Some bad news for our nonprofits

Afraid I need to start today with some bad news for our nonprofits.
 
It appears plans to restore charitable donations as a state income tax deduction will be punted for another year -- just when nonprofits and charities could especially use it.
 
Voters first restored the deduction in 2000.
 
But the charitable deduction was put on hold by a 2002 state law until the state hit a series of economic triggers that also gradually reduced the income tax rate to 5 percent.
 
The deduction was set finally to take effect on Jan. 1, 2021. But that date was delayed last year as lawmakers sought to capture as much revenue as possible in the middle of the pandemic.
 
And now both Gov. Charlie Baker’s and the just-released House Ways and Means Committee’s proposed 2020 budgets, once again, take away scheduled tax deductions, reports Colin A. Young at State House News.
 
"Huge numbers of nonprofits are still on the brink financially," said Massachusetts Nonprofit Network CEO Jim Klocke tells Young.
 
"They're trying to rebuild their fundraising, they had to cancel in many cases the spring and summer and fall fundraising events they would have done last year and, frankly, anything we can do to promote giving will help this year."
 
 
Guv delays UI bills due date
 
You can hold off on writing that Unemployment Insurance check.
 
For now.
 
The Baker administration is giving Massachusetts employers until June 1 to pay their UI tax bills, following outcry over an unexpended increase.
 
The Q1 bills would have been due April 30, which remains the deadline for filing your regular wage reports. (BBJ storyGlobe story)
 
Virtually everyone – from employers to legislative leaders – were stunned when the bills arrived last week, reflecting a nearly 1,600% year-over-year increase to the “solvency rate” charge shared by all employers whether or not they laid off or furloughed any workers in the past year.
 
This new extension doesn’t mean your business is off the hook. You still owe it unless the governor and lawmakers agree to rewrite the state law that mandates the increase and finds another source to close the gap.
 
If tradition holds, that means we'll be waiting until the last possible day before we know.
 
If you have specific questions about your bill, contact DUA Employer Customer Service.
 
 
Big news. Short sentence.
 
The Needham Sheraton Hotel – which has been closed and sold since the shutdown – has announced plans to reopen May 1. That's all I know.
 
 
Our food insecurity program hits another milestone
 
According to Project Bread, the number of families who are food insecure in the state has doubled.
 
That includes many families and individuals in our west suburban communities.
 
This week our program that purchases meals from restaurants for those with food insecurity continued with deliveries to individual households in Newton who might otherwise not have access to meal programs.
 
One hundred meals from The Village Cafe were delivered to residents’ doorsteps, along with ongoing weekly deliveries of 500-plus meals from The Biltmore, Paddy’s Pub, Tartufo, Johnny’s and other restaurant partners to food pantries, senior center and other nonprofit distribution sites.
 
Once again, volunteers from the Newton Rotary are coordinating these efforts. We could not do this without them.
 
In Wellesley meals from Juniper, Old School Pizza, Fiorellas, Riceberg and Papa Razzi have been on the menu for rotating deliveries to households in Wellesley, coordinated by the town and volunteers.
 
Deliveries to the Brookline Food Pantry, coordinated by the Brookline Chamber have begun too, with Needham meals, distributed by the Council on Aging, starting soon.
 
The program is funded by federal CARES funds through a state earmark secured by Sen. Cindy Creem. So far over $75,000 worth of meals have been purchased and delivered from over 50 local independent restaurants.

 
Need to knows
 
  • Labshares Newton has 24 unused COVID-19 tests that they no longer need (due to vaccines) and would be happy to donate them to someone who needs them.  Email Jeff Behrens
  • The Newton Community Freedge -- a free, outdoor refrigerator and pantry located in the parking lot of Central Drapery and Dry Cleaning, 420 Watertown Street in Nonantum -- is in need of donations from individuals and businesses. Guidelines are here. To understand how amazing this effort is, follow the Freedge on Facebook.
  • UMass Amherst’s Massachusetts Small Business Development Center provides free, confidential, one-to-one business assistance and free and low-cost training to prospective and existing small businesses. Schedule a virtual meeting here.
 
Watertown Charter review nixes mayoral system
 
Watertown’s Charter Review Committee has overwhelmingly decided not to endorse switching to a mayor/town council form of government.
 
The group voted 13-1 to keep its town manager/town council system, the Watertown TAB reports.
 
Watertown has had a council-manager form of government since 1980, a role Mike Driscoll has held for 28 years. The CRC is required to meet every 10 years to review its forms of government.
 
Newton has a new top cop
 
Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller has selected John F. Carmichael Jr., the chief in Walpole since 2015, to run the city’s police force. Carmichael starts in June.
 
“Chief Carmichael has a proven track record of moving the Walpole Police Department forward based on collaborative partnerships between the department and people across the community,” Fuller wrote in an announcement.
 
“Chief Carmichael honors and welcomes inclusivity, including resident input in setting the agenda for the police department," she added. "As Chief in Walpole, a department which is not part of the civil service system, he intentionally increased the diversity of its members.”
 
Restaurant owners get a peek at fed relief rules
 
We still don't know when the SBA will start accepting applications for its Restaurant Revitalization Fund grants.
 
But the agency has posted what appears to be a draft of the proposed application here.
 
If this draft mirrors the final version (and remember how there were many “final” guidelines issued for the PPP) restaurants will be allowed to spend the grant proceeds through March 11, 2023 writes Andy Medici for the BBJ.
 
The program’s grants are supposed to be first-come, first-serve. But Congress is restricting applications for the first 21 days to restaurants owned by women, people of color, veterans, or socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses.
 
For brewpubs, tasting rooms or inns to qualify for the grant program, at least 33% of gross receipts must come from on-site sales of food and beverages.
 
The SBA estimates that it would take 45 minutes to complete the application (30 minutes to gather the documents, 15 minutes to prepare and submit) and then another hour for Grub Hub to show up (kidding).
 
 
What do you long for?
 
Needham Town Manager Kate Fitzpatrick is looking to crowd source a poem about our cities and towns.
 
“My goal is to create an aspirational poem – not one about what we like, or what we wish for, but what we long for,” she writes in her always-thoughtful Very Kate blog.
 
"If I had to predict, I would say the poem will include a lot of longing for public civility," she adds.
 
"I challenge you, Relentless Practice readers, to send me your one sentence dream for your city – what you long for.”
 
 
 
No chamber newsletter next week
 
There’s no Boston Marathon this Monday. (The traditional 11 a.m. Red Sox start is still on, but without runners pouring through Kenmore Square and minimal crowds at Fenway, what exactly is the point?)
 
But April 19 is still the BIG DAY when all Massachusetts adults become eligible to book a vaccine.
 
The chamber office will be closed Monday. And I’ll be off all of next week, (just decided I won't be going to New Hampshire).
 
That means you and I both get a vacation from these chamber newsletters. I’ll be back in your inbox on Tuesday April 27.
 
See you on the other side. Stay dry.
 
 
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.
 
 
P.S. Thanks to everyone who volunteered yesterday to assist with our program to book vaccines for frontline food service workers. Really appreciate the enthusiasm and so do our restaurants.

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