Quietly, area residents received some good news with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's planned elimination of the Section 18-a temporary surcharge on utility bills for municipal utilities.
The fee, called a "New York State Assessment," is the result of an increase in the annual Public Service Commission charge paid by the BPU. The surcharge was 0.33 percent, but was increased to its maximum of 1 percent with another 1 percent temporary surcharge added on utility bills. The normal $100,000 paid by the BPU to support the Public Service Commission increased in 2009 to $600,000, with $100,000 sent to the Public Service Commission and the remaining $500,000 sent to the general fund of New York state to help pay for New York's budget deficits.
The temporary 1 percent was supposed to end in 2014 but state officials agreed to a gradual elimination over 3 years - meaning the surcharge wouldn't end until April 2017.
Eliminating the Section 18-a surcharge will save Jamestown Board of Public Utilities customers $550,000 a year, welcome news for small residential customers and even better news for industrial customers. The 18-a temporary surcharge is one of the hidden fees that helps feed New York's beastly appetite for money while making the state unattractive for industry.
The state Legislature should eliminate the Section 18-a surcharge as quickly as possible and make sure it isn't enacted again in the future.