KEEPING LIGHTS ON IN MIDVILLE
Senator Calls For Power Grid Changes
Changing the energy grid of Middle Village to reduce power outages during severe weather events was an idea pitched by a local lawmaker to residents at the Middle Village Property Owners/Residents Association (MVPORA) meeting on Monday night, Nov. 12, at St. Margaret Parish Hall.
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo told the audience that he would push Con Edison to improve the power network in the neighborhood once the utility company has completed repairs and ended outages caused by Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 29.
“On a strong wind, we lose power in parts of Middle Village,” the senator said. Thousands of customers around the neighborhood were thrown in the dark during the storm as a result of overhead lines which were downed by the wind or fallen trees.
Specifically, he stated that he would request that Con Edison replace large transformers around Middle Village with smaller devices, thus subdividing the community’s power grid. Addabbo stated that this method was previously installed in Howard Beach and helped reduce the number of outages there during the storm.
“Instead of one transformer handling a number of blocks, they broke it into smaller transformers, so that if a section did go out, it was a smaller section,” Addabbo said. “We’re finding that it’s less likely that these areas go out in Howard Beach because the power is shared among smaller transformers.”
“When it calms down for Con Ed a bit, we’re going to ask them to take a look at Middle Village and see if they can break down the transformers so we can have less blackouts” here, the senator added.
Of the response to Sandy itself, Addabbo charged that local governments and utility companies must be better prepared in advance to respond to such weather events, which come on several days’ notice.
“We need to learn from Hurricane Sandy. We’re finding out that 10 or 12 days after the storm, the response has been very late,” he stated. “We need to learn, because more than likely, this isn’t the last storm that we’re going to have.”
Brush up on tax laws
Salvatore Candela—MVPORA president and owner of The TaxAdvocate Group, which assists individuals with tax issues—provided a refresher course on changes individuals can expect when they file their returns next year.
More than 4,400 changes have been made to federal tax laws over the last decade, Candela said in emphasizing the importance of the public to be informed about their obligations. Many deductions and tax credits hang in the balance in the next several weeks, he added, as Congress and the president work to hammer out a financial deal before an automatic set of tax hikes and spending cuts dubbed the “fiscal cliff” take effect on Jan. 1, 2013.
Among some of the changes taxpayers can expect to see when they file in 2013 are the following:
• The federal estate tax exemption amount, which is $5.12 million in 2012, is scheduled to be reduced to $1 million in 2013. Any estate above that amount will be subject to a 55 percent tax from the federal governwaiting ment, he explained.
• The annual gift tax exemption will increase by $1,000 in a year, from $13,000 per recipient in 2012 to $14,000 per recipient in 2013. Candela observed that this presents “a good opportunity” for many investors.
• All unearned income up to $250,000 per individual and $500,000 per married couple will be subject to a 3.8 percent Medicare tax next year. The medical expense deduction threshold will also rise from 7.5 percent to 10 percent for individuals under 65 years of age.
Candela also told residents that he expects that President Obama and Congress will ultimately approve some kind of tax hike, though at this point, it is not clear as to how that will be accomplished. Some of the ideas being considered are increasing capital gains taxes on dividends and eliminating the “Bush tax cuts” for individuals making above a certain amount of annual earned income.
“There is one guarantee: taxes will be going up in 2013,” he said.
For those with investments, the civic president advised them to meet with their broker and review their portfolio before making any decisions to buy or sell stock. He also noted that municipal bonds may be a wise investment, as the bonds are exempt from the 3.8 percent Medicare tax.
Candela lamented the cancellation of the Queens Veterans Day Parade along Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village as a result of logistical issues related to Hurricane Sandy. Though it was “a very hard decision” for the parade committee to make, he noted, the panel opted instead to use its resources to provide relief for the victims of the storm in southern Queens.
Donated items were brought by the committee to a VFW post in Broad Channel for distribution to residents in need, Candela said. The Queens Veterans Day Parade will return to Middle Village next year.
The MVPORA did its part to contribute to the ongoing hurricane relief effort by approving a donation of $500 to purchase turkeys for families in southern Queens so they may celebrate Thanksgiving. The group also voted to donate $250 to the Kiwanis Club of Middle Village for its second annual food drive benefiting local families in need.
Finally, the civic association also approved a $150 donation to the Middle Village Chamber of Commerce for its annual holiday light display along Metropolitan Avenue.
The next Middle Village Property Owners/Residents Association meeting is scheduled to take place on Monday night, Dec. 10, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Margaret Parish Hall, located on 79th Place south of Juniper Valley Road.