Holiday food prices climb

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first_imgTurkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie are usually staples on a traditional Thanksgiving table. However, Saint Mary’s economics professor Richard Measell said that table might look different this holiday for some American families due to the rising costs of food. “We’re seeing higher prices generally in the economy, but food prices are going up higher than overall prices out there,” Measell said. This year, inflation has increased at an annual rate of four percent, which is a higher rate than previous years, Measell said. However, food prices are increasing at a rate of six percent. While food prices in the grocery store increase, Measell said the price of restaurant meals have not increased proportionally. “Restaurant prices, however, have not been going up as much,” Measell said. “There is just more competition among restaurants than grocery stores. For restaurants, there [are] a wider variety of choices [than grocery stores] and the increased competition held food prices more in check.” Measell said these prices are climbing for a number of reasons, including a rise in the price of corn, higher energy costs and greater global demand for food. “The costs for farming [are] higher, and that is one thing that is passed along to the customers on the supply side,” Measell said. “And on the demand side, we have a stronger global demand for food.” As the U.S. economy and other global economies pick up, Measell said the demand for food would continue to jump. Measell said families could cut down on their Thanksgiving grocery bill by looking for store specials. A “loss leader,” for example, is a product that is lowered in price to encourage consumers to buy other goods. Thanksgiving staples like turkey could be loss leaders right now, he said. “I don’t know if the stores actually sell them for a loss, but … this concept of loss leaders really helps you understand how they price things at this time,” he said. “You would think that at Thanksgiving, turkeys would be way more expensive, as opposed to less expensive. But they put them on sale, and it’s really interesting that stores know what customers want, and with competition, they charge the lower price of those items than what you would normally be spending.” One Thanksgiving food that is inexpensive this year is sweet potatoes. “I guess sweet potatoes are in great supply this year, and one local store is selling them for 25 cents a pound,” he said. Resources like coupons and advertisements in the Sunday newspaper can help a consumer find the best prices on Thanksgiving, Measell said, adding that the financial strain of the holiday season might add to a family’s bills. “Some people, especially at Christmas, will be willing to go into a lot of debt to make sure their kids have a good Christmas,” he said. “Sadly, they will rack up more debt than they can probably handle for their kids to have a good Christmas and will have to pay that off for the rest of the year.” However, he said consumers would also need to make decisions about what their priorities are as food costs rise. “People are going to become more cautions on how they spend their money, but [for] some people, it’s life,” he said. “Thanksgiving and Christmas are big times, and you don’t want to skimp at those. And I think that some people will maybe cut out other things to maybe have a better Thanksgiving and a better Christmas.”last_img read more

Authors debate gay marriage

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first_imgThe co-authors of “Debating Same-Sex Marriage” tackled the hot-button issue last night at a debate by the same name. Maggie Gallagher, former president of the National Organization for Marriage, and John Corvino, chair of philosophy at Wayne State University, discussed how each believes same-sex marriage would impact children, society and the institution of marriage. Corvino introduced his defense of gay marriage by arguing that it would not impact straight couples already or seeking to become married. “Gay people find happiness in same-sex marriage,” he said. “When they find that happiness, it does not take away anything from you. … Giving marriage to gay people does not mean taking it away from straight people.” Gallagher, however, said she believed allowing same-sex marriage would detract from the important societal norm defining marriage’s key purpose as building cohesion between man, woman and child, an arrangement under which she believes children thrive most. “We need a cultural mechanism for attaching father to mother and children for a bond and for communicating to both men and women that there’s something very important at stake here,” she said. “Children are at risk if parents don’t get and stay married and build basic, average, decent-enough marriages.” Gallagher supported her assertion by recounting her own experience as an unmarried senior – and self-professed pro-life atheist – at Yale in 1982, when she became pregnant. Several years later, Gallagher’s son began asking about his absent father. “There’s something very deep in the human heart about [wanting a mother and father],” she said. “I wasn’t able to give him what my mother and father, working together, were able to give me.” Corvino cited a number of authorities, including the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, claiming children of same-sex couples are not, in fact, worse off than those from heterosexual families. “When you compare intact same-sex couples with intact heterosexual couples, controlling for other variables, we find children do just as well,” he said. “Every major health and welfare association that has commented on this issue has said the same thing.” Gallagher pointed to the commonality of heterosexual marriage across time and societies, singling its institution out as one of the only “universals” of human life. “Marriage is a virtually universal human social institution,” she said. “Marriage evolves and changes over time, and yet, over and over again in completely different societies, there’s a certain basic shape that emerges.” She said the common three principles upon which marriage is based throughout human cultures is the natural drive toward reproductive sex, society’s need to maintain a population and a child’s right to both a mother and a father. “This is not some archaic relic,” she said. “This is the common human experience.” Corvino said marriage’s other purposes make it an important concept even for those unable to reproduce traditionally. “People say the natural purpose of sex and marriage is procreation,” he said. “It’s pretty clear to me that a natural purpose of sex and marriage is procreation, but the only purpose? It seems that sex has these other important purposes: the expression of affection, sharing of intimacy. … What do you say to infertile heterosexual couples, or elderly couples, that their marriage is pointless?” Beyond recognizing relationships, Corvino said marriage offers crucial legal benefits to same-sex couples, including healthcare rights, social security, immigration and divorce. “It also does certain things legally for relationships,” he said. “One of the reasons for gay marriage is gay divorce.” Gallagher said the legal aspects of marriage are secondary to its purpose. “Marriage as a legal contract is really not that significant,” she said. “Most of the legal structures, even the ones John described, have very little to do with what people expect, want or need in marriage.” The legal matters hanging in the balance, Gallagher argued, are the rights of those opposed to gay marriage should it become a widespread institution, citing an instance of a diversity officer at a college being suspending following her signing of a petition relating to the issue. “It gets worse because I think the classic understanding of marriage is not only going to be repudiated, but it’s going to be actively oppressed by law, culture and society after same-sex marriage.” Corvino said the real issue comes down to overlooking crucial aspects of human nature over issues of biology. “What so often happens in this debate is that we reduce people – and their lives and their feelings and relationships, and all that makes them up – to parts, and we miss the larger picture,” he said. “I think in this debate, we can do better than that.” Contact John Cameron atlast_img read more

Students perform ‘The Coronation of Poppea’

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first_imgThis weekend, Notre Dame’s Department of Music will continue an important department tradition of opera performance for the student body with the presentation of Monteverdi’s “The Coronation of Poppea.”According to senior Sean McGee, who will play Nero in the show, the opera explores Emperor Nero’s passionate affair with Poppea, a noblewoman who is eventually able to supplant Nero’s wife Octavia and become Empress of Rome.Regarded as one of the oldest operas ever created and written in Italian, “The Coronation of Poppea” differs from pieces the department has performed in the past. These qualities presented their own unique challenges, McGee said.“The styles of music were very different from how they’re written today, the way opera was structured is incredibly different from how it was when it later developed, and actually it doesn’t look a thing like what you would expect an opera to be,” he said. “It’s a lot more fluid, a lot more free form.”The preparation for the opera was extensive, senior Ali Thomas, who plays Poppea in the show, said. The dedication required to perform the opera is exactly what makes it such an exceptional event.“Because we work so hard on it and spend so much time on it, I think that’s what makes it so much better once we perform it,” Thomas said. “You can just tell how much work has been put into every single word and movement.”Senior Joe Paggi, who will also play Nero next weekend, said the show is important to the department because of its ability to include so many students and faculty in its production.“It basically is the culmination of everything that we do,” he said. “It involves a lot of our musicians in the pit, it involves all of our singers on stage and it involves all the teachers who direct it. That’s probably why it’s one of the biggest events that the music department does, because it encompasses all different aspects of it.”“The Coronation of Poppea” runs this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and this Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Paggi said the show is the perfect opera to see if one has not experienced the medium before.“It’s a very old opera, so anybody that hasn’t been to an opera before, it’s as old as it gets,” he said. “It’s opera at its finest. … People who haven’t been to opera before, I think will be pleasantly surprised by it.”Students will be particularly surprised by their ability to relate to the show as well, McGee said.“The thing about opera is it’s much more human than people think,” he said. “The idea that people think of when they hear the word opera is very much an idea of the fat lady onstage singing with the Viking hat, and people think, ‘I can’t relate to that.’ What I’ve learned with doing opera is that it’s so much more than that.”Thomas also said she thinks the opera tells a relatable story.“That storyline in general ⎯ a political leader with a mistress, scandal, climbing up the ropes of the political ladder ⎯ that can apply to so many different things,” she said.Tickets for the show are $5 with a student ID. Students can buy tickets at performingarts.nd.eduTags: Department of Music, Opera, The Coronation of Poppealast_img read more

Fellowships fund Irish exchange program

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first_imgEach year, Notre Dame hosts a number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) undergraduate and graduate students from one of four universities in Ireland and conversely sends several of its own students abroad to Ireland through an exchange program funded for six years by the Naughton Fellowships.The Naughton family donated $8 million for the fellowships so that Notre Dame, as well as Trinity College of Dublin, Dublin City University, University College Dublin and University College Cork, could participate in the international exchange, according to the Office of the Vice President for Research’s (OVPR) website.According to Joanne Fahey, Research Communications Program Director for OVPR, the College of Science currently hosts four students in Masters degree programs and five in Ph.D. programs. Another four Notre Dame students pursuing their Masters and four Notre Dame Ph.D. students are studying and researching in Ireland through the fellowship.Undergraduate students in the Naughton program participate in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), a 10-week long summer program, Fahey said in an email.Notre Dame undergraduates seeking to apply for an REU in Dublin or Cork are required to submit an application before February 22nd, according to the program’s website. Undergraduates apply directly to work on a specific project that has been put forth by the hosting institution. Summer 2015 projects for American students will be listed in December, the website stated.Dublin native Amy Flanagan is currently pursuing her Masters degree at Notre Dame through the Engineering, Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Excellence Masters (ESTEEM) program. She has been working with the Center for Research Computing (CRC) — particularly Dr. Timothy Wright, assistant director of the CRC — to develop her thesis.“Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the CRC have developed a web-based application that trains personnel in an Emergency Operations Center,” Flanagan said in an email. “Whenever there is an emergency, management from each of the agencies involved — Mayor’s office, police or fire department, Red Cross and NGOs etc. — all gather together to make strategic decisions in one room known as an Emergency Operations Center.“These people are under severe pressure to make quick decisions that have lasting impacts on the entire community. The application that has been developed in collaboration with Emory University, Florida International University and Miami-Dade [Emergency Operations Center] can be used to simulate a disaster and train personnel. My thesis project is developing the business plan for the commercialization of this.”Flanagan said the program has kept her busy but has provided a substantial amount of unique opportunities.“I really feel that the ESTEEM program is an incredible chance to launch yourself into a variety of careers — be it the startup scene, large technology, medical or engineering firms, consultancy or even non-profits,” she said. “The amount of opportunities that we have is simply vast and I’m trying to really seize as many as I can in a short period of time.“As part of it I am hoping to look for a internship with a local startup, continue working on my capstone thesis and ESTEEM classes, as well as analyze more business startup ventures through the McCloskey Business Plan Competition here on campus.”The Naughton Fellowship has been in existence for six years, according to its website. Alumni from every year gathered together in October of this year, Flanagan said.“The Naughton Foundation has been an incredible support from the outset,” she said. “I can’t express how grateful we are to them for this. We were able to throw a reunion tailgate for the Naughton alumni at the Stanford game and it was brilliant to be able to have everyone together again after about five years of the program. The people that are now a part of the alumni are an incredible testament to the Foundation, and of course the Naughton family themselves.“The whole experience with ESTEEM that the Naughton Foundation has given us has been second to none and has simply opened a whole array of doors to us all that will allow us to launch our careers in an unbelievable way,” Flanagan said. “We can only hope to take the skills and experience that we learn in the coming years and pay it forward later on when we are in a position to do so.”Tags: business, ESTEEM, exchange, Ireland, Naughton Fellowship, researchlast_img read more

Irish 4 Reproductive Health promotes contraception access at Notre Dame

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first_imgIn response to changes in the University’s contraceptive coverage policy, students have organized to advocate for contraception access on campus, forming the new group, Irish 4 Reproductive Health (I4RH).“We want to, as it says in our mission statement, allow members of our community and enable them, regardless of gender, regardless of class, to get the health care — specifically reproductive health care — that they need,” sophomore Anne Jarrett said. “We also want to foster a dialogue on campus about these issues because we believe in reproductive health for all members of the community and their own agency in deciding the best way to be healthy.”I4RH is a “non-hierarchical” group, independent of Notre Dame, according to its mission statement.  While it has received support from national organizations, including Planned Parenthood, I4RH is also independent of these groups, members said.“I think that’s one of the strengths of our group, that we’re coming from a very unique position as students and members of the Notre Dame community,” senior Becca Fritz said. “And so in that way, our actions and our views and opinions aren’t related necessarily to those of national organizations [but] we’re grateful for their support.”In order to spark conversations about reproductive healthcare, members of the group have written letters to the editor published in The Observer. I4RH has also distributed around condoms with definitions of consent attached at Main Circle on campus.“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to again, engage in discussion with the administration,” Fritz said. “We’re hopeful that this can create some kind of dialogue about how the decisions have been largely made from the top, so allowing the voices that are most affected by these decisions to be in conversation with the ones at the top who are [making] the decisions.”Senior Natasha Reifenberg said she believes I4RH’s mission aligns with aspects of Catholic Social Teaching regarding workers’ rights.“This a point where we could bring up a core tenet of Catholic Social Teaching which is to embrace labor unions and embrace the rights of workers to engage and challenge management of issues of core concern to employees’ wellbeing,” she said. “And we think that those principles have not been prioritized the way that they should be in the process by which decisions have been made.”Jarrett said widespread access to reproductive healthcare is important because of the medical issues one could face.“I know for myself, I have an [intrauterine device] and without that IUD I would not be able to attend this University because I would pass out for about a week every single month,” she said. “And I am a Catholic. … The way that I decide my own moral decisions and make these moral decisions is the way that I practice my faith.”Even within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, there is disagreement about contraception use, Reifenberg said, and Notre Dame should facilitate discussion surrounding this issue.“I believe that it hasn’t fully lived up to that responsibility by failing to open up a larger dialogue about higher order principles of moral autonomy, decreasing rates of abortion and infant mortality and maternal mortality and how that can be connected to access to contraception,” she said. “This is a long overdue debate and it would be so wonderful to see Notre Dame opening up avenues for conversations like these but instead, what we’ve seen the administration do is close these avenues.” Tags: Contraception Coverage, Irish 4 Reproductive Health, notre dame contraception policylast_img read more

Saint Mary’s Student Activities Board hosts winter event for local kids

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first_imgIt’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and the Saint Mary’s Student Activities Board (SAB) is kicking off the holiday season by hosting an event for the community.On Saturday, SAB will host its annual Winter Wonderland event. The two-part event is designed for children in the community in the morning and Saint Mary’s students in the afternoon.The morning will consist of Christmas and winter-themed crafts, games and cookie decorating. Additionally, no Christmas event is complete without a visit from Santa. In addition to committee members of SAB, many members from the Notre Dame football, baseball and lacrosse teams volunteer to support the event each year.“They are role models to the kids, so it is good for these kids to see people they can look up to,” Sarah Law, a senior and chair of the Traditional Events Committee for SAB, said.The event is a hit with both children and Saint Mary’s students, alike. Zoie Clay, a senior and the president of SAB, said she looked forward to volunteering at Winter Wonderland every year.“This my favorite event we do all year,” she said. “My absolute favorite part is the kids — it is so great to see their faces light up and have fun with no worries for two hours. It is an awesome feeling knowing that I contributed to their joy.”Law shared similar sentiments.“There is nothing better than seeing how excited the kids get,” she said. “Especially when they are walking around with their goodie bags and lined up to see Santa.”Giving back to the community is a fundamental piece of this event, Clay said.“I think it’s important, as a college community, to give back to the greater South Bend community and to give something really good,” she said.The kids that are invited to attend Winter Wonderland range from faculty and staff’s children to kids from the Early Childhood Development Center to students from local low-income elementary schools.“We are so lucky to be at a school where our faculty and staff continually go above and beyond for us, so when they bring their kids to the event it is just a small token of our appreciation,” Clay said.Law said Winter Wonderland is “a good way to incorporate the community into the event and get the word out about Saint Mary’s at the same time.”Many families choose to return annually to the event and it is offered completely free of charge.“Winter Wonderland allows community members’ kids that otherwise wouldn’t be able to go to an event like this the chances to have some Christmas joy in their lives,” Clay said.Tags: SAB, Student Activities Board, Winter Wonderlandlast_img read more

SCORE promotes STEM community through ice cream study session

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first_imgWhipped cream, half-and-half, vanilla, sugar and liquid nitrogen — these are the ingredients the Student Committee on Research Expansion (SCORE) used Sunday in Science Hall at Saint Mary’s to make ice cream for their study session. The ice cream itself has a consistency similar to frozen yogurt, attendees at the study session said. To make it, liquid nitrogen is poured over the other ingredients, then stirred slowly with a wooden spoon. The spoon must be wooden, otherwise it will freeze and break. Steam pours over the side of the bowl, creating a witch’s cauldron effect — only unlike witches, SCORE members know the importance of wearing proper safety equipment.SCORE is an organization created this year to create a place for STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors at Saint Mary’s and members of the organization work with the Career Crossings Center and various individual companies to discover STEM internships and promote new research between various scientific fields. Along with the ice cream session, senior Heather DiLallo and junior Maggie Benjamin said SCORE hosts several similar events for STEM majors throughout the year. The group’s first event was a research and internship panel hosted at the beginning of the year, followed by a resume workshop and STEM fall poster day. “Our goal is to build community with STEM majors,” DiLallo said. “We want to push them to get involved in research and to help make a difference in the wider world.”SCORE is currently planning events for the Spring semester like a professional development workshop in January and a party for STEM majors after sophomores declare majors at the end of the spring semester. Within the Saint Mary’s community, SCORE provides a network of support for STEM students, sophomore biology major Veronica Vanoverbeke said. “We want to reach out at each event to get people in one place and talk about STEM — majors, homework, teachers, advice and anything else that might come up,” Vanoverbeke said. As a student also majoring in STEM, Benjamin described additional benefits to being a member of SCORE. “We can give each other a unique student perspective,” she said. “In my case, some of my upperclasswomen helped me realize what I want to do. I started out as a [biology] major, but then switched to chemistry because I enjoyed math more. One of the upperclasswomen gave me the advice that directed me toward engineering. It’s what we want to do for younger students.”The liberal arts environment at Saint Mary’s, DiLallo said, allows the scientific community to become closer and help each other discover new interests or research opportunities through events such as the ice cream study session.  “When I came here to visit, I knew I wanted to do engineering,” DiLallo said. “One of the major factors that drove my decision to come to Saint Mary’s was the liberal arts background, the ability to do scientific research and the connection to Notre Dame.”Tags: Ice cream, SCORE, STEM, Student Committee of Research Expansionlast_img read more

SMC welcomes new library director

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first_imgWhen members of the Saint Mary’s community enter the Cushwa-Leighton Library this year, they won’t just notice physical transformations and renovations that occurred over the summer. The library has also gone through recent administrative changes. Beyond the circulation desks to the back of the library is the office for Joseph Thomas, the newest library director named in January.This year marks Thomas’ first academic year as library director. He previously worked at Notre Dame Law Library for about 25 years and Georgetown Law Library for four years. Then he came to Saint Mary’s.He pursued the position at Saint Mary’s due to its diverse subject matter as a liberal arts college.“I’ve always been interested in working [in] a college library at liberal arts college,” Thomas said. “What I find very appealing is the variety of subject areas instead of just one. I really enjoyed working in law libraries, and I like the laws as a subject, but I have a liberal arts background. The idea that we have a library with science and literature and sociology and everything else that a liberal college covers, is very appealing to me. … That’s kind of my dream job. … So, when it opened up at Saint Mary’s, I applied.”The liberal arts identity of the college offers diverse content, but the College itself will hopefully provide social diversity and a diversity of perspectives to the world, Thomas said. He is excited to be part of an institution focused on ensuring women’s voices are heard.“I’m very excited to be at a women’s college,” Thomas said. “I’m hoping in the next generation or two, the voices of women will be heard in a way that they haven’t [been] in the past, and that a place like Saint Mary’s is going to be not just supportive of that, but kind of a leader in that way. That combined with the sort of Catholic and intellectual tradition in a place like this just seems to be such a fruitful way for new voices to get heard.”Saint Mary’s students interact with librarians and research librarians through the research help desk and during class demonstrations, Thomas said, but they are sometimes removed from the administrative side of the library.“The library in some ways operates like other campus offices,” Thomas said. “It has a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes on that people don’t realize. … Ordering the right resources and getting them organized and cataloged and made available so that people can use them effectively is really one of our big jobs that kind of goes unseen.”He said the results of this work can be seen on the library’s web page.Like any on-campus office or organization, the library has a budget. Deciding how that budget is used — including which books, websites and subscriptions are purchased — is one of Thomas’ duties.“We want to make sure we buy the right stuff,” he said. “And that that’s a big part of our job.”Thomas said he does not have any large administrative changes planned but asserts that he sees the library as a service to the Saint Mary’s community.“I think my whole approach to libraries is to be focused on the users of the library and to make sure that we’re giving them the best sort of bang for their buck,” he said.Thomas said he is likely not alone in this goal and that most library directors probably have similar ones. With the introduction of new technology during his library career, he has seen his and his colleagues’ mission of making information both more accessible and useful become reality.“Now, at any given time, the way that [providing the best service for library users] is best accomplished changes,” Thomas said. “Twenty years ago, you would not provide the best service to your patrons in the same way you would now. … The way information comes in his changed a lot. One of our roles is to keep up with that. If the way information gets presented to people changes, say from print to electronic, you don’t want to be living in the print world only, just because that’s what you’re used to. You need to adapt. Whatever the current information needs are for our students and our faculty, we want to make sure we’re on top of that. And that’s one of our jobs is to stay abreast of those developments.”Despite the introduction of new forms of technology and the changing roles of libraries and librarians, Thomas said books are his favorite part of his job.“I know, it’s kind of an old-fashioned thing, but I just think there’s never been a better sort of technology,” he said. “People don’t often think of books these days as a technology, but what is a way of conveying information or entertainment more effectively and preserving it than a book?”Despite all his years working amongst them, Thomas asserted books still bring meaningful excitement to his life and career.“Something that compact can contain so much within,” he said. “The fact that we can collect those together and just one shelf of books in theory could have so much in it, that you could supply your whole life with entertainment, knowledge and inspiration — I just find that having a whole building of that still gets me excited.”Tags: Cushwa-Leighton Library, Joseph Thomas, Librarylast_img read more

Chautauqua Mall Working On Reopening Plan Following COVID-19 Shutdown

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first_imgShare:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) WNY News Now File ImageLAKEWOOD – Officials with the Chautauqua Mall are now working on a plan to reopen following the COVID-19 shutdown.Sharon Bennett, the area marketing director with Washington Prime Group who operates the mall, tells WNYNewsNow they are working on a plan to keep shoppers safe.“We are working on all the requirements that have to be put in place to keep people safe,” said Bennett in an email Thursday.Bennett declined our interview request, citing she did not have enough information on the reopening process at the moment. On Wednesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that malls could reopen on Friday, as long as they have a special type of air filter installed.Experts say the fine media of the filters helps capture particles down to 300 nanometers, or 0.3 microns. These filters can help capture 95 percent of those particles.They say the order from the Governor requiring high efficiency filters in malls has to do with the amount of time people spend there.Of course, people still need to wear a mask and try to keep six feet away from each other.last_img read more

Governor Cuomo Signs Executive Order To Support Seniors, Assist Restaurants

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first_imgShare:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Image by Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.ALBNAY – New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed an Executive Order providing additional support for two groups strongly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic: vulnerable homeowners and the restaurant industry.Cuomo says under the order, local governments can continue to provide property tax exemptions for low-income senior citizens and persons with disabilities who own property through 2021 by lifting an in-person renewal requirement.Additionally, the sales tax deadline for restaurants in orange zones, which have been required to suspend indoor dining, will be extended until March.“COVID has tested our collective strength and put a strain on finances for so many New Yorkers,” said Cuomo. “We’re taking measures that will provide much needed tax relief for some of those hardest hit by this pandemic – New Yorkers over 65 and our restaurant industry. With the finish line in sight, we will continue to support New Yorkers wherever possible and fight to get the federal government to deliver real relief for those who are struggling.” He says thousands of low-income senior citizens and persons with disabilities rely on property tax exemptions annually to remain in their homes. To claim or renew benefits, eligible seniors and disabled New Yorkers typically line up at town halls across the state to file the required documentation. This raises obvious concerns amid COVID-19 since those eligible to receive benefits are potentially susceptible to the virus. This modification will decrease density in assessor’s offices to limit the spread of COVID and ensure tax relief.Under the Order, local governments can automatically renew 2021 benefits for all property owners who received the benefit in 2020 unless the locality has reason to believe an individual has changed their primary address, added another owner to the deed, transferred the property to a new owner, or passed away.In addition to the flexibility provided for these benefits, the Executive Order provides a three-month extension to the deadline for restaurants in orange zones, including New York City, to turn over sales taxes to the state. Restaurants in impacted areas were required to suspend indoor dining temporarily.Extending the sales tax deadline from Dec. 21 to March 2021 will ease tax burdens for restaurants and bars in communities where COVID-19 restrictions have strongly affected them. This action also provides a degree of temporary relief as New York continues to fight to ensure the federal government provides fiscal relief for small businesses. Affected restaurants should follow guidance from the Tax Department to request this relief.last_img read more