Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Free Tax Preparation

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteers provide FREE income tax preparation assistance to low-income, elderly, disabled and limited English speaking people. This excellent program helps income-eligible households have taxes prepared free of charge. Household income is generally under $54,000.  

VITA Sites available in Troy: 
1. Troy’s Weed and Seed Program offers assistance on Wed 12-5, Thurs 6-9 and Sat 10-2 at the Italian Community Center.  

2. CEO offers tax preparation assistance on Tues and Thurs 4-8pm  (Tues and Wed 12-4 for AARP/seniors only).

To locate the other VITA sites, call 1-800-829-1040.

Trained community volunteers can help with special credits, such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. In addition to free tax return preparation assistance, most sites also offer free electronic filing (e-filing).
Certified volunteers sponsored by various organizations receive training to help prepare basic tax returns in communities across the country. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations.

Volunteers are also needed. Training is provided.  For more information, or if you would like to help, please contact Colleen Goldston at 857-6471.

Troy Hoping to Partner with Google

An article in Friday’s The Record announced that Mayor Tutunjian “plans to respond to a request for information from Google relating to the company’s recently-announced plans to build and test ultra-high speed broadband networks in communities across the nation.” Google plans to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks that will provide speeds up to 100 times faster than typical service, with download speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second through fiber-optic connections. Troy intends to respond to Google’s RFI, which is the first step in the company’s process of selecting test communities.
Councilman Ken Zalewski, D-District 5, is also hoping that Google will choose Troy as a trial location. He has listed several steps, below, that community members can take to help build support for the proposal, which is one of the factors that Google will consider in selecting trial communities.
What you can do:
1. Spread the word.  Forward this article to everyone you know in the city. Talk to your neighbors and friends.  Encourage local business, education, and government officials to get involved.  Our Mayor is already on board and the city will be submitting a response to the RFI.  To have RPI, Sage, and HVCC administrators behind this would add more strength to our submission.

2. Nominate Troy. Go to, click on "Nominate your community", and submit your response.  You will answer some questions about yourself, your neighborhood/community, your reasons for wanting this, and your current Internet service.  Creative submissions are encouraged, including videos.

3. Become a Facebook fan.  Join the new Facebook page created for this effort at:

According to Councilmember Zalewski, “A Google broadband roll-out would be huge for our city.  It would not only bring low-cost high-speed Internet service to many households, it would also bring a tremendous amount of positive attention to our community.  My ultimate goal is to work with Google in opening a satellite office on our riverfront.  Imagine replacing some of the old derelict industrial buildings on the riverfront with a new, modern office complex that creates potentially hundreds of new jobs. Getting Google to come to Troy is the first step..."

Please join in the effort!

Monday, February 15, 2010

New York's Great Appliance Swap Out

The “Great Appliance Swap Out” is a stimulus-funded program run by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The 10-day program begins February 12th and lasts through February 21st or until the $16.8 million available statewide for rebates runs out.

This is a nationwide program designed to provide incentives for the purchase of Energy Star-rated products, by providing consumers rebates for purchasing new energy efficient appliances and swapping out their old ones. The goals include reducing energy waste and stimulating retail sales. “Now is a great time to take advantage of the state’s rebates for refrigerators, stoves, and other costly appliances to save you some money and help the environment.” President and CEO of NYSERDA Francis J. Murray said “New Yorkers have an unprecedented opportunity to save money on energy efficient appliances that could save them hundreds of dollars a year in energy costs. I encourage New Yorkers to take advantage of this opportunity and to help New York achieve the ambitious energy efficiency goals that Governor Paterson has set for us.”

Shoppers can choose either the single appliance rebate option, under which they get $75 for a refrigerator or $105 when also recycling the old one, $75 for a clothes washer ($100 with recycling) and $50 for a freezer ($75 with recycling). Or they can choose the bundled option, where they purchase a refrigerator, clothes washer and dishwasher, and receive $500, or $555 if they recycle their old appliances. The program also provides for the removal of old appliances and consumers will receive the recycling certificate they'll need along with the purchase receipt to qualify for their rebate.

Rebates are only available for dishwashers when purchased as a bundle with at least 2 other energy efficient-rated appliances.

The guidelines for the program include:
• Consumers must be New York State residents;
• Replacement appliances must meet specified ENERGY STAR standards;
• Replacement appliances must be for individual residences;
• Consumers must submit in writing that purchased appliances are replacing existing appliances; and
• Proof of recycling of the replaced appliance must be submitted to NYSERDA.

Rebate forms will be available at or through NYSERDA’s hotline at 1-877-NY-SMART. More information is also available by visiting