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Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A lawsuit seeking $116.9 million has been filed against Suffolk County on behalf of an estimated 340,000 residents of the county’s Southwest Sewer District No. 3, claiming that the county has “illegally overtaxed owners of real estate” in violation of four public referenda that called for surpluses to be returned.According to the law firms of Paul Sabatino II and Reilly, Like and Tenety, Suffolk officials have not complied with the requirements that voters had approved by public referendum in 1983, 1989, 1995 and 2006. Filed in New York State Supreme Court earlier this month, the lawsuit asks the court to grant class action status “to protect all taxpayers in the district, not just those who can afford the cost of litigation.” The 57-square-mile district covers Babylon, Islip and a sliver of Huntington.“By holding on to this money, Suffolk County has knowingly thwarted the will of the people, as expressed by the voters on four separate occasions,” said Sabatino, who was County Executive Steve Levy’s chief deputy from 2004 to 2007 and former counsel to the Suffolk County Legislature for almost 20 years before that. “The purpose of the lawsuit is to enforce the will of the people and return the $116.9 million to the taxpayers.”The attorneys say the targeted total amount consists of the 2013 surplus fund balance of $35,177,582, the 2014 surplus fund balance of $42,265,864 and the 2015 fund balance of $39,5236,337. Instead of returning these fund balances to the taxpayers as required, the attorneys allege, the county put the monies in a fund known as Fund 405, which they describe as “an illegal fund…used by the county as a subterfuge.”According to the attorneys’ calculations, the average taxpayer in the sewer district is entitled to a refund of about $1,542. They say the over-taxation stemmed from the failure of county officials to pass on “the substantial savings” that arose from the amortization of South West Sewer District’s debt that had been issued in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. As the debt was paid off “in increasingly large amounts,” the county held on to the savings instead of returning it to the taxpayers as the county statute and state law required, the attorneys say.“My understanding is that these numbers have just really accrued in the last three or four years,” said Sabatino, who left county government seven years ago. “I think they’ve been caught with their budgetary pants down on this one.”“Failure to stop this violation of the constitutional rights of the taxpayers and allowing it to continue in the future will imperil the public interest, cause public injury, and promote public mischief,” attorney Irving Like said in a statement. “The strong policy of the law requires a full accounting of all public funds and is designed to prevent municipal governments from acquiring tax proceeds faster than they are needed and for costs and expenses not incurred.”The county attorney’s office has reportedly asked the court for an extension in order to reply to the lawsuit, which is filed under index number 15-01596. Neither the county attorney’s office nor the county executive’s representatives responded to requests for comment from the Press.This issue doesn’t involve Suffolk County’s Drinking Water Protection Program, which county voters have approved by referenda because it is funded by a ¼ cent sales tax. Recently, the county had borrowed $30 million of that program’s money without voters’ approval, sparking a three-year lawsuit which ended last summer when county lawmakers and environmentalists struck a deal to end the legal battle and restore the money to the program.But what’s at stake is the same principle, according to Richard Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society.“When the will of the voters is ignored, government has betrayed the public trust,” Amper told the Press. “What’s really both bad and stupid is that if government keeps playing ‘April Fools’ with the voters, they’re going to stop authorizing spending for important government programs, such as the Drinking Water Protection Program. The public won’t continue to reward bad faith.” read more
Man Utd set to make Sanchez highest-paid EPL playerLondon, United Kingdom | AFP | Manchester United are set to land Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal by making him the Premier League’s highest paid player, according to several reports on Thursday.The Chilean striker would earn between 400,000 and 500,000 pounds ($555,000 and $690,000) a week before tax by moving to Old Trafford, according to The Sun, the Daily Telegraph and other newspapers.The 29-year-old’s wage demands are said to have scared off Manchester City and Chelsea, leaving United as his main suitors.The Daily Telegraph reported that United have offered Sanchez a four-and-a-half-year contract and he would move for a £30 million transfer fee — it is relatively low because he could leave for free at the end of the summer.The deal for the former Barcelona player would also likely involve a £20 million signing-on fee and a £10 million agent’s fee. The Sun reports however that Arsenal could still refuse to allow Sanchez to leave if they do not find a replacement.The agent for United’s unsettled midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan said this week a deal for Sanchez hinged on Mkhitaryan moving to Arsenal, but The Sun said such an agreement had yet to reached.United manager Jose Mourinho left 28-year-old Mkhitaryan out of his squad to face Stoke last Monday due to “doubts about his future”.Mourinho said this week it would be “great” if Sanchez joined although he remained non-committal.United are second in the Premier League, 12 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City, and Sanchez’s capture would be seen as a statement of intent from a team already paying huge wages to French international midfielder Paul Pogba and Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku.Arsenal, struggling to compete for the Champions League places and knocked out of the FA Cup, have been linked with Borussia Dortmund’s wantaway forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bordeaux’s 20-year-old Brazilian striker Malcom.Share on: WhatsApp read more
Submitted by Thurston County Solid WasteMany printed dates are for peak quality and not for food safety Did you know the average American family wastes as much as 25 percent of the food they buy? For a family of four, that adds up to anywhere between $1,600 and $2,300 worth of food that’s thrown out in a year! Part of the reason for this waste of food, money and resources can be tied to confusion about food expiration dates.Many people are throwing out food that’s safe to eat, thinking that any food that’s past its printed “expiration date” is unsafe to eat. According the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), those expiration dates are not safety related. Instead, they are an indication of a window of peak quality. And those dates are determined by the food’s manufacturer—not by the USDA or other regulatory agency.To further complicate things, there is no universal system used for food-dating in the United States. Best if Used By:, Best if Used Before: and Use By: are all labels that food manufacturers use to show the period they consider to be the peak quality for the item—not whether the food is still safe to eat. According to the USDA, foods that are past those printed dates can still be “safe, wholesome and of good quality if handled properly.”The key take-away here is that these labels, however they’re worded, are not indications of safety. In fact, with few exceptions, there are no federal safety regulations that guide the process of dating foods.So, how can you tell if your food is still good to eat? Your senses are still your best tools! If it looks right, smells right and tastes right, and if you know it’s been handled and stored properly, (e.g.; it hasn’t been sitting in a hot car all day) then it’s likely safe to eat. On the flip side, foods that are slimy, off-color or that have a strange odor or flavor—those foods could have bacterial contamination and you should not eat them.Thurston County families could save money and waste less food just by getting the facts. You can find a lot more information, tips and tricks on this topic, plus information on the proper ways to store and handle foods so that they last longer and stay safe to eat. Just search “expiration dates” on the USDA web site, or visit www.StillTasty.com to get started.If you want to learn more about how to keep more food out of the landfill and keep more money in your wallet, go to www.WasteLessFood.com. You can explore our SMART tips and tricks that will help you waste less food, and learn more about the environmental and economic impacts of wasted food.To schedule a fun and free group presentation on how to waste less food, contact Gabby Byrne at [email protected] or (360) 867-2284. Facebook0Tweet0Pin0 read more