North Country rep. Russell favors Assembly plan to end utility bill tax surcharge
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 11:27 am

Assemblywoman Addie Russell (D-Theresa) has joined opponents to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to extend a tax surcharge on utility bills that is set to expire on March 31.

Russell represents the Assembly’s 116th District, which includes the St. Lawrence County towns of Massena, Ogdensburg, Louisville, Waddington, Lisbon, Oswegatchie, Morristown, Hammond, Canton, Potsdam, Rossie, Macomb, and DePeyster, along with northern Jefferson County, but not including Watertown.

Russell says the Assembly budget proposal delivers “tax relief to North Country families struggling to afford high electric bills by immediately ending the 18-a energy surcharge for residential customers.

“The rough winter this year has placed an exclamation point next to a burdensome tax that has been hurting North Country families years,” Russell said. “Eliminating this energy tax now will result in savings, helping our families that are struggling to keep up with rising energy costs.”

Cuomo’s executive budget proposed eliminating the surcharge for industrial users while continuing a gradual phase-out for residential customers. The Assembly budget proposes an immediate elimination of the charge for residential users and speeds up the phase out for industrial users, Russell says.

“North Country families need tax relief right now, not in a few years. The faster we can lower taxes on energy bills, the better.”

In last year’s budget, the Assembly also favored phasing out the utility surcharge on energy bills, which was set to end in 2017. This year’s proposal fast-tracks that plan, saving families $200 million annually, Russell said.

Other legislators from both major parties, business and taxpayer groups have been critical of the governor’s planned extension of the surcharge.