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Government Affairs Albany Update

February 8, 2002

Glenville Energy Files Article X Application

The Glenville Energy Project (GEP) has filed an application, with appropriate fees, to the State Board on Electrical Generation Siting and Environment (the Siting Board) under Article X of the Public Service Law. GEP is seeking to build a $350 million, 520 megawatt natural gas-fired electricity generating facility in the Scotia-Glenville Industry Park. The project developers have been seeking to build the project since 1997. The project developers hope to have the project approved and in the construction phase within two years with an in service date by 2005. For more information on this project and other Article X applications access the Department of Public Services web site

Light Pollution Bill Vetoed

On February 1st the Governor vetoed A.5352-B (Grannis) / S. 3386-B (Balboni), the "light pollution bill", which would have greatly impacted outdoor lighting, public safety, local zoning for public lighting, the codification of the infraction of light trespassing, and the creation of dark zones in the state. The Business Council opposed the enactment of this legislation. The bill would have defined and prohibited "light trespass" (the casting of light on another's property) and prevented "light pollution" (defined as the general sky glow caused by the scattering of artificial light in the atmosphere). Also, the legislation would have added several stringent limitations on public and private entities that utilize outdoor lighting. The codification of light pollution and light trespass, and the mandatory classification of levels of outdoor lighting, would have resulted in risks to public safety, imposed significant costs on local ratepayers (through the alteration of existing public and private outdoor lighting and lighting fixtures) and would have created a burdensome penalty system for those who violate another's "dark space." The bill was sent to the Governor on December 31, 2001. In his veto message the Governor stated security issues and the burden to localities were a factor in the veto. The sponsor's of the bill submitted legislation for chapter amendments to the 2001 bill prior to the Governor's veto on February 1st. However, the gubernatorial veto has made these chapter amendments mute. The Business Council also opposed the amendments proposed under A-9757-A and S. 6262-A for the same reasons articulated above.

Business Council Forecast Comes True;
UC Tax Rates to Rise 0.4%

New York's Unemployment Trust Fund balance at the close of business on December 31 annually determines which COLUMN (or set) of tax rates will be in use for the upcoming year. [Each individual company's own experience (within the company) with unemployment determines which individual tax RATE from the COLUMN (of tax rates) is assigned to a company.]

In late September 2001, The Business Council forecast (comparatively based on year-to-date tax receipts and benefit payout through September 7, 2001 and through September 8, 2000) that the COLUMN of tax rates in use for 2002 would shift 2 columns higher than 2001's column -- a 0.4% (or $34/employee) tax rate increase -- and further, that the events of September 11 would not have a significant enough impact on the fund to shift further to 3 columns higher. This has come to pass.

The New York Department of Labor has announced that the UC Trust Fund balance on December 31, 2001 was such that 2002's COLUMN of tax rates will be 2 columns higher than 2001's. The difference between the 2 COLUMNS is that each tax RATE in 2002's COLUMN is 0.4% higher than each corresponding tax RATE in 2001's COLUMN. Generally, a 0.4% higher tax RATE produces an additional $34 of TAX for each person that a company employs in 2002 (since companies pay the tax RATE on the first $8,500 that each employee earns: 0.4% X $8,500 = $34).

UC Trust Fund Cash Flow; Automatic Federal Advance and Interest-free Payback

The UC Trust Fund receives its UC tax revenues from private sector employers who pay their assigned tax rate on the first $8,500 of each employee's compensation. UC taxes are paid quarterly; thus, the vast amount of UC taxes each year are paid on first calendar quarter compensation (through March 31) which is due each April 30. Correspondingly, the second, third, and fourth calendar quarters (due July 31, October 31, and January 31, respectively) are much smaller. Accordingly, the UC Trust Fund cash flow -- tax receipts minus benefit payout -- each year is negative during the January - April period.

In 2002, this negative cash flow will activate the automatic advance by the Federal UC Fund to the New York UC Trust Fund of the necessary monies to cover benefit payout in March and April. The advance will be repaid in May and, as such, no interest on the advance will be charged as provided by Federal law.