Tag Archives: money

Queens workers owed $800K in unclaimed back wages: comptroller

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo via Scott Stringer's Facebook page

With Labor Rights Week quickly approaching, City Comptroller Scott Stringer scored a victory for city workers when he found $3.7 million as part of unclaimed prevailing wage settlements with several companies that worked on city-funded projects.

Stringer is now seeking the public’s help in identifying the over 1,000 workers from across the city to whom these funds are owed.

Throughout Queens, 200 individuals are owed nearly $800,000, according to Stringer’s findings.

In Corona, 20 people are owed a total of $117,470.53; Elmhurst has 18 individuals who are owed $74,934.79; and in Maspeth, Ridgewood and Jackson Heights, 14 people from each neighborhood are owed a total of $151,811.21.

“My office has recovered millions of dollars through our enforcement of the prevailing wage, but now we need your help to connect these workers with the money they are owed,” Stringer said. “Thousands of hard-working individuals, many of whom are immigrants, have been cheated out of their rightfully earned wages, but they may not know these funds exist. Help us get the word out about unclaimed wages — recovering thousands of dollars may only be a phone call or email away.”

Stringer’s office is trying to identify those who are owed wages through social media, media partnerships and distribution of informational flyers in several languages including English, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Russian and Creole in neighborhoods throughout the city.

“We’re ramping up our efforts to identify these hard-working men and women who are owed the money they earned,” the comptroller said. “In the coming weeks, we’ll be on the streets, on social media and on the airwaves with a single message: if you’ve been cheated out of your wages, the comptroller’s office has your back. Tell your friends and family: call our hotline or visit our website to see if you are eligible to receive your lost wages.”

The prevailing wage laws require employers to pay workers the wage and benefit rate set annually by the comptroller when those employees work on city public works projects, such as renovating public schools or building service contracts, which includes security guard and custodial work, with city agencies.

Workers who believe they may be entitled to unclaimed wages can call the comptroller’s hotline at 212-669-4443, send in inquiries via email to laborlaw@comptroller.nyc.gov or check the comptroller’s unclaimed wages website.


Queens Boy Scouts need money for historic Normandy trip

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Hedy Debonet

Four Boy Scouts from Queens and about a dozen more in the city need help funding a historic trip to Normandy.

The Boy Scouts of America Greater New York Councils is hoping to give 15 young leaders a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tour Europe and visit France during the 70th Anniversary of D-Day.

Nearly 160,000 American soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 to march across Europe to defeat Hitler at the height of World War II.

“The soldiers who stormed the beach that day are probably no older than the boys we’re taking on this trip,” said Hedy DeBonet, a trip leader from Fresh Meadows.

“This is what we will be showing to the youth on this trip — a reminder of the sacrifices made a generation ago, acknowledgement that freedom is bought at a terrible price,” she added.

Each teen must come up with $2,600 for airfare, hotels and admission fees for nearly a dozen tourist spots, including the Eiffel Tower and the Imperial War Museum.

So far, each Scout has paid for half. But more is needed before the nine-day trip, beginning April 18, DeBonet said.

“There’s so much history that the kids don’t really learn anymore,” she said. “It’s just a real hands-on learning experience.”

Tax deductible checks can be made out to the Greater New York Councils, Boy Scouts of America, at 350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 7820, New York, NY 10118.



Your money has a lifespan, too

| ara@queenscourier.com

(ARA) – Ever tried to calculate how long you might live? How much you’ll need to save for retirement? If you retire at age 65, are you financially prepared to live 30 more years? Or, will you outlive your money?

These are important questions to ask, as Americans are living longer than ever before. In fact, for couples aged 65, there is a 50 percent likelihood the husband or wife will live to age 94, according to the Society of Actuaries. This can mean more years to enjoy retirement – if your money lives as long as you do.

A recent study from Northwestern Mutual took a look at Americans’ financial planning (and saving) habits. The data reveals that many feel financially unprepared to live longer.

Only 56 percent of Americans surveyed say they feel financially prepared to live to age 75. Less than half (46 percent) indicate they feel prepared to live to age 85. And only 36 percent say they feel prepared to live to age 95.

The research also shows that half of Americans take an informal approach to financial planning – if they have a plan at all. Moreover, most feel their planning needs improvement.

“While Americans see the value in setting financial goals, not everyone has plans to achieve them,” said Greg Oberland, Northwestern Mutual executive vice president. “Developing a plan to reach your goals provides confidence that you won’t outlive your savings.”

On the bright side, respondents say they’re taking positive steps to pay down their debt, develop a budget, save a portion of their paycheck regularly, build up an emergency fund and organize financial documents.

“These are good first steps to enhance one’s current financial well-being,” said Oberland. “But looking at these steps in the context of a comprehensive plan (that offers flexibility as circumstances change over time) can help provide long-term financial security.”

In other words, planning can help you manage how long your money lasts. Keep in mind, a prudent plan should work no matter how long you live in retirement.

Here are a few ideas that may help you solidify your financial plans:

1. Consider your own longevity.

Longevity calculators like Northwestern Mutual’s lifespan calculator can help you understand how long you may need your money to last.

2. Reflect on your current state of financial security.

Ask yourself, “Do I feel financially prepared to live a long life?” Then, put your answer into perspective by playing the “Get Your Financial Security Score,” game. The free mobile game (also available on Facebook) awards users with customized financial tips based on responses to a variety of personal finance-related statements.

3. Help your kids develop good “saving” habits early.

Endorsed by the American Library Association as “a great website for kids,” TheMint.org offers games, activities and useful information for kids, as well as meaningful content for parents and teachers. By teaching your children the value of money early on, you reduce the odds they’ll need your financial assistance later in life. That means you can focus on putting more money towards your retirement.

4. Start talking about your personal finances.

Meet with an experienced financial professional who can help tailor a plan to accumulate and protect your financial resources. Consider how your financial plan today can help you build financial security for future life events.


6th District candidates reveal war chests

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Assemblymember Grace Meng has a fundraising edge over her three rivals in the congressional mad dash to the primary finish line, according to the latest figures released by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Meng’s war chest going into the 6th District Democratic primary holds more than $750,000, her camp said, including $390,000 contributions from a combined 663 individuals since April 1.

Assemblymember Rory Lancman has raked in over $500,000 since the beginning of his campaign, including $150,000 of his own funds.

“We’ve got money coming in every day,” said Lancman’s spokesperson Eric Walker.

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley currently ranks third in fundraising totals, with $280,916 and $19,500 in contributions.

Dr. Robert Mittman – a Bayside allergist and the only non-politician candidate in the race – who generated significantly lower totals so far than his rival elected officials. He had roughly $150,000 to advance his run in the home stretch, but of that amount, $100,000 came from his own pockets, his camp said.

“There’s a big difference here,” said Susan Silverman, Mittman’s spokesperson and wife. “[The other candidates] have big money coming in. We don’t have unions. This is a grassroots campaign. We’re going from the bottom up, not the top down.”

The campaign kickoff and fundraising efforts were delayed, Mittman said, and 15 percent of his limited campaign time was knocked off when he had to spend weeks defending petitions both in Queens Supreme Court and the Board of Elections after Lancman challenged them. Mittman cleared the 938 minimum with 1,220 valid signatures.

Now, Silverman said the team is taking a financial hit, especially with the pricey cost of mailers.

“We’re doing the best we can. It’s very, very expensive to send these mailers out. You can’t even believe how much — tens of thousands of dollars. You’re printing up 40,000 pieces or more, plus postage. It’s enormous,” she said. “We started late, but we hope we get the message out. We hope he’s going to be the horse that’ll run them out.”

Meanwhile, Mittman questioned the money-making matters of Meng and Lancman, pointing to reports that say the pair has missed over 75 percent of Assembly votes since they announced their congressional candidacies.

“The taxpayers are footing the bill for their electioneering. This is typical politics as usual. We elected them to do a job. We elected them to represent our area,” Mittman said.

Lancman was not slacking in Albany, Walker said, but instead was engaging in important conversations with voters on major issues.

A spokesperson for Meng said she is “extremely proud” of her recent record — which includes voting to raise the minimum wage and voting to pass DREAM Fund legislation — and has “worked hard to maintain a practical balance between her responsibilities in Albany and her commitment to the voters.”

Meng recently received huge endorsements from the New York Times, New York Post, El Diario, Queens Gazette, Queens Times, the Sierra Club, the New York League of Conservation Voters and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Leadership PAC. But Lancman will walk into the primary touting new boosts from the New York Daily News, Queens Chronicle, Grand Council of Hispanic Societies in Public Service and LaborPress, and Crowley with the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors FDNY Local 2507 and Uniformed EMS Officers Union Local 3621.


Resorts World ups the ante in revenue

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Resorts World

Talk about hitting it big.

The Resorts World Racino announced that the venue topped Las Vegas, Connecticut and Atlantic City, among others, for the most slot machine revenue in May.

The casino brought in $57.5 million last month. Mohegan Sun came in second in May with about $2 million less, according to Racino officials.

About $40 million from this revenue went back into the community, they said, including education and the racing industry. More than $252 million in taxes has been sent back to the state since Resorts World opened its doors eight months ago; $162 million of that amount has been allocated for education spending.

“Resorts World’s model has maximized gaming revenue for New York State in a manner that has not been replicated by any other facility in the nation,” said Michael Speller, president of Resorts World Casino New York City. “We are proud of the incredible revenue Resorts World has generated to support the education of New York’s students and the more than 3,000 jobs we have created for hard-working New Yorkers.”

State Assemblymember J. Gary Pretlow, who is the chair of the Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee, said the education system greatly benefited from this revenue, and any future gambling expansion must continue this, or strengthen, the system.

“As New York State proceeds down the path of full legalized gaming, it is crucial that taxpayers and students not get shortchanged in the process,” Pretlow said. “As evidenced by Resorts World’s May figures, the state’s education system greatly benefits from our current gaming structure. Any changes to that structure must ensure that students get more, not less, of the revenue that gaming brings to the state.”

Where Does Unspent Campaign Money Go?

| kevinj.ryanmail@gmail.com

In this busy political season, candidates struggle to raise funds for their war chests, in the hopes of winning their races. Even with the enormous amount of money needed to mount a political campaign, there is often some left over after the buzzer. What happens to that unspent campaign money?

According to the rules set forth by the Federal and State Election Commissions, candidates’ committees can generally do a variety of things with surplus funds. Whatever they choose to do with it, it must be reported to the applicable commission in accordance with its rules. A surplus amount only exists if there is any money left over after all expenses and debts have been paid.

All expenditures must be filed under one of several general categories. The one universal rule is that the money must not be spent for “personal use.”

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) says that campaign funds may be used in a wide variety of ways, including:

• Moving expenses (including costs associated with “winding down” an office or campaign for a losing candidate)

• Payments to Committee

• Gifts. Campaign funds may be used to purchase gifts or make donations of nominal value to persons other than the members of the candidate’s family.

• Donations to charitable organizations

• Unlimited transfers to any national, state or local political party committee

• Donations to state and local candidates, pursuant to state law

• Returning it to the original donors

• Any other lawful purpose that is not considered a personal use

What constitutes personal use? It’s a murky area, but The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) states that an expenditure is considered personal use “if the contribution or amount is used to fulfill any commitment, obligation, or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign or individual’s duties as a holder of Federal office, including:

(A) a home mortgage, rent, or utility payment;

(B) a clothing purchase;

(C) a non campaign-related automobile expense;

(D) a country club membership;

(E) a vacation or other noncampaign-related trip;

(F) a household food item;

(G) a tuition payment;

(H) admission to a sporting event, concert, theater, or

other form of entertainment not associated with an election campaign; and

(I) dues, fees, and other payments to a health club or recreational facility.”

Similarly, New York State Election Law says that surplus campaign funds may be transferred to a constituted committee or party committee, contributed to a charity, prorated and returned to the donors, or held for use in a subsequent election campaign. Surplus campaign funds may also be used by an elected official for any lawful purpose, including defraying the ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with his or her duties as the holder of an elected office. Contributions may not be converted to personal use not related to political campaign or holding public office or party position.

A candidate could hold on to campaign money for years, as long as he or she is still contemplating another run for office. Expenditures related to keeping that possibility alive, such as parties and dinners, are permissible.

Candidates who receive matching public funds from the government, such as New York City candidates receiving public funds from the Campaign Finance Program of

the New York City Campaign Finance Board, are required to use surplus money to repay public funds to the government. However, it can be a slow and difficult process for the City to collect those funds.

Leaving aside the broader issue of campaign finance, there is always the potential for abuse in reporting surplus expenditures, such as hiding the true purpose of expenditures by filing them under one of the acceptable uses. But given how much time and effort candidates and their committees need to spend to raise funds in even the smallest race, the law gives them latitude on how to spend it.

Let’s hope our Queens leaders and their staff are keeping accurate, open and timely records of the hard-earned money that voters donate to them.


House of the Day: Jamaica Estates Colonial – 5 Bedrooms, 4.5 Bathrooms

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Copyright (C), Multiple Listing Service of Long Island, Inc, 2004

192-05 Randor Rd
Total Taxes: $7,000
List Price: $1,649,000

Colonial, Detached, # Families: 1
9.5 rooms, 5 Bedrooms , 4 Full Baths , 1 Half Baths

School District: Community District 26
Year Built: 1945

Construction: Brick
Lot Size: 72 X 100
Appearance: Diamond

Interior Features
Eat-in kitchen
Dining room: Formal
Den/Family room
Home office
Full Finished Basement
Stove, Washer, Refrigerator, Dishwasher, Dryer
Wood Floors
Fuel/Heat Type: Gas, Ha
A/C: Cac

Contact Info

Solomon Davydov
E-Mail Realtor

Roman .Davydov

Exit Realty First Choice
18032 Union Tpke
Fresh Meadows, NY 11366

Tel: 718-380-2500
Visit Our Website Email Office

Refer to MLS Number 2493729

Help make history: Vote for Queens sites to get grant money

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photos

Five lucky historic Queens venues are in the running to win part of a $3 million grant to support their services and assist in their revitalization.

Through a partnership with American Express, the National Trust for Historic Preservation brought the Partners in Preservation initiative to New York City, which is a plan aimed at providing financial support to protect landmarks and significant sites across the nation.

The Queens sites that made the cut are the Louis Armstrong House Museum, the Queens County Farm Museum, Flushing Town Hall’s building, Astoria Park’s Pool and the Rocket Thrower sculpture in Flushing Meadows- Corona Park.

“We think it’s a terrific opportunity for us and we’re having fun with it,” said Betsy Enright, director of external affairs for the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, which manages events in Flushing Town Hall. “It’s all really for the people of our community, because we’re trying to make our building beautiful.”

Partners in Preservation has traveled around cities throughout the nation each year since 2006 and has donated $6.5 million to preserve American treasures.
With its first stop in the concrete jungle, the program selected 40 buildings or structures around the five boroughs.
Each of the sites submitted a proposal, including an estimated amount of money they require for their projects, and now depend on votes from residents to determine which sites will be funded.

Residents can vote online once per day until May 21, at partnersinpreservation.com. The four winners that receive the most votes will be awarded their grant requests and a special committee will decide how to divide the remaining money among the other sites, based on need and votes.
Flushing Town Hall asked for $260,000 to restore the large Romanesque windows surrounding the building, while the Louis Armstrong House Museum requested $250,000 to preserve the garden.

For some sites like the Queens County Farm Museum, which requires $255,000 to restore the farmhouse, the contest could give the organization more than just money.
“It would mean a great deal,” said Sarah Meyer, director of sales and marketing at the farm.

According to Meyer the farm was established in 1975 and isn’t as well-known or historic as other sites in the contest and doesn’t have as many financial supporters.
“It’s a grant that’s getting a lot of publicity,” Meyer said, adding, “hopefully, a lot more people will become more aware of the Queens County Farm Museum and visit here and support us.”


Click here to cast your vote

FEMA approves $2 million to aid Queens

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Federal aid is on the way for more than a thousand Queens homeowners who applied for help.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved more than $2 million for Queens residents since the county qualified for federal aid last month. Queens was declared a disaster area, allowing individual residents, business owners and non-profits to apply for reimbursement from necessary expenses and compensation from repairs.

The amount approved for individual assistance totaled to $2,051,421, according to FEMA.

The funds may be used to assist residents in finding temporary housing, repairing their damaged homes and vehicles not covered by insurance and replacing personal property — including household items like room furnishings and appliances. The federal aid also covered disaster-related medical and dental costs.

FEMA has received 1,497 applications in Queens so far.

Statewide, FEMA has approved $68,397,939 and has received 35,000 applications.

To register for housing assistance or for more information, call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or visit www.disasterassistance.gov. Be sure to have your social security number and insurance information. Queens homeowners have until October 31 to register.