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Cuomo: Two Auburn companies awarded low-cost power for expansion projects

The state is awarding low-cost power to two Auburn companies advancing multi-million-dollar expansion projects. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the power allocations Thursday. The New York Power Authority, through the ReCharge New York program, will allocate 310 kilowatts to Currier Plastics and 30 kilowatts to Copper John Corporation, both Auburn manufacturers. 

Nearly 30 companies and organizations will receive low-cost power in the latest round of allocations, according to the governor's office. The power will support $1.4 billion in investment and the projects are expected to create more than 1,000 new jobs. 

Cuomo touted the Recharge NY program as an initiative that has helped boost economic development throughout the state. 

"Not only has the low-cost program supported hundreds of thousands of workers, but it continues to create new jobs and encourage growth across New York," he said. 

The power will help the two Cayuga County businesses as they proceed with expansion plans. 

Currier Plastics is in the early stages of a $9.9 million expansion that will enable the company to increase its medical supply portfolio. The project will include the purchase of a 165,000-square-foot building and new equipment to expand its manufacturing operations. 

The Central New York Regional Economic Development Council endorsed the expansion as one of its priority projects for the seventh round of the state competition. The region was one of the top performer award winners announced earlier this month. 

With the win, Currier Plastics will receive a $1.8 million state grant and $180,000 in tax credits linked to job creation goals. 

The $1.4 million expansion proposed by Copper John Corporation, an archery accessories manufacturer, was also a priority project for the regional council. The company was awarded a $280,000 grant and $100,000 in tax credits to assist with the purchase of new equipment. 

Copper John Corporation wants to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. The company outsources some of its production to China. By adding new equipment and reconfiguring its State Street facility, owners Doug and Eric Springer plan to retain six employees and create 12 new jobs. 

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Owner of Osteria Salina in Auburn opens new restaurant at Destiny USA

The owner of the downtown Auburn eatery Osteria Salina recently opened a familiar restaurant at Destiny USA in Syracuse: Bambino's Bistro. 

Bambino's called Auburn home for about eight years until owner Guillermo Salina decided to close the bistro to focus on Osteria Salina, which opened in 2013. 

"It was time to move on," Salina said of the Auburn Bambino's location. "I believe every restaurant has a cycle."

Since closing Bambino's in Auburn two years ago, Salina said he had been looking for the perfect location to reopen the restaurant. He said his new location in the mall, on the third floor across from Funny Bones Comedy Club, is the spot he has been searching for. The restaurant opened Dec. 19. 

Food is the main focus of Bambino's Bistro, with a menu featuring southern Italian cuisine, such as homemade pasta and ravioli. And once the establishment obtains a liquor license from the New York State Liquor Authority, customers will be able to bring their own bottles of wine. However, the restaurant will not serve its own alcohol.   

Salina described the Syracuse Bambino's as "a little more upscale than the original." The restaurant is "very modern," he said, with an open-concept design featuring lighting and bright colors. 

"It makes you feel like you're in the city," he said. 

Salina noted that Bambino's is one of only two family-owned restaurants at Destiny USA. He said he hopes to "bring a change to Destiny" by giving people the option to support local businesses instead of big chain restaurants. 

"Bambino's has always been something special for me," he said. "I love what we do." 

Cuomo: NY to join national wireless broadband network for first responders

New York will join a nationwide communications network for first responders, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday.

The state will opt into the First Responder Network Authority program known as FirstNet, a federal government partnership with AT&T that established a nationwide wireless broadband network for public safety agencies, include fire and police departments. 

FirstNet is overseen by the U.S. Department of Commerce and created with the goal of improving communications between first responders. 

AT&T will build the secure wireless broadband communications network at no cost to the state, according to Cuomo's office. The network will expand coverage in some of the most remote areas of the state, such as the Adirondacks. The network will extend to urban areas and along waterways, including the Great Lakes and the Long Island Sound. 

"During emergencies and disasters, every second counts, and ensuring our first responders have the tools they need during a crisis is vital to the safety and security of all New Yorkers," Cuomo said. 

New York's participation in the network will help state and local agencies. FirstNet will help with the response to natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other emergency situations. It will also aid state and local entities during major events, such as the New York City Marathon and the New York State Fair. 

FirstNet was developed in response to the 9/11 attacks. There were numerous communication issues on Sept. 11, 2001. There was damage to critical communications infrastructure and the network was overloaded. 

The First Responder Network Authority was created in 2012. Most states have opted into the program. The lone holdouts, according to FirstNet's website, are California, Florida and New Hampshire. 

Stephen Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties, said the state's participation in FirstNet will improve communication for state and local public safety agencies. 

"Many of our county 911 dispatchers, law enforcement and police/fire are the first responders who will be working on this network and provide the services needed to secure the safety of those throughout our state," Acquario said. 

IRS: Prepaid property taxes might not be eligible for deductions

It's not clear if Cayuga County residents who choose to pay their property taxes early will be eligible for deductions, despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive order authorizing municipalities to accept early and partial payments.

In a press release Wednesday, the Internal Revenue Service said prepaid 2018 state and local real property taxes in 2017 may be tax deductible, but only under certain circumstances. 

"In general, whether a taxpayer is allowed a deduction for the prepayment of state or local real property taxes in 2017 depends on whether the taxpayer makes the payment in 2017 and the real property taxes are assessed prior to 2018," according to the release. "A prepayment of anticipated real property taxes that have not been assessed prior to 2018 are not deductible in 2017."

Cuomo signed the order with the intent that taxpayers could take advantage of state and local tax, or SALT, deductions. The move was in response to a recent federal tax bill, which caps federal SALT deductions at $10,000.

The order also allows taxpayers to make partial payments until Dec. 31, a move Cayuga County officials were distressed about in the past due to the administrative hassle. 

"Tax collection is happening at the town’s and in the city (not at the County) so how each collector handles the partial payment clause will be up to that municipality to navigate," said Cayuga County Director of Real Property Kelly Anderson, in an email to The Citizen.

County and town officials scrambled to come into compliance with the executive order over the holiday weekend after it was issued Friday afternoon. Bills were available online by Tuesday, according to a county release.

Cayuga County Attorney Fred Westphal said the county came into compliance to the best of its ability. He declined comment on whether the IRS would consider the prepayments tax deductible, noting a sentence in the county's earlier press release that said, "It should be noted that any commentary here should not be construed as legal or tax accounting advice."

Madelyn Hornstein, a certified public accountant and chief executive officer of Dermody Burke & Brown, said she is mostly encouraging her clients to pay early. 

"I think what's going to happen is they're going to have to come out with technical corrections to what President Trump signed," Hornstein said. "I'm erring on the side of telling my clients to prepay because I don't think it could hurt them."

The people this order would not benefit, Hornstein said, are people who pay an alternative minimum tax. According to the IRS, "certain tax benefits can significantly reduce a taxpayer's regular tax amount. The alternative minimum tax (AMT) applies to taxpayers with high economic income by setting a limit on those benefits." 

Hornstein added that based on what she's read and heard, she believes the IRS will allow these prepayments to be eligible for deductibles.

"Right now, a lot of people, municipalities, are mailing out the tax statements that people would normally pay in January," she said. "People, for as long as I can remember, have been prepaying those statements that they get right here at the end of this month for next year, so I don't think the IRS is going to take away that normal practice of people prepaying something that they would be paying in January anyways."