Category : New York News


New legislation now requires all homeowners receiving a Basic STAR exemption to register with the New York State Tax Department in order to receive the exemption in 2014 and subsequent years. Homeowners will not have to register in order to receive their 2013 STAR exemptions and will not have to re-register every year. Based on the information provided in the registration process, the Tax Department will monitor homeowners’ eligibility in future years.

Registration started on August 19, 2013 and will continue through December 31, 2013. to register.



This morning Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that production of the upcoming film “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” will take place entirely in New York State – and that some sequences will be filmed in Rochester. The press release, which appears below, says that locations in the Rochester area will be scouted on Friday.

Additionally, a piece posted on the Wall Street Journal’s website late last night specifies that one of the sequences filmed locally will be a chase sequence, due to our area’s less-restrictive speed laws (compared to New York City).

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is the sequel to 2012’s “The Amazing Spider-Man,” the reboot of the super-hero franchise that stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Marc Webb will direct the film, which is slated to debut in theaters in May 2014. The cast also includes Jamie Foxx as the villain Electro, Paul Giamatti as The Rhino, Shailene Woodley as Mary Jane Watson, and Chris Cooper as Norman Osborn.


Production Estimated to Result in 3,500 Jobs and Casting of 11,000 Extras across the State

Biggest Stage Footprint Ever in New York; Scenes to be Filmed Both Upstate and Downstate
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” will be the largest movie production to be filmed in New York and is expected to result in 3,500 jobs and the casting of 11,000 extras. The production will have the biggest stage footprint ever seen in New York with massive sets being constructed at three facilities in Long Island and Brooklyn. Scenes will be shot both upstate and downstate.

“There is no better place to film the next adventure of Peter Parker than right here in the Empire State,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York has the resources, talent and locations to help make ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ a blockbuster hit. This production will also help generate new jobs and economic activity both upstate and downstate which is great news for our local communities and fans of the franchise.”

Gary Martin, President, Production Administration, Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, said, “From Rochester to Manhattan, this is the first time an entire Spider-Man production will be shot in The Empire State. We are thrilled with the extraordinarily skilled craftspeople, crew and facilities that exist throughout the region and all of the local businesses whose work will help make this project possible. By shooting the film in New York, we are able to streamline our production needs and realize enormous benefits and efficiencies as a result of the state’s motion picture tax incentive program. Plain and simple, this is a win-win for the state and our production.”

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” production expects to require 3,500 new hires, one-third of whom will be from Long Island, and 11,000 extras, one-fourth to one-third of whom will be from Long Island. Upstate, the production expects to hire approximately 250 crew members and a few hundred extras.

The production is so large that it will use space at two separate stage facilities on Long Island, Grumman Studios and Gold Coast Studios, as well as the Marcy Armory in Brooklyn. The production expects to shoot for 150 days, including 50 days in Bethpage and 10 to 15 days in Rochester. This Friday, the production will be scouting locations in Rochester for scenes, one of which will be a car chase.
Filming “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” in New York will generate millions of dollars in economic activity across the state. For example, the production will require 3,000 hotel room nights in Rochester as well as 3,000 hotel room nights in Bethpage and Plainview on Long Island. In addition, the production is using several Long Island-based businesses for purchasing food and equipment, including spending approximately $279,000 for container rentals from Mobile on Demand Storage of NY, Inc. in East Patchogue, $130,000 in crane rentals from Pride Equipment Corporation in Islip, $32,000 for beverages from U.S. Coffee in Hicksville, $19,000 for auto parts from Quick Auto Parts in Hicksville, and $16,000 for food from Bagelboss in Hicksville.

Many movie productions, including “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” have touted New York State’s film tax credit program as a major incentive when choosing New York as the location to film. Since the film tax credit program started in 2004, it has leveraged an estimated $12.1 billion worth of direct spending and has been a huge job generator for New York.

In 2012 alone, it is estimated that the 134 projects that have applied for the program will result in $2.2 billion in spending in New York. The State is now being billed as “Hollywood East.”

Since Governor Cuomo took office, the program has averaged 134 applications per year, nearly double the average of 72 per year over the life of the program prior to January 2011. In this year’s budget, Governor Cuomo has proposed a 5-year extension of the program and other changes to increase transparency and accountability.

First Niagara Financial Group has added to its offerings for small-business customers, introducing new checking account options as part of its effort to attract more clients and business.

The Buffalo-based bank, which last year added a small-business division with more than 40 lenders in its Northeast territory, said Tuesday that it launched its BIZ200 and BIZ500 accounts with features geared to small businesses.

Its BIZ200 account, aimed at companies with up to $250,000 in monthly revenues, offers 200 free transactions per month, with no minimum balance requirements or monthly account maintenance fee. The BIZ500 account, for growing companies, offers 500 free transactions per month but requires a $5,000 average daily minimum balance to avoid the $15 monthly fee. The higher-level account also includes tiered cash-handling fees, including no charge for the first $50,000 per statement cycle.

The bank said that it will continue making changes, including “digital enhancements” to suit customer needs.

“First Niagara recognizes the importance of small business and has developed business checking products to save small-business owners money,” said F. Scott Fisher, First Niagara’s managing director of retail channels.

“We are committed to providing the most value to our small-business clients and will continue to find ways to help them going forward.”


More than half of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll oppose putting a casino in downtown Rochester. Of the 55 percent opposed, 37 percent say they strongly oppose.

The Buffalo News last week reported that the Seneca Nation of Indians wants the right to develop a casino in downtown Rochester as part of a settlement with New York in a dispute over $572 million in gambling revenue owed the state and local governments.

The published report came less than a month after Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a proposal to add up to seven casinos on non-Indian land, with the first three located in Upstate New York.

Meanwhile, Finger Lakes Casino & Racetrack—one of the state’s racinos—has begun work on a $12 million expansion that will add hundreds of video lottery terminals and is part of a larger plan that envisions full casino gambling eventually.

In August 2011, 63 percent of respondents to an RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll favored legalizing private, non-Indian casino gambling in New York. The state constitution prohibits forms of commercial gambling, other than video lottery terminals. Passing a constitutional amendment requires approval from two consecutive Legislatures, followed by a public referendum.

Roughly 1,000 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Feb. 18 and 19.

Do you favor or oppose putting a casino in downtown Rochester?
Favor strongly: 23%
Favor: 22%
Oppose: 18%
Oppose strongly: 37%

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It was supposed to be model for changing public education.

Instead, far less than half the $50 million in a state grant program was awarded, leaving some unsuccessful applicants wondering about New York’s commitment to reform.


But a review of the first year of the program shows that less than half the funds — $17 million — were awarded. Out of about 700 school districts in the state, only 38 applied for management efficiency grants, and 16 received a total of $7.1 million in grants. The school performance grant drew 74 applicants, but only $10.2 million was handed out to 23 districts.

That doesn’t sit well with East Greenbush schools Superintendent Angela Nagle, who spent 30 hours with a team of administrators putting together a management efficiency grant application. They consolidated staff positions and saved money on benefits and salary. They failed to win a grant, and now face another steep round of job cuts.

“Something is wrong, that is the message being sent,” she said. “It’s a system that is broken. The whole concept of competitive grants is broken. There is no equity in it.”

State officials clearly don’t see it that way and claim the competitive grant program “changed the paradigm in school funding to incentivize performance” in this year’s state budget presentation. The full amount was not awarded because districts were supposed to meet minimum requirements and those that did not were ineligible to win money, Education Department spokesman Jonathan Burman said. It was up to the Cuomo administration to determine what would happen to the grant money not awarded, he added. It is unclear what happened to the funds.

Local districts awarded performance grants included: Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk, $400,000; Schodack, $200,000; Rotterdam-Mohonasen, $600,000; and Queensbury, $600,000. Those awarded efficiency grants included: Queensbury, $187,000; Schalmont, $83,000; and Schodack, $100,000.

The state program is clearly modeled on the federal Race to the Top program, which used relatively small amounts of money to bring about significant change in the nation’s public schools. In this year’s budget, Cuomo has proposed setting aside $25 million to spur a competition to implement full-day prekindergarten programs for high-needs students as well as $20 million to extend learning time.

Race to Top pitted states against each other to make sweeping changes to law by dangling federal money in front of them. In New York, the competition helped spur a new teacher evaluation system and alignment with tougher curriculum standards, known as the Common Core. It came with a $700 million grant. Opponents say it creates an unfair system of winners and losers, and that kids pay the price.

The state money that was not dispersed should have been put back into school aid, where it could go directly to classrooms and make a difference to children, said Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, which advocates for more equitable school spending. The undistributed $33 million could have saved hundreds of jobs for teachers, who work directly with children, he said.

“Instead of going to getting kids to college, it went back to the bean counters,” he said. • 518-454-5080 • @518Schools

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irondequoit-square-at-titus-and-cooper-300x196The Irondequoit town board didn’t want to end up with another empty space like the Medley Center because of a failed Payment In Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT agreement. That led to the board’s hesitation in reaching the deal with iSquare developer Mike Nolan.

The board and Nolan both had to compromise to come up with the terms of the agreement.

The town’s biggest concession was the length of the PILOT agreement, approving a 25 year deal.

The board also agreed that if COMIDA approves the deal construction can start immediately, “basically what it said was that after we went to COMIDA previously we would have had to go back to the town and back through this process again for another board meeting and have them vote again before we could have proceeded,” explained Nolan, “it just added another element we didn’t feel necessary.”

In exchange, Nolan agreed to meet construction benchmarks and to have the property re assessed at 15 and 20 years. If the value increases Nolan’s PILOT payments will be raised, “we got what we wanted in that paragraph two that there had to be benchmarks and that’s what was holding us up, he didn’t want that, we got it,” said Irondequoit Town Supervisor Mary Joyce D’Aurizio, “so in that paragraph two that if COMIDA does not follow on those benchmarks it does come back to the town board and we re work the PILOT.”

COMIDA is expected to consider Nolan’s application on March 19th.

For more information about I-Square visit:

Cuomo recasts pay hike debate

ALBANY — Saying a federal push has made his own efforts to raise the minimum wage in New York more “complex,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggested Sunday he might drop language increasing the minimum wage to $8.75 from his budget proposal to allow for further negotiation.

Cuomo, a Democrat, is facing resistance from Republicans who have partial control of the state Senate. They say a minimum wage increase could hurt businesses, and used President Barack Obama‘s call in last week’s State of the Union address for a $9 minimum wage that would automatically increase with inflation as a reason to oppose Cuomo.

“That assumes it happens federally, and if it actually passed federally at $9, they would have a point. But there’s a long way between here and there,” Cuomo told journalists at a cocktail party sponsored by the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators.

The governor emphasized that the minimum wage remains “under negotiation.” On Thursday, Democrats who dominate the Assembly reintroduced a bill using Obama’s parameters for a minimum wage increase. Cuomo said he felt no need to re-propose at the current time.

“We’re at the table, we understand everybody’s position. … What we have to figure out is, what is the likelihood the federal law will actually pass, or not, and if it’s going to pass, when,” Cuomo said. “We’ll see where we are … [as the budget deadline approaches.] It can either be done in the budget or toward the end of session.”

The state’s current spending plan expires March 31. State law gives the governor a strong hand in negotiations by limiting changes legislators can make to budget bills; if Cuomo left language in, he could essentially dare legislators to pass it into law along with the rest of the budget or shut down state government if they refuse.

Cuomo said last week that he would move in “parallel” with Obama, but lauded the president’s efforts. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-Brooklyn, said, “I don’t think one complicates the other in any way at all” and said it would come up in the Democrat-dominated Senate this spring. While polls show a minimum wage increase is supported by more than three-quarters of New Yorkers, it has a harder road in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

The minimum wage is now $7.25 an hour. Several members of the caucus of legislators of color held a news conference earlier Sunday pushing this point. It is a key legislative priority for the year, the members said, and Cuomo’s embrace of it contributed to a warmer reception at this year’s conference, known informally as Caucus Weekend.

In 2011, several legislators protested education cuts outside the Executive Mansion, and Cuomo was booed during his dinner speech. The evolution is a natural outgrowth of Cuomo’s own shift from a fiscal-austerity focus to making New York the “progressive capital,” Assemblyman Jeff Aubry explained.

“The relationship between governor and the caucus is sort of a year-to-year thing — what is the agenda, what are the priorities,” the Queens Democrat said.

This year, Cuomo hosted legislators for a reception at the Executive Mansion where he feted former New York City Mayor David Dinkins. He skipped the formal dinner at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center — the keynote speaker this year was California Rep. Maxine Waters — in order to head back to New York City, but told attendees at the cocktail party that “the prime mover for this progressive agenda is this caucus.” • 518-454-5081 • @JimmyVielkind

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New York May Be Improving?

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s job performance has reached new heights, for the first time in more than five years a majority thinks New York is on the right track, a Siena College poll released Monday shows improvement.

Some 62% think Cuomo is doing an excellent or good job, with 17% stating it to be excellent—the highest since Cuomo took office in January 2011. Also, 37% say he is doing a fair or poor job.

Cuomo’s favorability rating is at 73% positive and 20% negative. The 73% positive matches his April 2011 rating and trails the 77% rating in February 2011, a month after he took office.

“After a little more than a year in office, the governor may not be a newlywed anymore but his honeymoon with voters continues stronger than ever,” poll spokesman Steven Greenberg said in a statement.

51% think the state is on the right track, the survey shows, with 38% thinking it is headed in the wrong direction and 11% saying they do not know or have no opinion.

It is the first time that more than 50% feel the state is headed in the right direction since Eliot Spitzer’s landslide election in November 2006, and up from 42% in the last Siena poll in November 2011.

Some 51% think Albany is considerably less dysfunctional after Cuomo’s first year in office, with 45% saying the state is still way too dysfunctional.

Among specific issues, 60% say Cuomo should veto any redistricting plan put forward by the state Legislature, Greenberg said.

The survey was done Jan. 6-12 with telephone calls to 805 registered New York voters. The margin of error is 3.5%.

Last month, a national report listed Rochester as one of the top major real estate markets to experience growth in home prices in 2011. The latest update of that report forecasts the market here will remain stable in 2012. Inc., a California-based provider of real estate and investment data for major financial groups, Monday released its final Home Data Index Report year-over-year for 2011 as well its forecast for 2012.

The report examines the country’s overall real estate market stability in terms of home prices. The report shows a national decrease of 2.1 percent for 2011.

The report ranks Rochester fourth among major metro markets with a 2011 observed year-over-year home price increase of 4.7 percent. Rochester ranked behind Dayton, Ohio; Orlando, Fla.; and the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, Fla., markets.

Clear Capital’s 2012 Forecast predicts a national increase in home prices of 0.2 percent. After a solid year, the report forecasts the Rochester market will remain stable with a slight decrease of 0.2 percent. The report predicts Rochester will end 2012 ranked 26th among major metro markets, the highest ranking market in New York.

The Home Data Index Report takes into account factors, including local economic conditions and real estate owned saturation, which accounts for properties that are in the possession of a lender as a result of foreclosure or forfeiture.

Rochester Business Journal
December 16, 2011

The Rochester area ranked among the top 20 cities nationwide in job growth from 2010 to 2011, a new study by the Milken Institute shows.

The Best-Performing Cities index ranked Rochester 16th in job growth among the nation’s top 200 large metropolitan areas with a 2.41 percent increase in employment in the last year. The Buffalo area ranked 64th, while Syracuse ranked 66th in the category.

Rochester’s overall rank on the list was 71st, up from 89th a year ago. The Buffalo area ranked 72nd among top performers, down three notches, while Syracuse ranked 92nd, down 12 spots.

San Antonio ranked first on the list of best-performing large cities, while its neighbor, El Paso, Texas, ranked second. No cities in New York ranked among the top 25 in 2011.

The index measures which U.S. metropolitan areas are experiencing the best overall economic performance based on growth measures such as job creation and retention, the quality of jobs being produced and overall economic outcomes.

The index does not incorporate explicit input measures such as business costs, cost-of-living components or quality-of-life measures.

Among small cities, Logan, Utah, ranked first nationwide. The only city in New York to rank among the top 10 small cities was Ithaca, Tompkins County, which ranked fifth this year.

Lafayette, La., took the top spot among the biggest decliners nationwide. The city fell 82 spots to 93rd on the index. The Albany metro area was among the big decliners, falling 65 notches to No. 106 this year on the largest metro list.

The Milken Institute noted the improved rankings of some communities can be traced to strong foreign and domestic demand for heavy manufacturing equipment, while logistics activity related to expanded trade with Mexico and Canada helped some metro areas. Growth in health care services and biosciences aided some cities as well.