Comegno Reappointed Bridge Commission Chairman
Vows to Continue Tax Relief Initiatives
At its November reorganization meeting, John Comegno was re-elected Chairman by fellow Burlington County Bridge Commissioners James Fattorini and Troy Singleton. Comegno reaffirmed his commitment to safe, affordable bridges and tax relief for Burlington County residents. James Fattorini was also re-elected to the position of Vice-Chairman.
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“I’m proud to say that even through this struggling economy, we’ve held the line on tolls,” said Chairman Comegno, “all while leveraging our resources for bridge improvements and innovations and working with the Freeholders on shared service initiatives that are saving Burlington County taxpayers millions of dollars.”
The Commission also adopted its annual notice of meetings, which includes evening meetings to make them more accessible to the public.
“Through our tax-saving initiatives, we’ve saved Burlington County residents nearly $16 million dollars and through grant-writing services we’ve provided we’ve brought in nearly $14 million dollars — that’s a success story I want to keep writing,” Comegno added.
The Burlington County Bridge Commission manages the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges, and through its economic development and improvement authority powers, assists Burlington County municipalities in economic development and community revitalization projects and extends pooled financing options to local governments and nonprofits in Burlington County. These initiatives have resulted in a savings of more than $15.9 million dollars and garnered more than $13.8 million dollars in grant monies for municipalities.
Employers Hiring Veterans by Year's End May Get Expanded Tax Credit
Employers planning to claim an expanded tax credit for hiring certain veterans should act soon, according to the IRS. Many businesses may qualify to receive thousands of dollars through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, but only if the veteran begins work before the new year.
Here are six key facts about the WOTC as expanded by VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011:
1. Hiring Deadline: Employers may be able to claim the expanded WOTC for qualified veterans who begin work on or after Nov. 22, 2011, but before Jan. 1, 2013.
2. Maximum Credit: The maximum tax credit is $9,600 per worker for employers that operate for-profit businesses, or $6,240 per worker for tax-exempt organizations.
3. Credit Factors: The amount of credit will depend on a number of factors. Such factors include the length of the veteran’s unemployment before being hired, the number of hours the veteran works and the amount of the wages the veteran receives during the first-year of employment.
4. Disabled Veterans: Employers hiring veterans with service-related disabilities may be eligible for the maximum tax credit.
5. State Certification: Employers must file Form 8850, Pre-Screening Notice and Certification Request for the Work Opportunity Credit, with their state workforce agency. The form must be filed within 28 days after the qualified veteran starts work. For additional information about your SWA, visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s WOTC website.
6. E-file: Some states accept Form 8850 electronically.
Visit the IRS.gov website and enter ‘WOTC’ in the search field for forms and more details about the expanded tax credit for hiring veterans.
Source: IRS Special Edition Tax Tip 2012-14
• Expanded Work Opportunity Tax Credit Available for Hiring Qualified Veterans
• VOW to Hire Heroes Act - Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
• Form 8850, Pre-Screening Notice and Certification Request for the Work Opportunity Credit
Smart Technology Monitored Effects of Hurricane on Commission Bridges
Real-Time Data Guided Decision Making
Throughout Superstorm Sandy, smart technology installed on the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges provided critical information for Commission engineers and staff, to determine that the structures were safe for travel and when to close and reopen the structures to vehicular traffic. Precautionary steps taken to ensure public safety in anticipation of the impending storm resulted in no injuries or accidents at any of the Commission’s three movable bridges.
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“Our people were ready for anything,” Chairman John Comegno said, “but being armed with real-time data that gave us a clear idea of what was happening in such extreme conditions made for truly informed decisions that ultimately provided a safe environment for our customers.”
Days before the storm, Bridge Commissioners ordered staff to institute a response plan and have critical personnel on standby. Maintenance, tolls, and police were briefed on their roles, and provided service to the motoring public throughout the storm.
The Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges were closed for intermittent periods due to high winds; bridges were fully closed to all vehicular traffic from 7:15 PM on Monday 10/29 to 2:30 AM on Tuesday 10/30. Engineers indicated that it was because of the data from sensors installed on the bridges that they were confident determining the timing of intermittent closures and, ultimately, when bridges were safe for travel.
Inspections made after the storm showed no effect to the bridge structures, which confirms data showing more stress to the bridge from the sun coming up than from the hurricane force winds.
“Not only were we prepared for this storm, we also had the right information at the right time,” Comegno said. “Our engineers tell us that the real-time monitoring of our bridges sets us apart from other agencies. All I know is it gave us sight in a blinding storm. And with that vision, we were able to provide safe and efficient travel for those who use our bridges.”
PCNP Joins CBS-3 for 2012 WeatherFest at Franklin Institute
Palmyra Cove Nature Park, in conjunction with CBS Channel 3 and WeatherBug Schools, sponsored 2012 Philly WeatherFest, a STEM-Based Workshop for Educators at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia on November 13th. Kathy Orr, Channel 3 meterologist, and John D. Moore, PCNP’s own Director for Geoscience/STEM Education, presented to approximately 120 teachers who participated.
John D. Moore gave a comprehensive overview of the American Meteorology Society’s DataStream courses and GLOBE Certification Teacher Training Programs offered at Palmyra Cove Nature Park while Kathy Orr and her Weather Team gave a presentation on severe weather forecasting in Philadelphia. A representative of WeatherBug discussed the WeatherBug weather station which is central to the collection of weather data for WeatherBug Schools.
The weather station, which is mounted on school grounds, measures via sensors 27 different parameters that students can monitor in real time including wind, rain, temperature, and lightning. This information can be connected to the internet for easy transmission and with an LCD display installed in the school, the entire school community can benefit.
Sponsors look forward to making WeatherFest an annual event, thereby contributing to the knowledge of weather and climate for educators, students, and the general public.
Businesses Offered Resources & A Positive Message at Economic Summit: “Growing business grows jobs”
Burlington County has a wealth of resources to help businesses and jobs grow, is poised to do well economically in the coming year, and, in fact, the environment for small business is already on the upswing.
That was the message that came out of Burlington County’s Economic Development Summit this week, and it was actually a representative outside the county – Robert Prunetti, President and CEO of the Mercer County-based MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce -- who delivered the most positive overview of all.
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“Business leaders agree that the best way to stimulate the economy and create jobs is to reduce property taxes,” said Prunetti. “Since Burlington County leads the state in reducing property taxes, this is definitely a place where businesses want to come.”
Some 75 business people and municipal officials attended the summit, held at the Roebling Firehouse and Community Center.
Chaired by Burlington County Freeholder Director Bruce Garganio, the summit touched on such topics as low-cost business loan programs, tax credits and financial incentives for hiring new workers, and the collection of helpful business data bases available at Burlington County Library.
“This summit is not just about where we are, but where we are going, and what we need to ensure we are building a strong economic environment heading into 2013,” said Garganio. “It comes down to this: growing business grows jobs.”
Congressman Jon Runyan (R-3rd) provided a positive overview of the Joint Base as the second largest employer in the State, and the continuing source of major military contracts, to such firms as Lockheed Martin, which contribute to the County’s economy. He said communities needed to let Washington know they support the installation.
Alluding to the prospects of another Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission in the future, he said, “We need to go to leadership and let them know we have all these communities that want to be engaged. We should approach this (BRAC) as an opportunity to bring more missions here. This is all about advocacy.”
The summit included formal presentations by Mark Remsa, Director of Economic Development & Regional Planning; Kelly West, Coordinator of Burlington County’s Workforce Investment Board and One-Stop Career Center; Gary Rago, Director of the Small Business Center at Rutgers-Camden; and Joan Divor, Business Services Librarian at Burlington County Library.
Rago’s presentation provided some positive input on the state of small business; he noted that loans offered by the Small Business Administration were up 41 percent for the first half of 2012, as opposed to the same time period in 2011. The dollar value of those loans is also up 32 percent.
“It’s a good sign for everyone that more borrowers are out there that are willing to take a risk,” Rago said.
Prunetti described the employment situation in Burlington County as “very stable,” noting that job numbers have increased, and said the County was particularly well-positioned to do well in defense, retail sales, health care, and finance and insurance.
The MIDJersey Chamber, he said, “wants to be in a growth partnership” with Burlington County.
Powerpoint presentations, and all the programs and services featured, are available on the Burlington County Bridge Commission’s website.
Who Are the Owls of Palmyra Cove?
Find out at the "Owls of Palmyra Cove" to be held Thursday, December 27th at Palmyra Cove Nature Park. The presentation will be followed by an hour-long hike around PCNP in search of our winter residents.
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Reservations required. Contact Ed Sanderson at 856-829-1900, ext. 263, or firstname.lastname@example.org
. Cost is $5 per person, FREE for PCNP members.
Can't make this Owl Prowl? Make plans to attend the January 24th and/or February 21st events, weather permitting. The January Owl Prowl will feature a live owl presentation from Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge!