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With the holiday shopping season here, the Westchester County Department of Consumer Protection wants to make your holiday shopping a little less stressful this year.“No matter what the price of a gift purchase, it’s important that people make informed purchases,” said County Executive Robert P. Astorino. “Consumers can make life easier on themselves by remembering these holiday shopping tips, whether shopping in a brick and mortar store or using the Internet.”·         Comparison shop for the best price; find out all you can about an item before you purchase it.·         Know the refund policy of the merchant you are buying from. In a retail store, the refund policy must be posted at the point of sale.·         If an advertised sale item is not available, ask for a rain check; you’re entitled to it.·         When making purchases, keep your receipts together and organized. Quickly retrieve your credit cards after using them. If you pay by credit card, the credit card company can help you when you have a dispute with a merchant.   ·         Find out the warranty information about a product before you purchase it. It varies from product to product. Sometimes warranties are offered by the merchant as well as the manufacturer and your credit card company.·         Online shopping offers may conveniences. However, shop with companies you know, or which have provided good service to people you know.  Look for a written description of the company’s refund and exchange policy. When shopping online, make sure the Web site is secure before entering your personal or financial information.  Secure Web sites begin with https:// rather than just http://. Contact the Department of Consumer Protection if you are experiencing a problem with a purchase at (914)995-2155, by e-mail at or via the Web at 





Mae Carpenter is panelist at program on long-term care services and supports


More funds and programs are needed immediately to help family caregivers provide for the aging population because the situation is critical, Commissioner Mae Carpenter of Westchester County’s Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS) told Congressional staff members earlier this week at a panel in Washington, D.C.

During a session in the Senate Dirksen Office Building on “Innovation and Progress in Long-Term Services and Supports” sponsored by AARP and The Hill, a daily newspaper in the nation’s capital, Carpenter described what the county has done to meet this serious need and what more must be done.

Carpenter was invited to appear before the group due to her national reputation as one of the most knowledgeable and innovative advocates on behalf of seniors in the country.

According to Carpenter, the need for more caregivers is dire – and increasing – in Westchester, where one in five people  (20 percent) are 60 or over and almost 15 percent are 65 or older.

However, as she noted in her remarks, there is often no family caregiver available to help with aging or disabled relatives, as many women work full time and many adult children have moved away. Those that do care for their loved ones are under enormous stress and quickly become overwhelmed and burned out.

As a result, volunteers, neighbors and the seniors themselves must help care for each other.

Carpenter told the Congressional staff that DSPS, in conjunction with the Westchester Public/Private Partnership for Aging Services, has developed two initiatives specifically for caregivers that are helping to ease their burden and better face their challenges. The programs, both part of the department’s Livable Communities Initiative, are low-cost because they primarily work through volunteers and are already being replicated in other parts of the country. They are:

·         The Caregiver Coach program, where volunteers are trained by professionals to provide one-on-one support to family caregivers to help them understand what options they have.

·         The Care Circles of Westchester:  Step Forward and Give Back program, with circles of  people who volunteer to share caregiving tasks of daily living for an older person in the community that cannot be met with public funds. The idea is to create the physical and emotional support families traditionally provide that seniors are able to continue to live in their homes.

Carpenter, who speaks around the country on caregiver issues, has long maintained that these initiatives are essential. She frequently cites a report from AARP’s Public Policy Institute, which said that because the number of family caregivers will drop considerably in coming years, more people will be dependent on fewer caregivers.

 The report said that at the end of 2010, there were 7.2 potential caregivers age 45 to 64 for every person 80 and older. And over the next two decades as the baby boomers become the population that will need caregivers, the pool of potential caregivers drops to 4.1 people for every 80-plus person. 

Carpenter also maintains that society must realize the enormous dollar value of the work family caregivers provide.  She said that AARP estimates that every year since 2009, 62 million family caregivers nationwide have provided the equivalent of $450 billion in paid work.

“We need more options to support family caregivers,” she said.

Tax Department Launches Statewide STAR Registration


Program will save New York taxpayers millions by eliminating inappropriate exemptions; Central New York will be first to receive letters

The New York State Tax Department today unveiled an easy, fast and secure online STAR Registration platform for homeowners currently receiving the Basic STAR property tax exemption.   The system will facilitate Governor Cuomo’s 2013-14 Budget initiative to save New York taxpayers millions by eliminating inappropriate STAR property tax exemptions.

The STAR Program provides 2.6 million homeowners with savings on their school property tax bills each year, but is only available for an individual’s or family’s primary residence. The Governor’s initiative follows a Tax Department investigation that showed some homeowners were receiving the exemption on more than one property.  

“This balanced approach protects the integrity of the STAR program and guards taxpayer dollars from those who seek to game the system,” said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.  “The registration program provides an accessible, convenient and secure way for qualified homeowners to retain their exemption.”

 “Local assessors monitor Basic STAR in their communities, but do not have the ability to know if an individual is receiving STAR in any of the other 1,000 localities statewide,” said Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Thomas H. Mattox. “This is the first registration in the STAR Program’s 15-year history, and it will eliminate inappropriate and fraudulent exemptions.”

Easy Registration Online or by Phone

The Tax Department is mailing letters to all 2.6 million Basic STAR recipients.  The letter includes registration instructions for the Department’s online application.  It also provides homeowners with a telephone number for registration or questions – 518-457-2036.

The deadline for completing the registration is .

Letters are being delivered to all Basic STAR recipients in the following Central New York counties this week: Broome, Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Tioga and Tompkins. The statewide mailing schedule is available online.

Senior Citizens Receiving Enhanced STAR Not Impacted

The registration applies only to Basic STAR recipients; senior citizens receiving the Enhanced STAR exemption are not impacted.  In order to continue receiving Enhanced STAR, seniors must continue to apply annually or participate in the Income Verification Program.  

Eligibility for Basic STAR

The Basic STAR exemption is available for owner-occupied, primary residences where the combined income of resident owners and their spouses is $500,000 or less. Married couples with multiple residences are only eligible to receive one Basic STAR exemption.  

The average homeowner benefit as a result of Basic STAR is $700 annually. Statewide, total savings are nearly $1.9 billion each year. The Basic and Enhanced STAR exemptions are the only property tax exemptions reimbursed by New York State.

Registration Affects Exemptions in 2014 and Beyond

The registration program will impact Basic STAR exemptions for 2014 and beyond; it does not impact 2013 exemptions. Homeowners will not have to re-register every year – based on the information provided in the registration process, the Tax Department will monitor homeowners’ eligibility in future years.


For more information


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Volume 15, Issue 10
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