AARP stated on Monday that heating bills for the state of New York could raise more than 13 percent this year. Currently New York’s electricity bills are 60 percent above the National average, the second highest in the Country. AARP State Director Beth Finkel stated that the higher heating bills will cause problems for seniors because many have to choose between paying for heat and paying for prescriptions. Natural gas bills are expected to cost $679 this winter, and while oil heating will drop 2 percent the bills will reach $2,046. According to Chairwoman of the Public Service Commission Audrey Zibelman their greatest concern is to continue a reliable supply of natural gas since the number of customers using it is increasing. According to studies done by the AARP older residents with an income lower than $20,000 a year is at risk since most of the income goes towards heating bills. The Federal Home Energy Assistance Program gives 90 million dollars to low income residents, though funding for this year was cut 204 million dollars. The program gives residents anywhere from $400 to $600 for heating bills on a first come, first serve basis and applications can be sent in starting November 18.
The Clarkstown Town Board and the Board of Education voted unanimously at a meeting last night to refund 20 million dollars to the Palisades Center Mall. The settlement states that the school district will return 13 million dollars to the mall, the town will pay 5 million, and the county 2 million dollars. For the agreement the mall must generate 21 million dollars in taxes for the next four years. In recent years the mall has paid around 23.4 million a year in taxes. The agreement will last seven years and within that time the mall cannot request a change of the settlement. The shopping center originally asked for a refund of 30 million dollars in 2009. According to Supervisor Alex Gromack this settlement is the best for all parties, with the town and school boards agreeing that it was a fair compromise. The mall stated that they will give the majority of the money received to its tenants. Many taxpayers feel that the agreement is unfair to the town, stating that since the mall is doing major renovations it must have the money.