It's Your Money: Utility costs update

Posted at: 02/13/2013 5:24 PM
By: Ray Levato

News10NBC has a follow up on a story we first told you about when Governor Cuomo unveiled his proposed new budget. It has to do with the two percent utility surcharge you pay on your gas and electric bill every month.
The utility surcharge was adopted in 2009 to help fill a gap in the state budget  and it's set to expire at the end of 2013. But it brings in more than $500-million a year and Governor Cuomo wants to extend it for another five years.

If you weren’t aware of the surcharge, it's not surprising. It's kind of buried in your RG&E or NYSEG bill, along with a bunch of other charges that are hard to understand. RG&E says it just collects the tax, which can range from a dollar or two a month to about four dollars.

Republicans in the New York State Senate chided the governor for not removing this surcharge from his budget. That's because Tuesday was the deadline for Governor Cuomo to make changes in the budget he submitted to the legislature in January.
Dean Skelos, (R) Senate GOP Leader, said, We've reduced taxes and made important investments in job creation projects across the state. But extending this tax would be a step backwards. New Yorkers already pay some of the highest utility rates in the country, and this is an opportunity to give them a break.”

State Senator Mike Nozzolio calls the utility surcharge a job killing utility tax. Think of what a large company pays each month in utility costs. Senator Nozzolio says a two percent surcharge could be the difference in whether those companies decide to hire more people or not.

Governor Cuomo said he would listen to alternatives to make up that $500 million if the surcharge is let to expire. The senate republicans say they're willing to sit down and talk about ways to do that. By the way,  this utility surcharge will take an estimated $2.8 billion  out of the state's economy over the next five years.