NYS Assemblyman Sean Ryan (left) and Hamburg business owner Jeff Giovino talk in front of Giovino’s restaurant (Coyote Café) on Thursday, July 12. Ryan visited Giovino to discuss the Interest Assessment Surcharge that all New York State business owners must pay.
Jeff Giovino is tired of paying money to the state he doesn’t believe he should owe.
When the 18-year owner of Coyote Café in Hamburg received his latest bill from the Department of Labor for an “interest assessment surcharge,” he contacted NYS Assemblyman Sean Ryan to see what could be done.
“This is a really serious issue that affects Jeff, but as well as 22,000 other businesses in Erie County, and about 1,200 in Hamburg,” said Ryan, who met with Giovino at his restaurant on Thursday, July 12.
During the peak of the recession, New York State borrowed money from the federal government to pay for unemployment benefits. With the state still owing $2.7 billion to the federal government, in 2011 it began billing employers with a yearly “interest assessment surcharge” to cover the interest payments.
For 2012, the bill is $102 million and must be paid by the end of September. Regardless of size, every New York State business must pay a maximum of $12.75 per employee to cover the Interest Assessment Surcharge.
“It’s just become really frustrating,” said Giovino, who estimates that he has had to pay nearly $1,000 for the surcharge so far. He said that owning his business has been challenging over the years, with obstacles like the Route 62 construction project, the economic recession and the subsequent raise in prices it brought.
“There is just one thing after another. I don’t know where to start,” he said.
Ryan said he believes it is not the responsibility of the business owners to shoulder payments owed by the state.
“New York State borrowed the money from the federal government and I think New York State should be responsible for paying off that interest,” said Ryan. “The New York State Department of Labor, in my opinion, should not be passing the buck, or in this case, the bucks, onto the backs of small businesses in Western New York.”
Ryan wrote a letter to the New York State Department of Labor, urging it come up with an alternative way to pay its debt.
“It’s shocking to me that the Department of Labor did not plan for this expense during this year’s budget,” said Ryan, who added that at the very least, the state should use a different budget line to cover the cost owed to the federal government in September, and allow employers more time to pay the interest fees.
“New York State has been making a lot of good strides since the election of Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo to make our state more friendly to business,” said Ryan. “Actions like this make it harder, rather than easier, to do business in New York State.”
Assemblyman Ryan represents the new 149th district, which includes portions of Buffalo and Lackawanna, as well as the Villages of Hamburg and Blasdell and the Town of Hamburg.