Moderator (Massapequa): Good morning 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 (10:00:00 AM): Yes. Thanks to everyone who is participating. I am looking forward to your questions.
Barbara Daughn (Massapequa): I received my tax bill & would like to know why my school taxes are going up approx. $500.oo per year when supposedly it was capped!
Senator Fuschillo (10:01:34 AM): Thanks for your question Barbara. It is important to remember that New York State does not set your property taxes; that is done by your school district, county, and town. 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. That school district or municipality then 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. Without the tax cap, there would be no restriction on how much tax levies could increase, leading to higher property tax bills. Nassau County must do a better job in reforming the assessment system and getting it under control.
Jim Costello (Bellmore ): What do you think of the proposed fare increases by the MTA over the next few years?
Senator Fuschillo (10:03:10 AM): I am completely opposed to the proposed fare increases. Riders already pay more than enough to ride the LIRR and have been subjected to four fare increases in the last five years. While the MTA has made progress in improving efficiencies, there is still much more that must be done, before subjecting riders to another fare hike.
narayan mosaphir (baldwin): With school closures the claim is that there is still a deficit in the school budget in Baldwin how can that be?I can no longer afford to pay the tax increases over the last few years alone my taxes has risen from ten thousand to fifteen thousand when will the waste in the school system be addressed?Also why is one of the closed schools not considered as a location for the 1st precinct?
Senator Fuschillo (10:05:00 AM): The elected Board of Education is ultimately responsible for managing the school district's finances. As your elected school board, they are responsible for answering to you about the district's finances and the actions they have taken to address them. I encourage you to attend your local school board meeting and share your concerns with the board members these questions.
Joe Ruffino (Merrick, NY): Whatever happened to the checks rebates for Real Estate Taxes.
Senator Fuschillo (10:06:58 AM): Joe, if you are referring to the STAR Rebate Checks, they were eliminated several years ago, a move which I strongly opposed. This year, the Senate passed legislation to reinstate the STAR Rebate program to help deliver needed tax relief for Long Island families. The Assembly did not act on the legislation. Restoring this program remains an important priority of mine.
Steve Yandrich (Farmingdale): Can anything be done to stop the car tailgating that happens not just on our highways, but even when driving through our local streets? It's getting very difficult to drive at the local posted speed limit when someone is inches from the rear of your car and bearing down on you.
Senator Fuschillo (10:08:24 AM): Tailgating is illegal, and it's up to the police to enforce incidents of unsafe driving. If there is a particular area where this seems to occur constantly, please call my office and we will contact the police department to ask for increased enforcement.
Kerri (Seaford): In the recent past I have found the Day Care Safety Search website to be an excellent and helpful resource, however, it seems the website is no longer available. Is it still possible to access that information online?
Senator Fuschillo (10:10:11 AM): Yes Kerri, it is still possible to access that information online. The NYS Office of Children and Family Services offers a free day care facility search tool. You can access it here: http://ocfs.ny.gov/main/childcare/looking.asp
sal aidone (west babylon): Why doesn't N Y start drilling for natural gas. We can turn around the economy regardless of what Washington does! Fracking is used oin many other places, even in the US! It works and makes jobs and money!
Senator Fuschillo (10:11:59 AM): Both the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Health Department are undertaking a comprehensive study as to what impact hydrofracking will have on the State. Once these studies have been completed, the State will review the results and make a decision with regard to hydrofracking.
kathy (Wantagh): As you are aware taxes have gotten completely out of control in NY. I would like to know what, if anything is being done at the state level to consolidate government, reduce spending, and hold the line on taxes. The 2% school tax cap has been proven ineffective at controlling taxes, as my Mothers taxes have increased by 11% which is forcing her out of her home!
Senator Fuschillo (10:13:34 AM): Over the last two years, New York State has closed a $13 billion budget deficit by consolidating government, cutting spending, and doing more with less. We have reduced state operations expenditures, consolidated agencies and departments, and eliminated unnecessary boards and commissions. The Senate also passed a cap on state spending. I agree with you that raising taxes and fees is completely unacceptable. As I stated earlier, homeowners' individual property taxes are based on their property assessment as determined by Nassau County.
Moderator (Massapequa): Just want to remind everyone that you can submit questions by filling out the box above. Keep refreshing your browser to see the latest questions and answers.
Senator Fuschillo (10:15:00 AM): Thanks for the reminder. Let's take some more questions!
STEPHEN MELLEY (NORTH MERRICK): THANKS YOU FOR ALL YOU DO. I HAVE SIGNED UP FOR THE ''DO NOT CALL'' YET I CONTINUE TO GET ANNOYING CALLS MOST ESPECIALLY FROM SOMEONE AT ''CARD SERVICES'' ASKING ME TO HAVE MY CREDIT CARD INTEREST CHARGES CONTROLLED. I HAVE ASKED THEM TO STOP CALLING BUT THEY CONTINUE ALL THE TIME. THEY CALL FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. HOW CAN THIS BE STOPPED. I JUST RECENTLY RESUBMITTED MY DO NOT CALL REQUEST. PLEASE HELP STOP THIS ANNOYING INVASION OF PRIVACY. THANK YOU
Senator Fuschillo (10:16:33 AM): Stephen, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against companies who you believe are violating the Do Not Call law. Here is a link to the complaint form which you can copy and paste into your browser: https://complaints.donotcall.gov/complaint/complaintcheck.aspx?panel=2
Deborah Puglisi (Masssapequa): Hello Senator, I just can't help but feel the impending doom after learning how serious the Grumman toxic water plume is to our community and to our precious South Bay. It is clear that Govenor Cuomo is not taking it seriously, can you help us protect our natural resources!? Warm Regards, Deborah
Senator Fuschillo (10:18:31 AM): I, along with Senator Hannon and Senator Marcellino, contacted the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation urging them to take all necessary precautions to protect the surrounding wellheads used by the water districts to provide water to homes. DEC must do everything possible to prevent the Grumman plume from spreading and contaminating wellheads.
Susan C Giordano (Bellmore): Why are we still paying for our water? And why is it at such a high price?
Senator Fuschillo (10:20:28 AM): American Water (formerly Aqua Water), which covers Bellmore, Merrick, Wantagh, Seaford, and parts of Massapequa is a private company, not a municipal water district like many other communities have. As an American Water customer myself, I agree with you that the bills are extremely high. The Towns of Hempstead and Oyster Bay have convened the Water Authority of Southeastern Nassau County, which is currently exploring the potential of a public takeover of American Water.
Michael Gillman (Seaford): Why have NOTHING been done about the horrific PRICE GOUGING to which people without Medical Insurance are subjected if they dare to seek any form of MEDICAL care with insurance and pay for it? PS. The local authorities have moved the ''Handicapped'' parking 30 yards beyond my reach at my local polling place...so I am not allowed to vote again this year...Does anyone give a hoot??
Senator Fuschillo (10:23:02 AM): Michael, the state has a number of programs to help people without medical insurance get the care they need. You may qualify for the HealthyNY program. You can find more information about the program here (copy the link and paste into your browser): http://www.dfs.ny.gov/healthyny/hny_elig_ind.htm . With regard to not being able to vote because of a medical condition, you can apply for an absentee ballot. Copy this link and paste into your browser to find out more information and print of a request form: http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/BOE/vote.html
Donna (Merrick): A follow up to the storm of last August, how can we find out how LIPA repairs electrical outages in my area which occur quite frequently even in nice weather?
Senator Fuschillo (10:24:45 AM): Donna, if you call my office with your address, we will call LIPA on your behalf and see what is being done about the issue.
Henry Teja (Massapequa Park): All phone usage in vechiles, conversation or texting, is rapidly becomming a leading cause of traffic accidents, tarffic injuries & deaths over taking DWI & DUI, with all our technology why can't auto manufacturers develop a system to jam all phone useage (cell or car phone or other electronic devices) as soon as the vehicle disengage the transmission from park? In order to use a cell phone or other communication device they must pull off to the side of the road thereby increasing road & driving safety.
Senator Fuschillo (10:27:30 AM): Henry, I agree with you. On the way here to my office, I saw a number people texting and driving. It's extraordinarily dangerous; taking your eyes off the road for the time it takes to write, read, or send a normal text message is the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field at 55 mph blindfolded. We strengthened the state's distracted driving laws to increase the penalties and make it easier for police to enforce the law. The result has been a significant increase in the number of tickets that have been given out. I also held a public hearing in Albany earlier this year examining what more can be done to prevent distracted driving. It's an issue we're going to need to once again focus on in the next legislative session.
Moderator (Massapequa): Questions are still welcome, and you can submit them by filling out the form above. Please remember to keep refreshing your browser to see the most recent questions and answers.
Senator Fuschillo (10:30:10 AM): Thanks for the reminder.
Dawn Lubrano (West Babylon): I read all of your online editorials and upcoming events and find them very informative. I do however have a complaint. My sister has been trying for years to get lighting put up on Straight Path between 109 and Southern State Parkway. We have grown-up in this town, are very involved in the community and have watched this area look very undesirable and rundown. The lighting would bring some curb appeal. The grass does not get cut between 15 th and 17th street ever, there is always garbage and we feel no one cares about this area of West Babylon. There is money in the budget for Wyandanch Beautification always and I worked in Wyandanch for three years and they don't even care. We care I always pick up garbage, call when there is a problem and don't appreciate that we continue to get brushed off. Please let me know what can be done about this ongoing issue.
Senator Fuschillo (10:32:00 AM): Dawn: Straight Path is a Suffolk County Road, meaning Suffolk County makes the determination whether to install lights in that area. We will be happy to contact County Executive Bellone on your behalf to share your concerns. Please call my office at 516-882-0630 and give us your contact information.
Sergio Aguilar (Seaford): Dear Sir, how can we keep the school tax from these large increases year after year, even thou the governor has put a cap on these annual tax increases? Thank you.
Senator Fuschillo (10:33:50 AM): We cannot afford more tax increases. The tax cap was put in place to help control school district spending, which is critical in getting taxes under control. In the first year of the tax cap, Long Island saw the smallest average school tax levy increase in nearly 15 years. School districts need to continue to reduce costs and improve efficiencies, especially in the area of administrative expenses. The State must also continue to enact mandate relief to help school districts save money.
Deborah Rosenblum (Baldwin): Dear Senator Fuschillo: About a year ago, the requirements for a New York State drivers license changed. An eye test is no longer required. I am concerned that this measure presents a danger to drivers and pedestrians. Is anyone monitoring the accidents rates in the wake of this change. Was this a cost saving measure or one of convenience. Is this changed going to be reviewed periodically to ensure than it doesn't create a hazard? Best regards, Deborah Rosenblum
Senator Fuschillo (10:36:05 AM): I opposed these changes, which were proposed but ultimately never implimented. To obtain or renew a driver's license, you must either take an eye test at DMV or with a physician who certifies that you passed the test on your application. I agree with you; eye tests are a valuable tool to make sure someone is physically capable of operating a car safely.
LOU (SEAFORD): I WOULD LIKE YOUR OPINION ON THE PROPOSED SALE OF THE SEAFORD AVE SCHOOL. TY
Senator Fuschillo (10:39:42 AM): The decision to sell or not sell the Seaford Avenue School will be made by the residents of Seaford through a community referrendum where residents will be able to vote on the proposal. I support giving the community the right to determine what happens with the property.
Angela (Massapequa): What is being done to prevent cyber-bullying, and help children and parents deal with the issue in the community?
Senator Fuschillo (10:41:30 AM): Angela, thanks so much for your question. Cyberbullying is a growing issue that is of great concern. Earlier this year, I conducted a roundtable discussion with two Seaford HS students and John Halligan, whose son committed suicide after being bullied and cyberbullied. Throughout the discussion, we offered tips to both students and parents about how to deal with cyberbullying. We also offered links to informational resources to help children affected by bullying. Click here to view more information about these services: http://www.nysenate.gov/event/2012/feb/07/senator-fuschillos-cyber-bullying-webcast
richard colantuono (wantagh): My question concerns the tax rate that the school districts use to get their money. I have grieved my taxes and had my assessment lowered only to find that the school district tax rate eats up whatever my lower assessment gave me. An article in Newsday states the same problem. Now my question is, why can't these school districts live within their means and stop playing games with the tax rate, and what can be done to help stop this ridiculous trend that has been going on to long. Pretty soon what is going to happen is that there will be a lot of empty houses because people cant't pay there school tax.
Senator Fuschillo (10:43:51 AM): Richard, as I stated earlier, New York State approved the 2% cap on school and municipal property tax levies. It is a positive step in the right direction to help control spending, but all levels of government need to reduce their spending and do more with less, because homeowners cannot afford higher taxes.
Moderator (Massapequa): We're getting closer to the end of this chat session but we still have time for a few more questions. Feel free to submit one by filling out the form at the top of the page.
Senator Fuschillo (10:45:21 AM): Yes, please keep the questions coming!
John Duenges (Seaford): How do I know that I'm getting the correct credit for STAR and military service?
Senator Fuschillo (10:47:06 AM): John, please call my office at 516-882-0630 and provide us with your contact information. We will call the Nassau County Department of Assessment on your behalf to find out which exemptions you are currently receiving.
mark dolinger (n. bellmore): Why is the Long Island Railroad such a bureaucratic over paid, non customer friendly mess & how do we get it corrected. After having pants ripped on their ridiculous armrests for the 3rd time it took me 6months, 4phone calls & 2 receipts from it being fixed by my cleaners to recover $25 for a pair of pants that was worth a lot more to me. if i ran my business like this i would be out of buisness.
Senator Fuschillo (10:49:22 AM): Thanks for letting me know that. That's unacceptable, especially given how much it costs to ride the LIRR. I've been very vocal with them about their need to improve their customer service, especially with regard to communicating with their customers. They're making positive steps but more needs to be done, and I'm going to share your story with them to reinforce the point.
Patrick Ingegno (Bellmore): After the election, do you anticipate important changes in governmental policy and, if so, how will the anticipated changes effect the Long Island business environment? Thank You
Senator Fuschillo (10:52:37 AM): On the state level, I am hopeful that in the next legislative session, we continue to focus on the right priorities; job creation, tax relief, and economic development. This past session saw progress in those areas with the passage of the ReCharge NY and NY Works job creation programs; a new law which will create jobs at the Broad Hollow Bioscience Park at Farmingdale State College; the repeal of the MTA payroll tax; and two consecutive state budgets which closed multi-billion dollar deficits without raising taxes or fees. We accomplished a great deal, but there is still much more to be done, which is why we need to continue to focus on these areas in the coming year.
Diane Jacobs (Roosevelt): Sir I would like to see something being done more with the amount of vacant homes in my area being lived in, The cost to rent as well as own is totally out of order as well as the amount of taxes to own homes in New York. If a House doesn't become a home it then breaks down.
Senator Fuschillo (10:55:04 AM): One thing we can do is reduce the number of foreclosures. A number of Long Island communities have foreclosure rates which are among the highest in the state. My office has partnered with the New York State Department of Financial Services in sponsoring free foreclosure prevention programs to help homeowners facing foreclosure. The program allows homeowners to speak one-on-one with trained specialists from the Department of Financial Services about services that may be able to assist them. We will continue to sponsor these programs. Homeowners can also call the Department of Financial Services' Foreclosure Relief Hotline at 1-800-269-0990.
David (Copiague): What you are you doing to fix the economy??? We need jobs on Long Island!!!
Senator Fuschillo (10:58:14 AM): David, thank you for your question. I agree with you; we need more jobs on Long Island. As I stated previously, we have done alot to help put people back to work. New York State created the ReCharge NY program which provides low cost power to businesses in exchange for creating/retaining jobs and making new investments into business expansion. 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. We also created the NY-Works program, which will create jobs through infrastructure projects and repealed the MTA payroll tax to help reduce business costs. That being said, there is still more work to be done and we need to ensure job creation remains a top priority in Albany.
Moderator (Massapequa): Unfortuantely our time is up. Senator Fuschillo, would you like to say anything before we go?
Senator Fuschillo (10:59:40 AM): Thank you to everyone who participated and submitted questions. I am sorry I could not get to every question but after we finish here I will be going over the ones I was unable to get to. We will also be having another online Q & A session this Wednesday night at 7 pm. Thank you again for participating. Enjoy the rest of your day.