TIMELINES 11/14/13

County Executive pushes for property tax exemptions for vets
In line with a recent announcement from the State Attorney General, both state and local officials have acted to ensure recent veterans receive a valuable property tax exemption which had been subject to some confusion. County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef was notified by the New York State Attorney General’s office that though an ambiguity of language suggested veterans of recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not eligible for the 15 percent property tax discount, the language of the law does not suggest ineligibility. In effect, not only are recent veterans able to receive tax savings, but they are also eligible for an additional 10 percent discount if they served in a combat zone, a 25 percent value in total. To clear up the ambiguity, the Attorney General’s office notified county property tax officials across the state that recent veterans were eligible. In Rockland, Vanderhoef contacted Rockland County Real Property Tax Services Officer Sean Matthews and directed him to notify local tax assessors about the exemption.

New York sex offender registry will now display multiple photos of offenders
New regulations affecting the New York State Sex Offender Registry will now require more information on offenders to aid law enforcement, including additional photographs. The state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) will now post multiple photos of offenders in its Registry and online subdirectory with the eventual goal of showcasing multiple photographs of each offender. The expansion is meant to make sex offenders more recognizable to law enforcement and the general public, prevent reoffending and better identify suspects after offenses. The DCJS currently manages profiles for 36,336 sex offenders in New York State. Offenders are classified as low, medium and high risk, with medium and high risk offenders’ information posted on the subdirectory. All offenders must periodically update their photo identification for the registry.

New York veteran to be honored with postage stamp
A World War II veteran from New York who almost singlehandedly fought off attacking German enemies and rescued fellow soldiers was honored with a commemorative postage stamp, one of twenty celebrating the heroic actions of Medal of Honor recipients. Francis S. Currey, a native of Loch Sheldrake, New York, fought at Malmedy in Belgium with the Army’s 120th Infantry Division when his position was overrun by German tanks. With the help of companions who provided direction and cover fire, he launched rockets and manned a heavy machine gun aboard a half track, destroying one tank, driving crews from others and forcing a German retreat while five American soldiers who had been pinned down escaped to safety. For his part in driving back the attack, Currey was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award available to an American service member. His face will appear on a U.S. Postal Service’s commemorative Medal of Honor: World War II Prestige Folio Forever stamp along with other World War II award recipients.

County Executive race illustrates a divided county
The 2013 County Executive Race is over, but the divisions highlighted by the race appear stark, presenting a unique challenge for Executive-elect Ed Day, who is tasked with uniting the county under his administration. An interactive map posted by the Journal News plotted out voter turnouts for Republican Ed Day and his Democratic opponent David Fried, showing regionalized centers of support. Though there were hotly-contested areas-including one district in Pomona where the candidates tied-there were also large areas where support for one candidate was noticeably strong. Fried’s support came primarily from districts in East Ramapo, where he commanded the religious bloc vote in areas such as Monsey and New Square by netting overwhelmingly decisive voter margins. However, Fried also received strong support from traditionally Democratic river towns such as Nyack, Haverstraw and Piermont, as well as pockets of Thiells and Tappan. Meanwhile, Day commanded almost all of Clarkstown as well as large sections of Orangetown, West Ramapo and North Rockland outside of Haverstraw. He also succeeded in breaking up the solidity of Fried’s support in North Rockland with a narrow win in Haverstraw’s 15th District and even broke into a few districts in Northern Ramapo.

AARP warns of spike in heating costs
The AARP released a report on Monday warning of a potential 13 percent spike in heating costs this year, an increase which could pose a risk for seniors on fixed incomes. The report reveals that though oil heating rates are expected to drop two percent, natural gas heating might see a 13 percent increase. This represents annual gas bills which average $679 for natural gas users and $2,046 for oil users. The increase poses a problem for low income Rocklanders, particularly senior citizens who often struggle to pay rising utility costs. According to the AARP, 60 percent of New Yorkers over the age of 50 consider it difficult to pay for heating. Programs are available to aid those who struggle with heating bills. Households which make less than $2,175 per month are eligible for the Home Energy Assistance Program, which provides anywhere from $400 to $600 to assist with heating costs. Application for the program begins on November 18 and awards are provided on a first-come-first-serve basis.

One World Trade Center named nation’s tallest building
After months of deliberations, a panel of architects decided on Tuesday morning that One World Trade Center is officially the nation’s tallest building. The Height Committee of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat concluded the new building, which stands at 1,776 feet tall, outstrips Chicago’s Willis (Formerly Sears) Tower, which stands at 1,451 feet tall. Judging architects took an unexpectedly long time to make a decision due to a conflict over whether the top of the skyscraper was a “spire” or an “antenna,” which would have affected the building’s official height, making it only 1,368 feet tall. The Center, which is finally set for opening in 2014 after years of disputes among architects and developers, has already leased 3 million square feet of office space. Though the economic slowdown has impacted interest from potential tenants, the building is expected to fill up in time.