By Mark Hallum
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) held a town hall with the Bayside Business Association to discuss ways of improving commerce with the help of the state government.
The event space in the country club at Clearview Golf Course was filled by about 30 prominent members of the community, who discussed issues such as the lack of funds for organizations like the BBA in the state budget and funding initiatives for the community.
“Probably the hardest part of the job is weighing all the budget requests and priorities,” Avella said. “I don’t think I’ve ever come across a group that wasn’t worthy of funding. The problem is there’s only so much money.”
According to Avella, some of the progress in the FY 2019 state budget, which has yet to pass both houses, includes an expansion to the Excelsior Jobs Program.
It offers a 6 percent tax credit to qualifying businesses that add new jobs and other investments.
Up to $150 million was included in the proposed budget for the Regional Economic Development Councils and funds were also included for the Youth Jobs Program, which offers a tax credit to businesses that hire people between 16 and 24.
Avella said he is working to have anti-graffiti funds included in the budget to pay painters to go through neighborhoods and mask vandalism marks free of charge to business owners.
City Council members receive a set amount of discretionary funds to be allocated to groups in their communities. As a state senator,Avella does not have a similar program for discretionary spending, he said.
If he did, he claimed would use his office to fund programs for the BBA.
Judith Limpert, who has been the BBA president for over 20 years, said the organization would like to find funding for a “Welcome to Bayside” sign and dedicate trees to deceased members of the community.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall