The "We have had enough" Rally the BUCKS organized in November got the attention of Staten Island's elected officials, the press, media and other business owners. That was the desired result, now working in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce and the Staten Island Economic Development Corp (SIEDC) the BUCKS attended the forum for small businesses presided over by the Borough President James P. Molinaro at the Joan and Alan Bernikow Jewish Community Center, 1466 Manor Rd., at 9 am on March 18, 2011. -- With jobs and the economy the top issues for many on Staten Island, Borough President James P. Molinaro gave a 20 minute presentation on the improvements made under his watch. The good news was that he was able to keep certain businesses on S.I. such as EZ PASS with 200 new jobs added to the already 200 jobs at their new location near the West Shore Expressway. They were considering a move to New Jersey as was Pratt Industries. The work on the freight rail in Holland Hook and the Container Terminal is adding another 150 new jobs. The St George Courthouse is going up and we have a brand new Tourist Info Center at the St. George Ferry. While traffic is a major concern to everyone who drives, 8 intersections have been improved in 4 years. One has to understand
the time-line of getting anything done by the city or the government. There are studies to be made, reports to be filed, sometimes laws to be passed. It all takes time as recommendations goes through the proper channels. Then of course there is finding the money. NYC has a 63 billion budget but only 20 billion can be spent because 22 billion must go to the Dept. of Education. Another 21 billion must go to mandated expenses. Lets look at
the NYC Pension Fund. 8.3 billion is put in by NYC in 2011. In 2000 it was only 1 billion. The pension costs has a 800% increase over ten years because of increased life expectancy, overtime abuse, disability fraud and the fact that in 1983 one gets vested after 10 years, retires at 62 and 3% of salary was contributed to pension throughout career. Since 1999 one is vested after 5 years and can retire at age 57. 4.85% of salary contributed to pension for first 10 years- 1.85 for the rest of career. Funding the existing pension fund affects all taxpayers. Just changing the law so that overtime is not counted in the decision on someones pension amount will save NYC billions. The bad news is that New York's tax burden is $4.845 per capita. 66% above the national average. The WORST of all the states. WE HAVE TO REVERSE THE CYCLE! A well voiced question and answer session followed this mini-State of the Borough Address and communications were opened and in some cases a dialog will be continuing.
Photographed and reported by Flint Gennari