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Archive for January, 2009

Westchester County offering free tax assistance

January
30

Helping local taxpayers navigate a complex tax code and get their full refunds from Uncle Sam is the goal of a Westchester County government program that is entering its fifth year.

Under the program, which lasts until the tax filing deadline deadline on April 15, the county is offering free tax preparation assistance to low and moderate-income residents. One goal of the program is to help eligible taxpayers apply for tax credits that can significantly lower their federal tax bills.

Last year, the program helped 4,870 Westchester residents secure federal income tax refunds of more than $4 million.

“The IRS really wants to get this money out to people” County Executive Andrew Spano said today at a news conference. “We have been able to put a good group together to do this….This program helps the neediest people that we have.”

Helping taxpayers apply for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit is a major focus of the program. Taxpayers with incomes below $41,464 may be eligible to claim this credit, which can result in a refund of more than $4,800, according to the Internal Revenue Service. The amount of the credit varies based on the taxpayer’s filing status, incomes and children in the household.

“If you are earning $40,000 a year, $35,000 a year, $20,000 a year, and someone gives you $5,000 that you didn’t know that you were going to get, that’s a big deal,” Spano said.

Other tax credits also may be available to families, including the the Child Tax credit, Education Credits and Dependent Child Care Credits.

Numerous sites around the county are offering the free taxpayer assistance. People can call United Way’s 2-1-1 line to identify convenient locations and business hours. Appointments are recommended but walk-ins are accepted. The hours of operation vary by site, with evening and weekend hours at some locations. Taxpayers with household income below $42,000 are eligible for the service.

For additional information, go to westchestergov.com/eitc.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Friday, January 30th, 2009 at 4:54 pm |
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Mall owner says it will stay in region

January
30

Centro Properties Group’s decision to sell the Cortlandt Towne Center does not mean the Australian shopping mall giant plans to pull out of the Lower Hudson Valley, a company spokesman said today.
But Centro’s sale of the Cortlandt mall to Acadia Realty Trust of White Plains sharply reduces Centro’s profile in the region. The mall was the largest of eight properties Centro had in Westchester and Rockland counties; at 646,000 square feet, it accounted for about half of Centro’s 1.2 million square feet in the region.
The company has not put the other seven retail centers on the block, said Jocelyn Bugay, an administrative assistant in the acquisitions section of the company’s Manhattan office.
Bugay confirmed that Acadia paid $78 million for the mall. The deal closed Thursday, she said. Centro was scrambling for new financing last year after several years of broad expansion; its financial problems drove its stock down to mere pennies.
This month the company said it had secured long-term financing, but at terms that diluted the holdings of shareholders.
Centro has shopping centers in Hartsdale, Mamaroneck, Yonkers, New Rochelle, and Nanuet.

Reach staff writer Jerry Gleeson at jgleeson@lohud.com or 914-694-5026.

Posted by Jerry Gleeson on Friday, January 30th, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
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Rockland existing home sales rise

January
30

Year-over-year sales of existing homes rose in 15 of 58 counties reporting results to the New York State Association of Realtors for December after being up in just four counties in November. Median sales prices, however, were up in 16 counties in December, after being up in 23 counties in November.

In the Lower Hudson Valley, the overall numbers showed continued weakness, though sales gained in Rockland and the median sales price rose in Putnam, according to the Realtors’ report released today.

Putnam’s median was $380,000, up 1.1 percent in December from a year earlier, despite a 32.8 percent drop in sales.

Rockland’s median sales price was $425,000, down 13.3 percent, though sales rose 6.9 percent.

Westchester’s median was $562,500, a decline of 7.8 percent, as sales fell 27.8 percent.

To read more about this story and search our database on existing home sales across New York, click on the hyperlink below:

Lower Hudson Valley existing home sales mixed in December

Posted by Frank Brill on Friday, January 30th, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
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Grand Lux Realty opens Mount Kisco office

January
30

Grand Lux Realty recently opened a new office at 15 Armonk Rd. in Mt. Kisco. The company’s president, Michael Levy has over 23 years of experience in the real estate field. The agency said it has sold more than $35 million of real estate since the company started more than two years ago.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Friday, January 30th, 2009 at 12:36 pm |
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IBM renews contract with Korea Exchange

January
30

IBM Corp. said that it has renewed a technology services contract with the Korea Exchange, which was created in 2005 through the merger of three Korean spot and futures exchanges. Under the contract, Armonk-based IBM will provide maintenance and contract management services for hardware, software and other computer equipment. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Friday, January 30th, 2009 at 12:21 pm |
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IBM signs $472 million contract with utility

January
29

IBM Corp. has signed a $472 million contract to supply technology services to Endesa, a giant electric utility in Spain and Latin America. Under the seven-year contract, Armonk-based IBM will manage Endesa’s central technology network and systems used by 30,000 Endesa employees. Endesa is expected to cut its costs by 20 percent as a result of the agreement, according to IBM.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Thursday, January 29th, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
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New agent named for Jarden loan agreement

January
29

Jarden Corp., the Rye-based consumer products maker, said that Deutsche Bank AG will replace Lehman Brothers’ commercial paper subsidiary as the administrative agent for a loan agreement that supplies credit to Jarden.

The change is part of Jarden’s settlement of outstanding claims against Lehman Brothers, which filed for bankruptcy last year. The settlement also includes repayment of Lehman’s outstanding revolving credit loans to Jarden on mutually acceptable terms to both parties, according to Jarden.

“We are happy to put the distraction of Lehman’s bankruptcy behind us and we look forward to our new expanded relationship with Deutsche Bank,” said Martin E. Franklin, chairman and chief executive officer at Jarden.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Thursday, January 29th, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
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New president named at Orange and Rockland Utilities

January
29

William G. Longhi has been named the new president and chief executive officer of Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc., which provides electric service to 300,000 customers in southeastern New York state, northern New Jersey and northeastern Pennsylvania.

Longhi, 55, previously was the senior vice president of central operations at Consolidated Edison of New York. In that position, his responsibilities included the planning, design, operation and maintenance of electric generation, transmission and substations systems. After joining Consolidated Edison in 1976, Longhi has held a variety of positions. Those included vice president of operations at Orange and Rockland in 2000 and 2001.

Longhi succeeds John D. McMahon who served as Orange and Rockland’s president and CEO for six years. McMahon returns to Consolidated Edison as executive vice president. The changes are effective Sunday. Consolidated Edison is the parent company of Orange and Rockland Utilities.

Longhi lives in Katonah with wife, Janice, and three children — Billy, Jacqueline and Angela.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Thursday, January 29th, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
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Schumer lobbies to save Wyeth plant

January
29

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer said that he doesn’t want Rockland County’s economy to suffer in the aftermath of a blockbuster deal in the drug industry. Four days after Pfizer Inc. announced a $68 billion buyout of rival Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc., Schumer said a high priority is keeping Wyeth’s plant in Pearl River open.

The future of the 3,100-worker factory became uncertain after Pfizer said it plans to lay off 19,000 workers and close five factories after the deal closes. The factories on Pfizer’s closing list have not been identified.

Schumer’s office said the senator made a personal phone call to Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Kindler urging the company to keep the jobs in Rockland County and across New York state.

“These are tough economic times and we must make sure that we hold onto these much-needed jobs in Rockland County,” Schumer, a New York Democrat, said in a written statement. “The Wyeth plant in Pearl River has a world-class workforce and I wanted to make sure that at the highest level, Pfizer understood what a great job these employees do.”

Posted by Jay Loomis on Thursday, January 29th, 2009 at 2:13 pm |
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Infertility practice relocates to Mount Kisco

January
29

Westchester Reproductive Medicine recently relocated to 344 Main Street, Suite 403, in Mount Kisco. It previously was based in Yorktown Heights. Since 2006, Westchester Reproductive Medicine has provided infertility treatment options to women and men wishing to have a baby under the oversight of Dr. Rachel Bennett, an infertility specialist.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Thursday, January 29th, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
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IBM signs contract with Whirlpool

January
28

IBM Corp. said that it has signed a technology services contract with Whirlpool Corp., the nation’s biggest home appliance manufacturer. Under the contract, Armonk-based IBM will provide Whirlpool with infrastructure services in more than 40 countries. Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
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Carmel development to host grand opening

January
28

The Retreat at Carmel, a new residential community in Putnam County, will host a grand opening for its clubhouse on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The $2.5-million clubhouse is equipped with an outdoor heated pool with sundeck, tennis and bocce ball courts, putting green, ballroom, exercise and aerobics room, an arts and crafts room, billiards and game room, a lounge with a fireplace and men’s and women’s locker rooms.

During the grand opening, prospective buyers and future residents will be able to tour the 7,100-square-foot facility. The Retreat at Carmel features manor homes and condominium residences.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
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Gilman Ciocia buys Mahopac firm

January
28

Gilman Ciocia Inc., a Poughkeepsie-based provider of tax preparation services today, said that it bought Weiss Advisory Group LLC, a financial services firm in Mahopac. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Managers and staff at Weiss will continue to work in their offices at 704 Route 6 in Mahopac.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
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XTL considers merger offers

January
28

XTL Biopharmaceuticals Ltd., a Valley Cottage-based biotech company, said that it is evaluating merger proposals from U.S. and foreign companies. XTL did not identify those potential merger partners, which operate in and outside of the health care sector.

“These discussions are preliminary in nature, and consequently, the timing of and ability to consummate such a transaction cannot be predicted at this time,” XTL said in a written statement.

The company added that it may still decide that its best option is to liquidate the company by distributing the remaining assets to the shareholders.

XTL originally announced plans in December to seek a merger partner or liquidate after the failure of a clinical trial for bicifadine, a treatment for nerve pain associated with diabetes. The company said that the study comparing the effectiveness of two doses of bicifadine against a placebo failed to meet its primary goals.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 at 3:30 pm |
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Tech job outlook weakens in Westchester

January
27

An index tracking the outlook for technology jobs declined in Westchester County during the fourth quarter as the region felt the effects of the global economic slowdown.

Five of the 11 tech job categories tracked by the Pace/SkillPROOF IT Job Index declined in Westchester during the quarter. Another five were flat.

“While the economy continues to depress the job market, including IT, businesses are taking stock of how to do ‘more for less’,” said Judy Arteche-Carr, chair of the Society for Information Management’s New York chapter.

The best performing job category, network administrators, reversed a year-long decline and turned positive. The job category of software engineers, including systems specialists and applications specialists, also showed improvement. The Westchester index itself dropped from 63 to 53 during the quarter. A separate Manhattan index fell to 44 in the fourth quarter from 88 in the third quarter.

The full report is available at www.pace.edu/PSII.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 at 5:47 pm |
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Valhalla company can market filters through state list

January
27

A Valhalla-based startup that produces highly efficient oil filters is hoping that a deal with New York state will lift its profile.
SOMS Technologies Inc. said the state’s Office of General Services has added its filters to the state’s preferred buying list. This means that purchasing agents for state agencies and local governments can get discounted prices for the filters by buying them through the OGS.
SOMS may be in the right place at the right time. Last year Gov. Paterson issued an executive order that directed state agencies to adopt “sustainability initiatives,” or steps that the agencies could take to curb the risks of toxic materials, maximize recycling, manage renewable resources, and other methods.
Miles Flamenbaum, SOMS’ chief executive, said that using the company’s oil filters would help agencies achieve some of those mandated goals. The oil filters can extend the length of time between oil changes.
There are about 17,000 vehicles in the state fleet, he said. Flamenbaum couldn’t say what impact the listing with OGS would have on his sales; SOMS just started selling the filters last fall.
The listing could give the company some credibility with other governments or operators of private fleets, such as taxis and truck companies, he said.
SOMS bid to get onto the OGS list through the New York State Industries for the Disabled, a not-for-profit group of businesses that promotes employment of people with disabilities. One of its member companies, Pine Ridge Industries, an affiliate of the Schenectady ARC, has contracts with SOMS.

Posted by Jerry Gleeson on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
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EpiCept reports positive study of skin cream

January
27

EpiCept Corp. announced positive results from a study of a skin cream that is under development at the Eastview-based biotech company. The cream, designed to relieve nerve pain, performed better than a placebo cream and at least as well as a generic cream, according to EpiCept. Jack Talley, president and chief executive officer, said that the favorable results may help EpiCept find a partner to help develop the cream.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
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Real estate agency cleared of discrimination charges

January
27

Peter J. Riolo Real Estate, an agency in Hastings-on-Hudson, said that it has been cleared of housing discrimination charges after extensive government investigations.

The controversy dates to March 2006 when a group known as the National Fair Housing Alliance alleged that agents for Peter J. Riolo Real Estate violated fair housing laws by seeking to place prospective buyers – who were actually investigators – in certain communities based on their race.

In a 12-page decision, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development dismissed the allegations and concluded “there was no reasonable cause to believe that the respondent (Peter J. Riolo Real Estate) has engaged in unlawful discriminatory acts during the subject paired tests.” The Westchester County Human Rights Commission also concluded that there was no evidence of discrimination.

Peter Riolo, the agency president, said that he is pleased that the matter has been resolved.

“The support of the community during this time has been extraordinary and we are very grateful,” Riolo said. “For more than 70 years, our company has been committed to the principles of fair housing and non-discrimination.”

Posted by Jay Loomis on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
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WHI installs system at auto parts chain

January
27

WHI Solutions, a Rye Brook-based maker of business management software, said that it helped install a new store management system in 1,000 independent and locally owned Carquest Auto Parts Stores nationally. The system aids the stores in such areas as cataloging, ordering and information technology. WHI, recently named by Deloitte & Touche as one of the fastest growing technology companies in the United States, has more than 1,600 customers.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
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Pernod Ricard announces distribution deals

January
27

Pernod Ricard USA, a Purchase-based wine and liquor company, announced two agreements to distribute its products.

Southern Wine & Spirits of America Inc. of Miami will be Pernod Ricard’s leading distributor in more than 20 markets, including California, Florida, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Kentucky. Republic National Distributing Co. of Dallas will be the leading Pernod Ricard distributor in Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Washington D.C., Alabama and Mississippi.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
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About this blog
Business in the Burbs is our online news blog about businesses based or operating in the Lower Hudson Valley. Visitors here will also find items of interest to consumers in the region. Most contributions are from business reporters and editors covering Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties.

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