Utility bill break upcoming for Rockland residents

Rockland residents are going to see relief on their energy bills by the end of the year even as utility companies predict higher than usual fuel costs this winter.

Jonathan Gordon

Sep 15, 2022, 10:04 PM

Updated 616 days ago

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Rockland residents are going to see relief on their energy bills by the end of the year even as utility companies predict higher than usual fuel costs this winter.
"Any little bit will help," said New City resident Kim Collica-Cox. 

Utility companies are warning the average residential natural gas, oil, and propane, and electric customers will pay roughly 40% more from November through next March.  
But this week the Rockland Legislature Budget Committee passed a resolution to eliminate the county's residential energy sales tax.
"When the energy prices go up, people get penalized twice. First, by paying high rates. Secondly, the taxes are a percentage of the price you're paying," said Rockland Legislature Budget Committee Chairman Aron Wieder.
The move will save county homeowners and renters around $4 million between December through March and roughly $10 million over the course of a full year.
A $1.3 million savings is equivalent to roughly 1% on property taxes, according to county officials, so this is equivalent to a 7.5% property tax cut.
"Seeing the forecast for the coming winter, we were very anxious to get this done by Dec. 1 so the relief would be immediate," said Rockland Legislator Michael Grant.
The county has been using this money plus the recently repealed motor vehicle registration tax for the last decade to help pay off its $13 million annual deficit bond.
But for the first time in a long time, County Executive Ed Day says Rockland's finances are in a strong enough place where that burden no longer needs to fall onto the residents.
"If we can return money back to the people, essentially initiative tax cuts, we should," said Day.
Budget committee members expect the full board to unanimously approve the resolution at its next meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 20.
"People will get relief this coming winter," said Wieder.
Day says it has his full support.
The state Department of Taxation is expected to grant the county a special waiver that would allow the change to happen by Dec. 1. It normally takes 90 days for the change to happen, which would mean the cut would not take effect until March 1, well after the winter months when the demand for heat is at its highest.
"Seeing the forecast for the coming winter, we were very anxious to get this done by Dec. 1 so the relief would be immediate," said Grant.



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