Source: add1sun/Flickr

Attention Sheepshead Bay shoppers, you can now buy higher-priced clothing and footwear tax-free courtesy of the New York State government.

Going into effect yesterday and spanning the next year, New York State has doubled the per-item amount exempt from state sales tax to $110, meaning any items that cost less than $110 will be free of the 4 percent tax the state government levies. For the past year, the maximum was $55 – though it has been up and down since the state first instated the $110 maximum in 2000.

New York City already makes items under $110 exempt, bringing both the city and state in-step. That’s got to make some cashiers happy, eliminating the weird math of charging no tax for items under $55, state tax for items more than $55 and less than $110, and both taxes for items over $110.

So what’s covered by this exemption? Here’s the rundown:

  • Clothing and footwear worn by humans.
  • Most fabric, thread, yarn, buttons, snaps, hooks and zippers.
  • Antique clothing and footwear purchased for human wear and not collector’s items.
  • Belt buckles, handkerchiefs, sweatbands, head scarves and neckwear.
  • Monogramming, application of decals, logos and like items if it is sold in conjunction with the sale of clothing and the price for the item is less than $110 (if separate, monogramming is taxed as a service).

Not exempt:

  • Jewelry, watches and like items.
  • Equipment such as tool belts, hard hats and sport, bicycle and motorcycle helmets.
  • Protective goggles or safety glasses (unless prescription).
  • Sporting equipment.
  • Clothing sold with other taxable merchandise as a single unit (for example, a boxed gift set with dress shirt, cufflinks and a tie tack).
  • Costumes.
  • Rented formal wear.
  •  Fabric, thread, yarn, buttons, snaps, hooks and zippers used to repair taxable items.
  • Handbags, umbrellas, and other accessories.

Other information:

  • Delivery, shipping and handling charges are not taken into account in determining the cost of an item.
  • Manufacturer’s coupons DO NOT reduce the selling price for purposes of determining whether the item is sold for less than $110.
  • Store coupons DO reduce the selling price for determining whether or not the item is taxable.

 

Board of Election workers spent most of last week tallying up hundreds of absentee and affidavit ballots in the race to replace Carl Kruger, with the week ending in a dead heat: Republican David Storobin’s 120 vote lead from election night shrank down to just a single vote.

Both sides challenged their fair share of ballots, though, with the Storobin campaign claiming the Fidler campaign was strategically targeting challenges of ballots cast by voters with Russian-sounding last names – while the Fidler campaign claimed Storobin’s team was doing so towards older Jewish residents. In the end, Storobin’s team had challenged a handful of ballots more than Fidler’s.

Now the count has stopped, as lawyers on both sides have agreed to let the courts resolve the count. According to Politicker’s Colin Campbell:

The judge has appointed two “Special Referees” to hear ballot objections made by both sides on the contested absentee votes (i.e. one campaign may believe signature similarity on certain ballots indicates the votes were fraudulent).

On April 4th, the judge will review the Special Referees’ findings.

This could either close the book on the election by officially placing one of the candidates above the 110 vote threshold needed to avoid a full hand recount, or set the stage for such a recount where campaigns and the courts review all 20,000 ballots cast in this election.

With any luck, district residents may enjoy the privilege of representation in the State Senate for a week or two before the seat is eliminated entirely.

A message from the Sheepshead Bay-Plumb Beach Civic Association:

In State Senate District 27, the shenanigans just keep on coming.

Following the resignation of State Senator Carl Kruger, and the same pol’s guilty plea to charges of taking nearly $1 million in bribes, and then his would-be successors’ brutish campaigns… well, following all that and more, the Daily News has now learned that state-owned furniture and equipment used by Kruger’s staff has vanished.

A new mystery surrounds disgraced former Sen. Carl Kruger: What happened to all his state-owned office furniture and equipment?

When the Senate GOP majority did an inventory of the crooked pol’s old Brooklyn district office, they found that several swivel chairs, a couch, two air conditioners and desk lamps were among 30 missing items, sources said.

“The desks were all there, but no chairs,” one astounded source said. “We don’t know where the things are.”

Though they’d been stripping signage for months, no one expected the same was happening inside the 2201 Avenue U district office, which officially cleared out around the same time as the March 20 special election.

Senate Republicans say they may call police about the missing furniture.

370 Jay Street. Source: Google Maps

THE COMMUTE: In New York, MTA means Metropolitan Transportation Authority. In the 1970s and 80s, critics claimed it really meant “More Trouble Ahead” with frequent announcements of projects coming in over budget and behind schedule. In the years since, little has changed. More recently, we have been plagued with: fare and toll hikes, service cutbacks, and the state stealing money from the MTA.

In The Commute, I have highlighted where the MTA has not spent its limited funds wisely:

Expensive projects, such as East Side Access and the Fulton Transit Center, have also had its critics wondering if the work scope could be narrowed, thus enabling the work completed to be quicker and at lower costs. Former MTA Chairman Jay Walder was the first to admit that perhaps the MTA is not as efficient as it can be. He took steps to streamline administrative expenses instead of merely looking toward the fare, more borrowing and service cuts to plug the MTA’s budget problems. His motto was “making every dollar count.” He also pledged more accountability. Current MTA Chairman Joe Lhota claims to be continuing where Walder left off when he broke his contract last year, and hastily departed for more lucrative employment in the Far East.

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The Q train at night.

Photo by Tinx Chan

 
After driving by countless times, and scheduling the Friday puzzle for Sheepshead Bites for nearly a year, I am a little surprised that this is the first time I ever received a photo of the conspicuous blue building on the corner of Coney Island Avenue and Avenue Y, the first floor of which, incidentally, houses the business of our venerable Telling Tips columnist, Joseph S. Reisman, whose sage financial and legal advice I confess I miss very much. Come on, tax season! Hurry up and end already!

A terrific photo, as usual, from Allan Shweky

 

Source: Google Maps

In an effort to offload defunct properties and reduce overhead, the MTA has issued a Request for Proposals from developers to rehabilitate and put to use seven defunct properties around the city – including an old electrical substation in Midwood.

Located at 851 East 15th Street, near Avenue I, the 7,920 square foot property is located mid-block, just before the footbridge spanning the open cut railroad line that crosses Brooklyn. It abuts the tracks for the B/Q Brighton line, and has been a haven for graffiti and illegal dumping for years.

Now that property, located in an R5 zoning district, is hitting the market – likely for a residential development.

The RFP comes after a year of reviewing the MTA’s real estate assets in an effort to increase revenue and reduce costs.

“Given the current financial picture facing the MTA, we have an imperative. We must do anything and everything we can to raise revenue and reduce costs in order to minimize the need to turn to fares, tolls and taxes,” said MTA Chairman Joseph J. Lhota. “Our real estate department is pursuing that imperative by thoroughly reviewing our real estate holdings and identifying properties that we could potentially offer for sale or lease. Finding properties that we own but don’t need in order to operate service is not an easy task. In fact, most of the properties that fell into that category have been sold off long ago by our public and private predecessors.”

The MTA and New York City Economic Development Corporation will accept proposals for about a year, with four deadlines beginning on June 29. Details can be found on the EDC’s website.

The other properties up for development are:

  • 19 East Houston Street in SoHo.
  • Gun Hill Road and I-95.
  • 351 East 139th Street in Mott Haven, Bronx.
  • 707 East 211th Street in Williamsbridge, Bronx.
  • 379 Van Sinderen Avenue, East New York.
  • 103-54 99th Street in Ozone Park, Queens.

If not a residential development, what would you like to see in that location?

New York City Comptroller John Liu joined the Be Proud Foundation yesterday afternoon, as the organization handed out more than 500 bags of kosher food in advance of Passover.

It was the third year in a row in which Be Proud organized the event, hosted by Aqua Health Rehabilitation Center at 2753 Coney Island Avenue. The group gave out Aqua Health tote bags stuffed with matzoh, Kedem grape juice, macaroons and other traditional Passover goodies, to a crowd dominated by seniors hailing from the former Soviet Union.

“Passover is the best time for us to show that we care about our neighbors,” said Raisa Chernina, founder of the Be Proud Foundation. “By giving out food we are going to share our happiness with those people who count on us more than ever in this current economic climate.”

We weren’t able to make it to Manhattan Beach Community Group’s March meeting this week because of a scheduling conflict, but the group posted a roundup of the meeting on its website. The update notes that the group voted to oppose a proposal to reduce alternate side parking hours in the community that would have made parking more available.

They wrote:

The MBCG overwhelmingly rejected the proposal to change the hours and days of alternate side parking in Manhattan Beach. A motion had been made at a recent Community Board 15 Meeting to cut the days and hours. Nearly everyone felt this was not the solution to help our neighbors who live near the College.

The proposal came about during Community Board 15′s January meeting, when Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association President Dr. Alan Ditchek – a member of Community Board 15′s executive board – requested a motion to reduce the hours. However, Ditchek later rescinded the motion, according to Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo, and both groups are in agreement that the increased parking availability is not worth trading off clean streets.