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Talking money in the Ridge

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli came to Bay Ridge on Thursday, September 26, to speak at a business breakfast hosted by the local Chapter 41 of the American Hellenic Educational Progressives Association (AHEPA)—an international Greek American advocacy group.

“One of the fundamental concepts that AHEPA is built upon is civic responsibility and what better way than to meet elected and appointed officials, ask questions, and have breakfast,” said AHEPA Chapter 41 Vice President George Georgaklis.

On DiNapoli’s agenda for the morning discussion was to provide an overview of the state’s finances and how they pertain to Brooklyn and New York City’s economic outlook for the coming year.

“I always love to come to Brooklyn, which is such a dynamic part of the city and state. This is a great opportunity to update [this community] on where we’re at in the city [because] there’s always so much going on,” said DiNapoli, whose family is from East New York. “As we still struggle to get the economy back on track, speaking with groups like these will help.”

DiNapoli’s first item of business was to clarify what exactly a comptroller does. “I’m the chief financial officer for the state, so we deal with payroll, contracts, audits, pension funds—five for New York City, one for state teachers, and one for everyone else,” he explained.

His talk touched on the economy and job growth, Wall Street, Hurricane Sandy’s aftereffects, the sequester, plans for upstate New York, general goals, pension funds, the Marcellus Shale, SUNY and unclaimed funds. Among his observations:

•“We have the lowest unemployment percentage since February 2009. [However,] the city average for unemployment (8.7 percent) is higher than the state average (7.9 percent).”

•“Private sector jobs rebounded significantly,” “government and the public sector continues to downsize,” and “we have gained jobs over what was lost, but salaries are lower.”

•“Housing markets are on the rise in New York City” and “there is increased consumer confidence.”

•Wall Street and the financial industry are “still in transition and bonuses are up eight percent.”

•The sequester could mean a “loss of $5 billion” in the next several years.

•There are plans for possible casinos in the Catskills, Southern Tier and Albany-areas.

•The Marcellus Shale continues to spark “great debate” and the Environmental Impact Study has not yet been released by the Department of Health,” but “with an election coming, there will probably be no decision soon.”

•“We need a world class transportation system in the event of a storm, plus sewer and water infrastructure, as well.”

•“New York is an old state. We must invest in infrastructure. Bridges are structurally deficient and the Tappan Zee Bridge is a high priority.”

•Visit the comptroller’s website to see if you or a relative has unclaimed funds from a past bank account, at http://www.osc.state.ny.us/ouf/.

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