Sales tax revenue for local governments in New York state rose by 49.2% in the second quarter (April to June 2021) compared to the same period last year, a dramatic increase from last year’s weak collections during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
Sales tax collections during this period grew by just over $1.6 billion and even surpassed collections reported during the second quarter of 2019, before the onset of the pandemic.
“The strength of these collections, along with federal aid, will give local governments statewide the chance to improve their fiscal stability, but it will take time to recover from the strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” DiNapoli said in a media release. “While this is good news, local leaders are advised to budget carefully. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to always plan for unpredictable circumstances.”
The size of the increase largely reflects extremely weak collections in the April to June period of 2020. However, even compared to pre-pandemic collections for the same period in 2019, statewide collections in 2021 were up 8.7% or $396 million.
Consider where we were this time last year, at what would usually constitute Major League Baseball’s “Mid-Summer Classic” All-Star Game break, the abbreviated 2020 season had yet to begin.
Delayed for three-and-half months by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 season did not begin until July 23, cancelling the All-Star Game for the first time since 1945, when the game was called on account of wartime travel restrictions.
A shadowy 60-game season was played without fans in attendance, replaced by cardboard cutout photographs and piped in crowd noise reminiscent of a television sitcom laugh track.
Except it wasn’t funny and it wasn’t much fun.
But the game plodded on all the way through the post season. The Los Angeles Dodgers finally won the World Series after capturing eight straight National League West division titles.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday, June 15, that he will ending most COVID restrictions affecting businesses, after hitting the threshhold 70% of New Yorkers vaccinated with at least one dose.
As a result, concerts, sports, nights clubs and other businesses can return to normal operations without the need for social distancing, masks or limits on capacity.
“It means we can return to life as we know it,” Cuomo said at a press conference in front of One World Trade Center in Manhattan. “We have the highest vaccination rate in the country.”
Businesses can now set their own rules on vaccine passes and social distancing.
Separately, the city of Oneonta announced that all public buildings will be open to the public again as of Monday, June 14.
State Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, said he welcomed the news but was critical of Cuomo in a statement.
“Is he lifting the state’s emergency declaration and ending his extraordinary powers?” Oberacker said. “Once again, the governor makes grand claims and leaves everyone scrambling to sort out the details.”
In May, I watched baseball and softball games across the county.
I saw a cross section of residents, from at least four local communities, most of whom I had not seen for at least 18 months, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some people I had not seen for much longer, because I had been away from sports.
This is probably the least controversial statement I will ever make on the editorial page, and I will let my Southern voice make for effect: it is good to see all y’all.
One of the things the coronavirus pandemic has taken away from us is community. I can understand why it was hard on parishioners when churches were on remote services, because community is a big part of religious groups’ virtues.
The same could be said for sports and arts in the community. I know for us there are plenty of people we mostly see during soccer seasons and have now seen little of for two springs and a fall.
Occasionally we bump into people at the store, or I see a solo family member at a newspaper-related event, but it hasn’t been the same.
Although COVID is starting to fade in Otsego County with towns such as Cooperstown and Oneonta lifting mask restrictions, the same cannot be said for many countries such as Nepal.
Zak Aldridge, who was born in Cooperstown, went to Milford Central School and considers himself an “honorary Oneontan,” said he didn’t intend to stay in Nepal for more than a year, but COVID-19 changed his plans.
He said he planned on staying there for two weeks. That was 15 months ago.
“I was planning to come to check out a school over here that I was thinking of coming to study languages and Buddhism,” Aldridge said. “And the lockdown happened and I wound up getting stuck. That was a year ago.”
Aldridge, who is a Columbia University graduate, has decided to help feed families in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu, which is currently under a strict lockdown, causing day laborers to suffer from malnutrition.
Cooperstown Dreams Park is set to open Friday, July 23, without masks or any guidelines on social distancing, according to the park’s website.
However, a vaccine will be required for participating children and adults.
The opening will include no restrictions on high fiving or other physical contact, as well as face-to-face pin and baseball card training.
The 2021 baseball camp is set to go through August.
Dreams Park gives participants a chance to play in tournaments, visit the Baseball Hall of Fame and watch baseball games at Doubleday Field.
According to their website, Dreams Park gets approximately 500,000 visitors per year, hosting teams for 13 weeks of tournaments. However, it was closed last year because of the coronavirus pandemic and had earlier in the year put its season in doubt when it issued guidelines for campers requiring vaccinations.
For more information, call 704-630-0050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Community Foundation of Otsego County is up and running and wants you to join us as one of our Founders.
We are OF the community, FOR the community, and want to do everything in our power to improve the quality of life for all residents of Otsego County. We also want to live by our values which include taking direction from the community we serve.
The concept of forming a philanthropic organization to serve one’s community is not new. There are over 750 community foundations across the nation. Successful foundations exist in New York counties to our north, east, south and west. The essential difference between a community foundation and a more common private foundation is that we are a public enterprise. Our funding is from our public and our responsibility is to our public – our friends and neighbors.
Many of the successful community foundations in our region of New York have taken decades to grow to the level where they are able to make a difference. Small but sure steps. One dollar at a time, invested so that spending was limited to earnings at the rate of 4 or 5% per year. The early emphasis was on asset building.
This is an important strategy and one that we are working on too. But we want to make a difference NOW. How can we do that?
Our approach is to raise seed capital that we are willing to invest in our community instead of in the stock market. Thus, our Founders Campaign is to secure $2 million. These funds will be used over the next five years, while our other strategy (accumulating investment assets) is pursued to secure our future sustainability.
Ours is a modern model. It borrows from the world of venture capital and private equity. It is founded on the bedrock confidence that our community will support our work. It is responsive to today’s needs.
The formation of Community Foundation of Otsego County is a vitally important step in the health of our county. It is an opportunity for neighbors and friends to join together to work smartly to address issues that need addressing.
We hope that many of you decide to join us as Founders. The amount of your support is up to you. We want broad participation. We have made it easy to join us. Send us a check. Make a five-year pledge (to match our five-year business plan). Donate appreciated stock or real estate. Use your credit card or Pay Pal.
Set up a monthly or annual payment program. Go to our website to get more information (cfotsego.org). Or simply mail us a check to P.O. Box 55, Springfield Center, NY 13468.
How are we doing so far, you ask? Well, our goal is $2 million. Today, we are 90% of the way to that target. Our entire board has joined as Founders as well as more than 100 others.
And are we making a difference now? Absolutely yes!
Our COVID Emergency Fund disbursed $200,000 in 27 awards. We have helped families put food on their tables, provided shelter to homeless individuals, supported over 100 small businesses and much more.
In 2021, we have allocated another $200,000 to meet challenges facing our community.
Please visit our website for details on our award programs.
Will you join us as a Founder? This is a once only opportunity to be part of a group of like-minded friends and neighbors dedicated to creating a force for good in our community.
We deeply believe that caring together makes us stronger together.
Carol Lachance and Mike Lachance were presented with an “Outstanding Seniors of the Community” recognition from the Office of the Aging in an award announced Monday, May 3.
“It is truly an honor and very much a surprise,” Carol said.
The Lachances run the Cooperstown Senior Community Center in the recreation center of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church at 31 Elm St. in Cooperstown. Mike said that he didn’t really expect the award, but he wants to use it to promote the senior center.
“Seniors want to feel that somebody cares about them,” Mike said. “It really revives them.”
COVID-19 has affected everybody, but no group has been as impacted like senior citizens. The pandemic has affected the senior population disproportionately compared to other age groups with 85% of deaths occurring to those 65 or older, according to 2020 statistics from the New York Department of Health.
The center has been taking steps to help seniors affected by the pandemic, including those dealing with increased social isolation.
From: Sochie Nnaemeka and TeAna Taylor. special to the Utica Observer-Dispatch.
There’s no doubt that Albany is undergoing a transformation.
Voters across the state turned out in record numbers to elect Democratic and Working Families champions to the Legislature last year, winning super-majorities in both houses. And this April, the results were made clear: New York passed a budget that provides historic funding to our public school students, tenants, immigrants and Black and brown communities. We legalized cannabis for adults with provisions to ensure the benefits are shared by the communities directly impacted by the drug war. And we finally passed the HALT Solitary Confinement Act to restrict the use of “the box” in prisons and replace it with safe, humane alternatives. Electing progressive leaders is helping to deliver a future for New York rooted in equity and justice.
As we come down the final stretch of the legislative session, our elected leaders must resist complacency and continue to deliver long-overdue changes to our criminal justice systems that New Yorkers have been demanding.
Family members of incarcerated people, community leaders, and criminal justice advocates call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to grant emergency clemencies to older people in prison and others with compromised immune systems in response to the death of a person incarcerated at Sing Sing Correctional Facility who tested positive for COVID-19 April 3, 2020 outside the prison in Ossining, New York. Juan Mosquero was the first incarcerated person with the virus to die in a state prison.