Long Island Business Council

Long Island Business Council Tackles Downtown Energy Programs, Taxes

The Long Island Business Council held a meeting this past week with both Nassau and Suffolk County Presiding Officers in attendance to give updates on what the Counties are doing to promote small business on Long Island.

The meeting opened with a welcome and the pledge of allegiance before Nassau County Executive Laura Curran gave opening remarks reflecting on her first 100 days in office.  The County Executive stated that she’s enjoying the challenge of the new position and is looking into how best to create wealth and opportunity in the County.  Curran touted the newly authorized bipartisan tax assessment bill, the newly reconstituted board for Nassau County’s IDA, and also gave an update on the first meeting of the Nassau HUB advisory task force.

“We have a newly constituted (IDA) board,” said Executive Curran, “with protocols, procedures, and policies to lend to more accountability and transparency so that when we have our communities investing in our businesses, in our development, that the community is going to get something out of it.”

The Presiding Officers were next with Nassau County’s Richard Nicolello speaking first.  Legislator Nicolello’s address also included a mention of the recently approved tax assessment as well.  He also acknowledged legislation currently being proposed to create an internet sales tax for NY.  However, Nicollelo indicated that while he understands the loss of revenue from not having such a tax, he won’t support the bill since Republicans in the NYS Senate are opposed.  He also laid some of the blame for Nassau’s fiscal situation on Medicaid costs, which the state requires partial payments on from local municipalities.

“We share the same ideas and concepts in terms of economic development,” said Presiding Officer Nicolello, “in terms of smart growth, transit oriented development, affordable housing where it can fit into a development plan.  We’re proud of the idea that the IDA is moving forward as well.”

Suffolk County Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory was up next and also spoke on the internet sales tax.  He stated that around $11 million in online sales tax isn’t being collected and should be considered lost revenue.  He also touched on the strength of business in Suffolk County and how numerous programs are being implemented to increase communication between government and business owners.  Part of this includes his series of forums, Charting the Course, that are designed to bring new ideas from business directly to local leaders.

“A few years ago I thought that as a legislature we’re not doing enough to do outreach to small business community,” said Legislator Gregory.  “We wanted to hold forums that encourage them to do business with the County.  But as legislators we play an integral part with our local economy.  It is important that we have a big development plan and a strategy to do outreach and provide those services.”

The issue of internet sales tax is one that the Long Island Lobby Coalition has been working to correct in Albany for several years now.  The Coalition supports the leveling of the playing field in order to make sure that both local and online businesses are playing by the same rules and are not given an unfair advantage.

John Keating from PSEG Long Island was the final featured speaker, talking about the numerous programs that PSEG Long Island has implemented to help small business.  A major part of that is the Vacant Space Revival program, which aims to help out small businesses that are just getting started.  The program provides discounts that decrease as a business goes through its first year of operation.  He also talked about the Main Street Revival program, which provides grants to new businesses that are looking to open in downtown areas on Long Island.  This is in addition to standard energy efficiency programs that PSEG LI has been implementing for years.

“Small businesses are a major driver of the Long Island economy,” Keating said. “We’re trying to get the word out about the programs that can help them.”

The meeting provided updates from John Cameron from the Long Island Regional Planning Council, previewing a report on taxation for the region; Michael Harrison on his white paper on the internet sales tax;  Francesca Carlow from the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce’s spoke of efforts to shop local.  Finally, Gina Coletti, co-chair of the Suffolk Alliance of Chambers, gave a brief update on her organization’s recent efforts and the next quarterly meeting.

You can read more in LI Business News here.