THE PEONIES ARE OUT!
JUST RIGHT FOR A WHITE SPORT COAT
WHITE PLAINS WEEK ALL OVER THE WORLD
THE CON ED-NYSEG POWER RESPONSE REPORT
THE COUNTY AIRPORT–SHOULD WE GROW IT?
THE INCREDIBLE DECLINE IN WHITE PLAINS SALES TAX RECEIPTS THAT’S KILLING THE CITY
LEGISLATION WITHOUT PENALTIES IS NO LEGISLATION AT ALL: EARNED SICK LEAVE HAS NO TEETH.
THE BARK PARK CRISIS JULY 1 YOU’LL HAVE TO PAY TO PLAY
TRUMP DAY BY DAY–NEVER A DULL MOMENT
MEMORIAL DAY PARADOX
WPCNR IMMIGRATION INTELLIGENCER. From the Department of Homeland Security. May 25, 2018:
(Editor’s Note: This news release was issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at 4 PM E.D.T.)
DHS Announces Additional Visas for Foreign Workers to Assist American Businesses at Risk of Failing
Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced that an additional 15,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas will be available for Fiscal Year 2018.
Starting this week, eligible petitioners for H-2B visas can file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. Eligible petitioners must submit a supplemental attestation on Form ETA 9142-B-CAA-2 with their petition.
In this determination, Secretary Nielsen determined there are not sufficient, qualified, U.S. workers available to perform temporary non-agriculture labor to satisfy the needs of American businesses in FY18.
This allocation is in addition to the 66,000 visas already issued this year. Secretary Nielsen made this decision after consulting with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, members of Congress, and business owners.
“The limitations on H-2B visas were originally meant to protect American workers, but when we enter a situation where the program unintentionally harms American businesses it needs to be reformed,” said Secretary Nielsen. “I call on Congress to pass much needed reforms of the program and to expressly set the number of H-2B visas in statute.
We are once again in a situation where Congress has passed the buck and turned a decision over to DHS that would be better situated with Congress, who knows the needs of the program.
Starting this week, eligible petitioners for H-2B visas can file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. Eligible petitioners must submit a supplemental attestation on Form ETA 9142-B-CAA-2 with their petition.
As Secretary, I remain committed to protecting U.S. workers and strengthening the integrity of our lawful immigration system and look forward to working with Congress to do so.”
The H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker program was designed to serve U.S. businesses unable to find a sufficient number of qualified U.S. workers to perform nonagricultural work of a temporary nature.
Congress set the annual H-2B visa cap at 66,000. A maximum of 33,000 H-2B visas are available during the first half of the fiscal year, and the remainder, including any unused H-2B visas from the first half of that fiscal year, is available starting April 1 through September 30.
On February 27, 2018, USCIS determined that it had received sufficient H-2B petitions to meet the full FY 2018 statutory cap of 66,000.
In the FY 2018 Omnibus, Congress delegated its authority to the Secretary to increase the number of temporary nonagricultural worker visas available to U.S. employers through September 30, just as it did in the FY 2017 Omnibus.
In the intervening time since enactment of the FY 2018 Omnibus, the Secretary consulted with the Secretary of Labor on the issue, in accordance with Congressional requirements, and developed this rule.
To Repeat: Starting this week, eligible petitioners for H-2B visas can file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. Eligible petitioners must submit a supplemental attestation on Form ETA 9142-B-CAA-2 with their petition.
Details on eligibility and filing requirements will be available in the final temporary rule and on the Increase in H-2B Nonimmigrant Visas for FY 2018 webpage to be published on uscis.gov when the final temporary rule is posted for public inspection.
DHS is committed to ensuring that our immigration system is implemented lawfully and that American workers are protected. If members of the public have information that a participating employer may be abusing this program, DHS invites them to submit information to ReportH2BAbuse@uscis.dhs.gov and include information identifying the H-2B petitioning employer and relevant information that leads them to believe that the H-2B petitioning employer is abusing the H-2B program.
WPCNR PARKER TALK. From County Board of Legislators Majority Leader and District 7 Legislator Catherine Parker. May 25, 2018:
|Although winter is finally behind us, the struggle continues to make sure that local utilities are prepared to deal with power outages.The Board of Legislators is involved in several ongoing initiatives to ensure that utilities make the changes necessary to provide better response times and communication when storms cause power failures.On May 21, United Westchester released a 49-page report, which laid out several steps the group would like to see Con Ed and regulators take, including a reevaluation of the system of mutual aid utilities reliance on line crews from hundreds (or even thousands) of miles away to restore power after storms.
On Tuesday, May 29 at 10 a.m., at the Boards Chambers 148 Martine Avenue, White Plains, 8th floor the State Assembly’s Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions will hold a public hearing on the subject of storm response by utilities, at which utility representatives will appear.
And on Monday, June 4, at 2 p.m., the Board of Legislators will bring in representatives of Con Ed to a meeting of the Committee of the Whole, to answer questions still left unanswered from their March appearance at the Board.
In an environment when more frequent and more violent storms are the new normal thanks to climate change, it is our responsibility to make sure more frequent and longer power outages are not.
WPCNR QUILL & EYESHADE. By John F. Bailey. May 24, 2018 UPDATED WITH CHARTS 12:35 PM:
The economy is not recovering in White Plains New York USA.
It has been bleeding millions, beyond stagnant.
Unless the last two months of the current fiscal year, May and June have growth of 20% (which has never happened) the city will not meet the millions it earned last year in 2016-17.
It will not come close.
If we just meet last year’s May June numbers in sales taxes, the city will be down $3 Million in sales tax receipts, a decline of 11.5% in 4 years.
Four years ago in 2013-14, the city set an all-time record for sales tax receipts, $51,856,187.
Inflation in years 2013 (1.7%), 2014 (1.3%),2015 (.13 %),2016(.41%) ,2017 (1.95%), and first 4 months of 2018 (1.68%), for the Metropolitan Area, would suggest the inflation rate averaged 1.36% a year.
Where’s the inflation?
If the White Plains economy were keeping pace with inflation, theoretically the sales tax results results should have risen 8.16% through April 2018. They have not.
As the chart of City Sales Tax Receipts in this year’s proposed city budget due to be approved next week, shows, the sales tax “handle” has declined to $49,310,345, through 2016-2017, a decline of 6.8% since 2013-14.
The sales tax receipts have declined every year since the 2013-14 high of $51,856,187.
(White Plains sales tax receipts are divided by the budget total, plus the amount taken from sales tax receipts to contribute to the Tax Stabilization Fund, used essentially to pay for salary increases in the budget to reduce the property taxes on citizens, so you add the “Tax Stabilization amount” to the Total Sales Tax Receipts column to get the total sales tax receipts for the year. For example, in 2013-14, you add the $46,670,570 Total to the Tax Stabilization Fund $5,185,617, to come up with the $51,856,187 Total to get the high water sales tax revenue in 2012-14)
With two months to go in this closing fiscal year 2017-18,, unless we have better than last year’s May-June activity in sales tax receipts which was $7,998,748 combined, the sales tax will decline to $46.2 Million– if we can equal last year’s May June Numbers, $7,198,873 combined receipts, the city will be down $3 Million in sales taxes.
The March April Numbers showed life. The city March sales tax receipts of $4,013,136 as reported by the State Department of Taxation and Finance, were 3.4% less that the March 2017 receipts of $4,154,589.
The April Sales Tax Receipts were good, increasing to $3,756,339 compared to the April 2017 $3,521,122, a growth of 6.7%.
The trend is not good. The Budget and Management Committee, the finance department, the Common Council has to wake up and smell the coffee.
55 Main Street. You and we the residents have a problem.
The millennials cannot come in here fast enough.
The city has to reinvent its image by making White Plains more friendly and diverse in establishments, retail, restaurant, and entertainment.
Raising sales tax again to recapture this lost revenue will simply aggravate the problem.
Raising Parking rates and Parking ticket fines will not do it. That will perpetuate the perception that White Plains is not a friendly, convenient place to visit, that it is ticket-revenue happy.
White Plains is a safe, interesting city, with the lowest property taxes in the county, I believe, but its planned development is not proceeding fast-enough.
The failure of timely construction of approved projects due to failure to find ready financing of the projects due to reluctant retail tenants wary of betting on millennial money, is one of the many factors that have put White Plains development off schedule.
The $3 Million decline in sales taxes, unless a sales tax miracle occurs and we get a 30% increase in economic activity in the city in the two months we will not come close to equaling this sales tax revenue deficit.
Next budget year, 2019-20, is when this economic depression is going to hit hard.
A city property tax increase of at least 6% to make a correction in the (at this time)$3 Million revenue shortfall in the sales tax, could be considered and with an eye to funding the next round of city labor contracts and benefits negotiations, currently $124,738,322. ,up 2% in the 2018-19 proposed budget.
This year’s budget coming up for approval next week the proposed budget has a 2.9% increase in the property tax resulting in a $59.8 Million property taxes on a $211.36/$1,000 of assessed valutation.
If the $3 Million deficit in the sales tax becomes reality, the $3 million could be made up by adjusting the 2019-20 budget a year from now by a $230/$1,000 of assessed valuation, a $20 increase in the property tax rate tax would stop the bleeding from the sales tax revenues of 2017-18 and cover it for the next year, if the disturbing trend continues, (while waiting for the new development bonanza to get going).
That much of an tax rate increase, is comparable to the $18 per thousand in assessed valuation the school district raised the school tax rate in their recently approved (by 82%) 2018-19 school budget.
Now, the Common Council has the ability to submit a budget next year that exceeds the Governor Cuomo tax cap and straightforwardly next year make up that sales tax shortfall with a $20 increase in the tax rate to $230/$1,000.00; the city government budget is not subject to a referendum approval of their budget by the voters.
Other things they could do is raise city fees to make up the $3 Million decline in the sales tax receipts, should that decline not turn around. But the city will not know that until a year from now.
They could take $3 Million from the $35 Million Fund Balance the city has, and cross their fingers.
The sad truth is the Budget and Management Committee, the finance department, and above all the Common Council should have been more concerned about this sales tax erosion, which is really hurting this year.
It will be hard to reverse and won’t start to reverse until the millennials come to the rescue maybe (please come into town now) which is years away due to financial problems on part of developers of already approved construction projects. Just one has been built and that is The Continuum.
WPCNR REALTY REALITY.From the Westchester County Association. May 24, 2018:
Commercial real estate experts are bullish on Westchester.
At a WCA Economic Development Task Force meeting, Howard Greenberg, Howard Properties; Glenn Walsh, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank; Bill Cuddy, CBRE; and Al Mirin, Cushman & Wakefield, cited recent deals and the expansion, renovation, and repurposing of 550,000 square feet of office space as a bellwether of the county’s ability to attract and retain business…
The fastest-growing segment is in the medical, technology, and life sciences industries. “Westchester is well-positioned because we are well-prices, developers are willing to provide turnkey installations, and various healthcare sectors are consolidating,” said Walsh. Of course, demographics and lifestyle are also big factors.
“We are repurposing, rezoning and recycling for popular uses, which ultimately will lead to more jobs and more occupied space,” said Howard Greenberg, Howard Properties. “We didn’t move the needle on office space in 2013, but over half a million feet of commercial inventory stayed off the market and millions are being spent on renovation work,” Greenberg pointed out.
White Plains, Harrison, and additional communities are re-thinking some of the corporate office parks along the I-287 corridor and are promoting mixed-used development there—including better housing for young professionals, after-work recreation and entertainment, educational facilities, and one-stop-shopping medical centers for Westchester’s aging population, according to the panelists.
The panelists cited many recent deals as examples, including Montefiore Medical Center’s purchase of the former Kraft Foods site in Tarrytown, New York Medical College’s acquisition of 19 Skyline Drive, (formerly occupied by IBM), and WESTMED’s built-to-suit facility in Purchase. Future developments in the works include the repurposing of office space in downtown White Plains for multifamily residential space.
“The inventory is changing in exciting ways,” noted Marissa Brett, WCA’s economic development director. “The real estate experts have a lot of optimism and so do we. We’ll continue our efforts through the BLUEPRINT for Westchester to brand the county as a place where business can create environments for people can Live.Work.Play!
Supporters of Paid Employee Sick Leave Rallied in front of The Michaelian Building in White Plains Monday and included representatives from The Communications Workers of America, Transport Workers Union Local 100, SEIU 32BJ, Westchester-Putnam Central Labor Body; Community Voices Heard, Westchester for Change; Lower Hudson Valley Progressive Action Network/LHVPAN, Indivisible Westchester, Westchester Social Justice Community, Mount Vernon United Tenants, Sustainable Port Chester Alliance, Irvington Activists, NY Paid Leave Coalition, Working Families Party. WPCNR Photo by Diana Das
WPCNR MARTINE AVENUE JOURNAL. From the Service Employees International Union 32BJ with Supplemental Reporting by WPCNR. MAY 22, 2018:
Labor organizations staged a demonstration on Martine Avenue at the County Office Building demanding passage of the Earned Employee Sick Leave by the County Board of Legislators.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer has said he will sign the Earned Sick Leave bill, which was introduced by Legislator Borgia last year, if adopted by the Board of Legislators..
WPCNR talked with Jason Chervokas, Director of Communications for the Westchester County Board of Legislators Tuesday morning who told WPCNR the county attorney has briefed the Committee on extensive changes in the law and said it was just at the beginning of the legislative process.
Asked if the law had penalties built into it that the county would apply to employers who declined to comply with the earned sick leave program, Chervokas said the law as it stands now did not. He said the law allowed personal action to be brought against an employer.
Mr. Chervokas said the meeting history of the current legislation could be read at this link:
http://westchestercountyny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?Frame=None&MeetingID=4977&MediaPosition=&ID=10623&CssClass= — you’ll see the meeting history of the current legislation.
The current draft of the bill is at this link:
1. And if you look in the attachments section of that page you’ll see a link labelled:
According to the SEIU statement on the law:
The law would enable workers who do not get paid sick days from their employers to earn minimum of 1 hour of earned paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Eligible workers would get a maximum of five days per year.
In Westchester, more than 120,000 workers – many in the food service and student transportation industries – are compelled to go to work when sick because they otherwise will have their pay docked. That means contagious illnesses are being spread throughout our communities because sick workers are not being afforded the ability to take care of themselves, or a loved one, at home.
“With a large proportion of low-wage earning employees in Westchester County having no paid sick time, these workers simply report to work ill because they cannot afford to miss even a single day of work” Joe Mayhew, a member of the Employer Paid Sick Leave Coalition, said. ”This puts Westchester residents at risk for noroviruses that can have deadly consequences to the young and elderly; yet, we can make Westchester healthier for its workers, customers and the community by supporting Catherine Borgia’s legislation that would require employers with 5 or more employees to provide Employer Paid Sick Time”
REACTION TO SUPREME COURT DECISION ON ARBITRATION.
Reacting to another labor matter affecting union and workers’ rights — the Monday decision on arbitration by the Supreme Court — Hector Figueroa, President of the SEIU 32BJ issued this statement:
“The Supreme Court decision is an assault on the overwhelming majority of working people who will now be forced to sign away some of their rights in order to work. This decision gives a major victory to unscrupulous corporations who wish to further rig the system against working people. By making it as difficult as possible for employers to be accountable for wage theft, discrimination and pay inequity, the Supreme Court is sending a message that the rights of corporations matter more than those of working people.
“As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg noted in the dissent, ‘there is strength in numbers’ and any attempt to dismantle that strength will harm vulnerable workers. Employees should not have to sign away their rights to have a job. It is now up to Congress to act to stop this egregious decision from harming millions of Americans.”
La 32BJ SEIU sobre LA DECISIÓN de la CORTE SUPREMA sobre ACCIÓN JUDICIAL COLECTIVA y ARBITRAJE
“Esta decisión de la Corte Suprema es un asalto a la vasta mayoría de la gente trabajadora que ahora se verá forzada a renunciar a algunos de sus derechos con el fin de tener empleo. Esta decisión le otorga una gran victoria a las inescrupulosas corporaciones que desean manipular aún más el sistema en contra de la gente trabajadora. Al impedir lo más posible que los empleadores se hagan responsables por los hurtos de salarios, la discriminación y la desigualdad de salarios, la Corte Suprema está enviando un claro mensaje que los derechos de las corporaciones importan más que los de la gente trabajadora.
“Como indicó la Jueza Ruth Bader Ginsberg en su opinión contraria, ‘hay poder en los números’ y todo intento de desmantelar ese poder perjudicará a trabajadores vulnerables. Los empleados no tienen porqué renunciar a sus derechos para tener un empleo. Le corresponde ahora al Congreso intervenir para evitar que tan ignominioso veredicto perjudique a millones de americanos.”
Assemblyman David Buchwald addressing the news conference Monday afternoon announcing consensus of United Westchester’s blistering critique of Con Ed and NYSEG performance Monday afternoon. WPCNR Photo by Diana Das
WPCNR THE POWER STORY. By Diana Das. May 21, 2018 UPDATED 10:30 AM, May 22, 2018:
In a half-hour press conference today at the Michaelian Building, Westchester County Executive George Latimer and Assemblyman David Buchwald (D), and the executive board of United Westchester released a 48-page report on the failures of the utilities to the Public Service Commission, Con Edison, and NYSEG.
United Westchester is a bipartisan task force chaired by County Executive Latimer and Assemblyman Buchwald and is comprised of local, Westchester County, New York State, and federal officials. The task force was formed in the wake of Winter Storms Riley and Quinn, which occurred in March of 2018 and left thousands of residents, businesses, and essential facilities without power for days and even 2 weeks.
After the storms, elected officials were asked to respond to a survey regarding the problems with the storm response in their communities and how things could be improved.
The survey contained 21 categories, which included preparation and coordination of crew, among others.
Today’s (Monday) press conference announced the recommendations based on the results on the survey.
In a letter to John Rhodes, Chairman and CEO of the New York State Public Service Commission, County Executive Latimer and Assemblyman Buchwald note that their survey
Appearing on the air on Radio WVOX, Tuesday morning, County Executive Latimer said the list of changes the report detailed that NYSEG and Con Edison should implement, he hoped would be enacted by the Public Service Commisson and that Governor Cuomo would implement and enforce them.
“Indicates the lack of preparedness, insufficient responses, and inaccurate communications by Con Edison and NYSEG caused the most significant impacts.”
In their letter to Chairman Rhodes, County Executive Latimer and Assemblyman Buchwald attached a report of United Westchester’s review of the response to Winter Storms Riley and Quinn.
The review includes 11 recommendations on things that can be done moving forward, such as –
* Utility companies making sure that county, state, and federal officials are included in pre-storm conference calls when held.
* Revisit the practice of using robo calls to inform customers as to the status of their power.
In his remarks before introducing Assemblyman Buchwald regarding local officials, County Executive Latimer offered bipartisan praise:
“Every one of them, both political parties, at every level, did their very best.” He said that they were “doing their utmost for their residents.”
Speaking further, County Executive Latimer asked, “How do we channel what occurred into something better?”
In his comments, Assemblyman Buchwald said that “We need for our economy, for health and safety, a sense that everything possible will be done.”
He stressed the officials’ commitment that what occurred in March won’t happen again: “We are committed to doing everything in our power, collectively, to make sure we don’t see these sorts of things happen again.”
County Executive Latimer also said that NYSEG (New York State Electric & Gas) needs to commit to providing liaisons at the start of storm restoration work, not a few days later.
Assemblyman Buchwald and County Executive Latimer believe that the recommendations of United Westchester will be helpful not just to the elected officials, but also to the utility companies themselves:
“We think this document will form the building blocks of responses not just by government officials, but also by utilities themselves.”
Monday evening Mr.Buchwald announced the 48-page report is available for public review:
To review the report visit Mr. Buckwald’s website click http://www.nyassembly.gov/mem/David-Buchwald
WPCNR REALTY REALITY. From Quita Synapanya, Regional Director, MetroStudy.com. Metro Study surveys vacant lots undeveloped in new housing projects nationwide. This is their latest findings on the New York, New Jersey markets.May 20, 2018:
The New York Suburbs (Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess, Putnam and Orange Counties) have seen an increase in annual starts by 21.5% quarter to quarter.
It’s up 23% year over year ending 1Q18 with 1011 annual starts.
Annual closings for the quarter are down 5.2% and year over year was down 23.9% closing out 1Q18 at 625 new home closings.
Vacant developed lots in this market is at 21.1 months of supply which makes the NY Suburbs market starting to get undersupplied in terms of finished lots.
“Looking at the macro view of the entire Northern/Central New Jersey market it may seem obvious that this market is struggling to gain strong momentum in new home construction activity,” said Quita Syhapanya, Regional Director of Metrostudy’s New Jersey and New York markets.
“The main issue at hand outside of the potential impact of the tax reform bill has on current homeowners and potential buyers in the market is the fact that the market is close to being a fully built out housing market.
A study by the state of NJ states that NJ has actually already developed 60% of its buildable land as of 2007. That was eleven years ago which makes finding traditional undeveloped land that is not preserved or environmentally constrained a real challenge.
This impact has capped the activity this market can have. The other option is redevelopment which you see in abundance along the Gold Coast specifically in areas in Hudson County, NJ.
Metrostudy’s 1Q18 survey of the Central/Northern New Jersey & New York Suburbs new home construction market showed 1,202 starts for 1Q18, a decrease of 7.1% from the starts in 4Q17.
Year over year, first quarter starts were down year-over-year by 20%. There were 852 closings in the quarter, down 19.3% from 4Q17 and down 9.1% from 1Q17.
In annual starts ended 1Q18 with 5,038 new homes started, a decrease of 5.6% off the annual pace last quarter. Year over year the pace is down 24.2% over 1Q17. Annual closings decreased by 2.1% off last quarters annual pace ending the quarter at 4,039. Year over year saw annual closings decrease 9.6%.
Below is a breakout of starts and closings in the three regions covered in this market:
For 1Q18 there are 7,586 Vacant Developed Lots (VDL) in the market. That represents a .6% decrease in developed lots in the region from the 7,634 lots available in 4Q17. Year over year saw an increase in available lots by 10.9%. This region has 18.1 months of supply of vacant developed lots remaining. With an annual starts rate of 5,038 it would take 18.1 months to go through the remaining lots at this pace.
Northern New Jersey, NY Suburban Market Undersupplied.
The Northern New Jersey/NY Suburban market continues to be under supplied. Lot availability and available land opportunities continue to be tight with over regulation on land holding back development.
There were 1106 lots delivered into the market this quarter. Year over year lot deliveries are down 10.1% from the 1,230 delivered in 1Q17.
There is very limited land available for new development in the NJ/NY market. Annual lot deliveries ended 1Q18 with 5,667 lots delivered into the market. The pace is down 2.1% quarter to quarter and year over year its down 8.2%.
Getting projects approved and putting the first shovel into the ground has been a challenge.
This region’s land available for development is very limited and many builders and local developers have been moving away from greenfield development and exploring options for redevelopment in transit oriented towns in this region.