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January 16, 2013

National tax-prep firm adds local presence

The Daily Star

---- — Liberty Tax, which bills itself as the fastest-grown national tax-preparation firm, now has a franchise in Oneonta.

“The addition of this franchise enable this, as a whole, to competitively serve the early filer and quick refund seekers and further broadens the services that we offer,” said Donald Benson, who is partnering with Richard Dickson in the venture at 28 Oneida St.

Benson is owner of Donald Benson CPA and a partner in Benson and Gunther Financial, both in Oneonta.

Liberty competes with other industry giants, such as H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt, but Benson said it markets itself differently. It has about 4,000 offices in the United States and Canada.

“We have more of a personal touch where go we meet people face to face,” Benson said. “We send out marketers to meet business people and promote our business that way.”

The business also has a kiosk in Southside Mall through the end of February, he said.

“This is a fairly predictable type of business,” Benson said.

“Our busiest times are probably between Jan. 15 and Feb. 16. So … as we get toward the end of February, business starts to taper off a bit, going into March 15, and then as you get toward April 15, the last-minute people come in, and it picks up again.”

The franchise has 10 tax preparers, Benson said, and will be open seven days a week.

Cobleskill fund lauded

Money magazine has named the FAM Value Fund to its Money 70 list of fund in its January edition.

The mutual fund, administered by Fenimore Asset Management of Cobleskill, is one of the mutual funds an investor should consider when assembling “a high-quality, long-term portfolio using low-cost investments,” according to the magazine.

The fund has been on Money’s list of recommended mutual funds for eight consecutive years.

“It’s an honor to be on the Money 70,” said John Fox, the fund’s co-manager.

Pizzeria ribbon cutting

Umberto’s, a new pizzeria in the Southside Mall, will hold a ribbon-cutting Thursday night in cooperation with the Otsego County Chamber.

Owners Robert and Barbara Romano and son Robert Romano Jr. will be present at the event, which will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Free samples from Umberto’s menu will be available, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Chamber nominations

The Otsego County Chamber is still accepting nominiations — including self-nominations — for its NBT Distinguished Business of the Year Award.

Submissions may be sent to Barbara Ann Heegan, the chamber’s executive director, at or via an online form at BusinessNominationForm.pdf.

Nominations should include the nominee’s name and business address, along with a list of the business’s community involvement and how it demonstrates successful business and economic growth in Otsego County.

Businesses with at least 50 full-time employees are eligible.

The top four nominees will all be invited to attend the chamber’s annual dinner and celebration at the SUNY Oneonta Hunt Union Ballroom on March 22, when the winner will be announced.

The chamber is also accepting nominations for the Eugene A. Bettiol Jr. Distinguished Citizen Award. The award is given to a resident of Otsego County who has made long-term contributions to the community.

Stray voltage tests

NYSEG’s Oneonta Division is among the areas where the utility and RG&E, subsidiaries of Iberdrola USA, are testing the power infrastructure for stray voltage, as required by the New York State Public Service Commission.

“The safety of our employees and customers is our top priority every day,” said Mark S. Lynch, president of NYSEG and RG&E. “Since 2005, stray voltage testing has been a regular practice to help us ensure public safety.”

The testing, across 20,000 square miles of NYSEG and RG&E service area, involves hundreds of thousands of pieces of equipment from transmission, distribution, streetlight poles and traffic signals to substation fences, pad-mounted transformers and manhole covers.

Stray voltage is an electric current in the earth, or in ground water, resulting from the grounding of electrical equipment or an electrical distribution system.

To suggest a business story, announce a new business or changes to an existing one, email details to or call Richard Whitby 432-1000, ext. 221.