases, which are the total amount of taxes that the school district or municipality collects. Your school districts and local municipalities make up your property taxes, not New York State. After approving a tax levy, that school district or municipality sets a tax rate to collect the required amount of revenue. The rate is then applied to your property's assessment, which is determined by the Nassau County Department of Assessment, in order to determine your individual property taxes. Homeowners often grieve their assessment and win reductions because of Nassau County's inaccurate system, but that does not change the total amount of revenue that needs to be collected. As a result, homeowners whose assessments increase remain the same or even decrease slightly end up paying more to cover those who decrease the most. If there was no tax cap, tax levies could increase without any restriction whatsoever, leading to higher property tax bills. With regard to your senior exemption, if you call my office at 516-882-0630, we will call the Department of Assessment for you to find out if you are receiving the exemption.
Debbie Simone (Seaford NY): Neptune Avenue south of Merrick Road in Seaford is a heavily used roadway. It's the only way out of the Harbor area. The road need to be repaved, there are many bumps and pot holes along this road. Is there a chance that this will happen any time soon. Thank you very much.
Senator Fuschillo (7:10:58 PM): Debbie, the Town of Hempstead is responsible for maintaining and improving Neptune Avenue. We will contact the Town of Hempstead on your behalf to share your concerns. Please call my office at 516-882-0630 and provide us with your contact information.
Miriam Berman (Massapequa Park ): I, along with many other residents living on the south shore, are very concerned about the toxic plume from Grumman that is moving further south, potentially affecting peoples' health with possible increased cancer risks in addition to affecting the fauna and flora in local preserves and the great south bay. These plumes must be treated more aggressively and effectively than they currently are in order to deal with this very serious problem before more people get seriously sick and die. What more can your office do and what can residents do to make sure we are being kept informed about treatment options and what the most effective plans are? I have attended meetings, sent letters to Governor Cuomo and the EPA along with other residents and elected officials. What more can be done to ensure that our drinking water will not contain toxic cancer causing chemicals and that action plans are put into place immediately before more damage is done? Thank you for giving me the opportunity to voice my concerns and to bring my questions to you. I look forward to hearing back from you.
Senator Fuschillo (7:13:14 PM): I agree with you; the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) must do everything possible to protect wellheads which are used to provide drinking water to homes from being contaminated. Senators Hannon, Marcellino, and I wrote to the DEC Commissioner urging the DEC to take all necessary precautions to prevent the plume from spreading and protect the surrounding wellheads from contamination. It is good that you have shared your concerns with your representatives, but you may also wish to write directly to the DEC as well if you have not already done so. The address is Commissioner Joe Martens, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233.
Moderator (Massapequa): Wanted remind everyone that questions can be submitted questions by filling out the box above. Keep refreshing your browser to see the latest questions and answers.
Senator Fuschillo (7:15:05 PM): Thank you for the reminder. Keep the questions coming!
Phyllis Curatola (Wantagh): I need help with the star exemption process. Can I come into your office and have someone help me. I can not seem to get thru to Assessment office.
Senator Fuschillo (7:17:02 PM): Phyllis, the Department of Assessment sponsors property tax exemption workshops where you can speak one-on-one with Department of Assessment staff who will help you fill out and file your applications. Copy the link below and paste into your browser for a schedule of upcoming programs. http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/Assessor/Docs/PDF/2012ExemptionsWorkshopCalendar.pdf. If you cannot make it to any of those events, or if it is more convenient, just contact my office and we will have someone from the Department of Assessment assist you.
Janice Ritter (Merrick): What happened to lotto money helping towards school tax relief?????
Senator Fuschillo (7:19:21 PM): Janice, the lottery still provides funding for education. Long Island schools received over $302 million dollars in 2011-12 alone. Since the Lottery's inception, Long Island has received over $4.6 billion in education funding through the Lottery.
Tom dispigno (Massapequa): The Property evaluation system is broken forcing all property owners to grieve....any solutions on the drawing board??
Senator Fuschillo (7:21:11 PM): The property assessment system is handled by the Nassau County Department of Assessment. There have been some reforms made, but much more needs to be done to ensure that properties are assessed fairly and accurately. The number of grievances, over 100,000 since January 2011 according to Newsday, show that the Department of Assessment still has a long way to go.
Pat Fox (Freeport): Given the precarious state our primary education currently inhabits, what can the State Government do to provide greater support and governance to schools to ensure that taxpayers get the bang for the buck that they deserve and that the students must have?
Senator Fuschillo (7:23:57 PM): We must continue to invest in education. New York State provided over $20 billion in state education aid to school districts, an increase of over $805 million from last year. New York State spends more per pupil than any other state in the country. We must also do more to provide mandate relief to help reduce costs on school districts. That being said, school districts must also do more to improve efficiencies and reduce their costs, especially their administrative costs.
Thomas (Lindenhurst): I am continually harassed by annoying telemarketing phone calls even though I am on the Do Not Call Registry. What can I do to make it stop?
Senator Fuschillo (7:26:01 PM): If you are receiving telemarketing calls that you believe are against the law, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Be sure to note the date & time of the call, as well as the name of the organization that is calling. Copy the following link and paste it into your browser to learn more about filing a complaint: https://complaints.donotcall.gov/complaint/complaintcheck.aspx?panel=2
Elizabeth Angilette (Freeport): Where can I get help to refurbish my house. I am 67 without the income to fix-up my house. Are there any funds to help people like me? 2. Taxes are killing me. How can I get a reduction?
Senator Fuschillo (7:28:34 PM): Elizabeth, Nassau County offers a property tax exemption for eligible home improvements. Copy and paste this link into your browser for more information: http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/Assessor/Department%20Services/documents/homeimprove.pdf. As far as getting your taxes reduced, you can file a grievance with the Nassau County Assessment Review Commission if you believe your home has been overvalued by the Nassau County Department of Assessment. Copy and paste this link into your browser for more information:http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/ARC/challenge.html
Moderator (Massapequa): Questions are still welcome and can be submitted by filling out the form above. Please remember to keep refreshing your browser to see the most recent questions and responses.
Senator Fuschillo (7:30:16 PM): Thank you.
Phyllis Kraus (N. Bellmore): When is someone going to do something about the OVER SCHOOL TAXED residents of NASSAU COUNTY? More than 66% of my tax bills is for schools. Someone has to help out the residents of Nassau County, we can only work so many jobs just to make ends meet.
Senator Fuschillo (7:32:49 PM): I completely agree. A critical step is getting spending under control. You cannot control taxes without controlling spending, which is why New York State enacted the tax cap. It has helped. In the first year of the tax cap, Long Island saw the smallest average school tax levy increase in nearly 15 years. School districts must also continue to reduce costs and become more efficient, especially in the area of administrative expenses. Additional mandate relief is also needed to help school districts save taxpayer dollars.
Theresa (Amityville): My husband has been looking for a job for months. Finding one is next to impossible. What are you doing about it?
Senator Fuschillo (7:36:00 PM): We have made job creation a top priority. I authored a new law to expand the Broad Hollow Bioscience Park at Farmingdale State College, which is expected to result in more than 600 jobs and $50 million in economic impact on Long Island. New York State also created the New York Works program to create jobs through infrastructure investment. Additionally, we created the ReCharge NY program to give businesses low cost power in exchange for creating/retaining jobs and making new investments into business expansion. We also repealed the MTA payroll tax to help reduce business costs. Progress has been made but job creation must be a continuing priority. You may also wish to visit the job resource center on my website, which provides links to services for job seekers (copy and paste into your browser): http://www.nysenate.gov/report/senator-fuschillos-job-resource-center
Tim (Bellmore): As someone who commutes to New York City every day, I would like to know your thoughts on the MTA's fare increase plan. How much more do they think commuters can take?
Senator Fuschillo (7:39:14 PM): I am completely opposed to the proposed fare increases. It already costs more than enough to commute on the LIRR, especially after repeated fare increases over the last several years. The MTA needs to become more efficient; they have made progress, but much more needs to be done. Riders cannot afford higher fares.
Richard Burney (Massapequa Park ): How can you lower the property taxes in Nassau? And prevent future increases?
Senator Fuschillo (7:42:46 PM): Richard, thanks for your question. As I stated earlier, controlling spending is the key to lowering taxes and preventing further increases. Governments and school districts need to continue to become more efficient with taxpayer dollars and do more with less. The tax cap was a positive step in that direction because it is helping to control spending.
Isabella (Copiague): My friend told me there is a way to find out if you are owed money by New York State. How do I go about doing this?
Senator Fuschillo (7:45:24 PM): Isabella, the State Comptroller's Office allows you to search for unclaimed funds in your name. These are funds such as old bank accounts, uncashed checks, refunds, and dividends which have remained dormant for an extended period of time and by law get turned over to the state, which acts as a custodian until the funds can be claimed by the rightful owner. There is no fee to search or file for a claim. Copy this link and paste it into your browser to learn more about New York State Unclaimed Funds: http://www.nysenate.gov/report/unclaimed-funds-might-be-waiting-you
Moderator (Massapequa): We are getting towards the end of this session but we still have time for a few more questions. In the meantime, is there anything you would like to update us on Senator Fuschillo?
Senator Fuschillo (7:47:12 PM): We are covering a lot of important topics, but I do want to quickly mention that this Saturday I will be partnering with the Wantagh & Massapequa Fire Departments in offering a free citizen CPR course where residents can come learn basic CPR. The courses will be held at the Wantagh Fire Department Headquarters (3470 Park Avenue, Wantagh) from 10-11 am and at the Massapequa Fire Station (515 Hicksville Road) from 10-1 am and 11 am- 12 pm. It is open to everyone; there are no age or prerequisite requirements. Call my office at 516-882-0630 to register. Now back to some more questions.
Beatrice Balzano (Copiague): Help for homeowners is not available. Went through all the government channels basically to be told if the banks are not required to help. So with all the advertisements of helping homeowners, where is the real help?
Senator Fuschillo (7:50:33 PM): If you are referring to help to prevent foreclosure, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) has a foreclosure assistance program which provides individualized counseling to homeowners facing foreclosure. Residents can call DFS' foreclosure relief hotline at 1-800-269-0990. My office has also partnered with DFS in sponsoring free foreclosure prevention programs in a number of communities to help homeowners facing foreclosure. We will continue to sponsor these programs to get families the help they need.
Ray (Roosevelt): I was unable to attend the Free Legal Services program you sponsored near the Post Office yesterday, where can I go to get help?
Senator Fuschillo (7:53:19 PM): For those who do not know, the program Ray is referring to is sponsored in partnership with the New York Legal Assistance Group and the New York State Office of Court Administration. It offers free legal counseling to individuals on issues such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and Social Security Disability. I, along with Supervisor Murray, arranged for the Mobile Legal Help Center to come to Roosevelt yesterday. You can call the New York Legal Assistance Group at 212-613-5000.
jon harris (bellmore): What have you done to fight for commuters that take the LIRR ?
Senator Fuschillo (7:57:14 PM): As I stated earlier, I completely oppose the MTA's fare increase proposal, because commuters already pay more than enough to ride the LIRR. I also sponsored legislation to fully restore the state pre-tax mass transit benefit for commuters. Commuters saw both their federal and state benefits, which are designed to help offset mass transit costs, cut in half when Congress failed to authorize an extension last December. While New York State cannot restore the federal benefit, it can restore the state benefit. Under my legislation, commuters would be able to exempt up to $240 a month from state income tax to cover mass-transit commuting expenses for 2012. The Senate approved the legislation in February. The Assembly did not act. We must continue the fight to restore this benefit and provide tax relief that commuters desperately need and deserve.
Alexandria Couillard (Massapequa): I am living in my home for a number of years and have seen the high schoolers going to and from summer school. This summer the high school was empty. Has summer school been cancelled?
Senator Fuschillo (7:58:30 PM): Alexandria, you can call Massapequa High School at 516-308-5900 and they will be able to tell you about any changes to their summer school policy.
Moderator (Massapequa): Unfortuantely we are out of time. Senator Fuschillo, do you have anything else you would like to say before we conlcude?
Senator Fuschillo (7:59:47 PM): Thank you to everyone who participated and submitted questions. I apologize if I could not get to your question but after we finish this session I will be going over the ones I was unable to address. Thank you again for participating. Have a great night.