Senator David Carlucci is looking to reduce taxes for commuters in the Lower Hudson Valley, through a proposed plan that would make them eligible for $250 in tax credit. According to Carlucci New York State has the nation’s highest tolls and he will be working with other legislators to set up details, such as who would be eligible, minimum toll thresholds, and how much money it would cost the state, in hopes that the bill will be ready for next year’s budget. According to The Journal News, commuters with the Tappan Zee commuter plan pay $60 a month, or $720 a year, and that is expected to rise. Carlucci’s proposed plan would give the 22,000 people signed up a thirty-five percent tax break. The Port Authority recently approved a rise in bridge and tunnel tolls for 2015, according to John Corlett, Chairman of the Legislative Committee for AAA New York State, the proposal is a worthy idea that would provide relief for a majority of the lower Hudson Valley commuters, who can spend up to $2,500 a year. Executive Director of the Tristate Transportation campaign, Veronica Vanterpool, stated that state officials should be looking for ways to improve transit, such as added bus services, not “Using state funds for toll tax breaks.”
The Spring Valley village board voted Tuesday to change the terms of lifetime health insurance for trustees from those who have served two consecutive terms to all trustees who have served at least two terms, consecutive or not. The resolution was proposed by Mayor Delhomme and was discussed along with fifty other items. According to village treasurer Kuruvilla Cherian it will take several days to review the minutes of the meeting and until he has a better understanding of the proposal he is not sure how much the change will cost tax payers. The village currently pays 3 million dollars in benefits for employees. Trustee Anthony Leon stated that he chose not to fight the mayor on this decision because he had objected to a number of other issues. According to the Empire Center for Public Policy Inc. in Albany many towns and villages in the area are doing the opposite to cut back on spending, and it is unusual for part time village employees to receive any health benefits.
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.