In today’s daily 5 Things You Need to Know feature, ThisWeekinWorcester.com explores five important items and stories that Worcester and Central Massachusetts residents should keep a close eye on.
These five things can cover a whole range of subjects and issues that we feel are pertinent to understanding what’s going on in the city and the cities and towns surrounding Worcester.
In today’s edition – January 14, 2021 – the Boys & Girls Club needs help stocking their pantry, Governor Charlie Baker has refiled unemployment insurance legislation, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office graduates 14 new officers, Notre Dame Academy receives two AEDs, and we have some online selling tips from the Better Business Bureau.
Boys & Girls Club of Worcester in Need of Food Pantry Donations
The Boys & Girls Club of Worcester needs to restock their food pantry and they’re asking for your help. Items can be dropped on Tuesday and Thursday from 10 AM to 2 PM at 65 Tainter St.
The club needs the following items donated:
- Bisquick pancake and baking mix
- Canned chicken and tuna
- Canned meals (ravioli, Beef-a-Roni, etc..)
- Fruit cups, pudding cups and kid snacks
- Cooking oil and salad dressing
- Jelly and Fluff (peanut butter is not needed at this time)
- Powdered drink mixes
- All-purpose cleaner
- Laundry detergent
- Toilet paper, paper towels, tissues
- Body wash, lotion, shampoo/conditioner
Baker Refiles Unemployment Insurance Legislation
Governor Charlie Baker re-filed unemployment insurance legislation on Wednesday, January 13, that was initially filed last month.
The Governor’s legislation aims to sustain unemployment benefits and provide an estimated $1.3 billion in unemployment insurance relief to the Commonwealth’s employers over two years.
The main provisions of this legislation include:
Short Term Employer Tax Relief through a two-year tax schedule freeze –
- Current Massachusetts unemployment legislative statute requires the employer tax schedule to increase from schedule E to schedule G. This would cause an average per employee tax increase from $539 to $866 – a nearly 60% increase over the previous year. Remaining on schedule E for 2021 and 2022 slows annual employer contribution growth from $539 average per employee costs in 2020 to $635 in 2021 and $665 in 2022.
Authorization for the issuance of special obligation bonds for the purposes of repaying federal advances –
- In order to fund the unprecedented increases in demand on the unemployment system in Massachusetts as a result of COVID-19, the Commonwealth has received federal cash advances. Through the issuance of bonds, the Commonwealth will be able to ensure positive trust fund solvency to enable the continued payment of benefits. The utilization of capital markets also allows Massachusetts to avoid paying punitive federal tax increases on employers regardless of their experience rating if federal advances are not repaid by November of 2022.
Establishes an employer surcharge on contributory employers –
- In 2020 all federal advances taken to pay benefits are interest free. However, interest on federal advances will begin to be charged beginning in January of 2021. The first interest payment is due in the Fall of 2021 and it cannot be paid from the state unemployment trust fund, per federal law. To fund interest payments on repayable advances, the legislation also establishes a separate fund to house surcharge proceeds. The passage of this provision authorizes the Department of Unemployment Assistance to make this assessment but does not require the surcharge if interest is waived through future federal legislation.
Worcester County Sheriff’s Office Graduates New Class of Recruits
Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis announced the second class of recruits to graduate from the sheriff’s department training academy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Basic Recruit Training Academy #54 includes fourteen new correctional officers, with four members who are military or still-serving reservists in the United States Army and Army National Guard. Among the newest class of correctional officers, five hail from the city of Worcester.
They are: Officer Cesar Arcentales, Officer Nicholas Lavoie, Officer Joseph Lundberg, Officer Sheneika Rochester and Officer Roberto Ortega.
All correctional officer applicants must have, at minimum, an associates degree or at least two years of military service. They must also take and pass a written exam, physical fitness test, background check and psychological screening test. United States military applicants are given priority status in the hiring process.
Two Defibrillators Donated to Notre Dame Academy
The Josh Thibodeau Helping Hearts Foundation has donated two automated external defibrillators [AEDs] to Notre Dame Academy.
The Josh Thibodeau Helping Hearts Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness in preventing sudden cardiac arrest in children and adolescents and providing charitable assistance to individuals, families, and organizations.
The organization was founded in 2011 in memory of twelve-year-old Josh Thibodeau who died of cardiac arrest while enjoying his favorite sport and past-time, soccer.
The Notre Dame athletic department partnered with the Worcester Fire Department to provide CPR/AED training to their coaching staff and interested NDA faculty members. Students in Mrs. Burke’s grade 10 health class also learn hands-free CPR and all are trained on the use of the AEDs.
Tips for Online Selling from BBB
When you have gently used clothing, furniture, home items, or electronics that you aren’t using anymore, turning to online marketplaces is a popular resource.
The Better Business Bureau has the following tips to avoid online perils:
- Choose an appropriate platform. Nerdwallet recommends that “before you sell stuff online to make extra money, determine the ideal venue for your goods.” There are dozens of online marketplaces to choose from, but many of them focus on a specific kind of used goods, such as electronics or designer clothing.
- Know the worth of your items and price appropriately. To determine the value of an item you want to sell, Consumer Reports suggests searching for similar items on the site where you plan to list. On auction sites, look at completed sales and pay attention to the selling price rather than the minimum bid price. If you are selling an item that was never used and is still in its original packaging, remember that technically it is still coming to the buyer second-hand, so you’ll need to charge a little less than the original retail value if you want to make a sale.
- Get appraisals for high value items. If you are selling jewelry made with precious metals or stones, get an official appraisal before you list or sell the items. Keep in mind that jewelers may give you a lower price quote as they intend to make profit on a resale. If you are in possession of antiques or artwork that is worth over a thousand dollars, consider getting a written opinion on the item’s worth from a professional appraiser.
- Make a quality listing. Without a good listing, you may not sell your item. NBC News advises putting care into the photos you take of an item. Make sure the images are clear and accurately show the item’s color, form, and other key details.
- Prepare items for sale. Before you pack your item for shipping, clean it thoroughly. If you are planning on selling multiple items online and want to keep buyers coming back, put some love into your packaging as well.
- Understand the fees. Each online marketplace has its own set of fees, which can vary quite a bit from platform to platform. Before you sign up, take some time to read the fine print and understand whether you’ll pay a percentage of your sale, a flat rate, or both and how the fees are collected. In addition, find out how many sales each platform allows you to make each month.
- Watch out for shady buyers. Con artists often pose as buyers in scams. Sometimes they offer to overpay for an item, but that’s not their only tactic. Beware of buyers who ask you to make transactions outside of the selling platform or those who ask for personal information, such as your banking information.
- Be extra cautious when making local sales. Some platforms allow you to meet up with people in your local area to exchange your item for cash in person. While this can be an effective way to sell big items and avoid marketplace fees, use caution when meeting up with strangers.
- Always protect your personal information. As you sell items online, keep your sensitive personal information under lock and key. Avoid communicating with buyers outside of the online platform you are using to make the sale and don’t give out your home address, phone number, or email address.