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Heat Doesn’t Happen by Magic! No COLAs, Year Six

March 11, 2014
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Jan. 6, 2014.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Jan. 6, 2014.

While it isn’t a pure example of inflationary costs, this year’s winter – with a prolonged period of freezing temperatures, at least according to recent standards – does provide some insight into the kinds of costs that both nonprofits – and the men and women who work for them – are struggling to manage after five full years without any Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).  And, of course, they are looking at another sixth year of no increases, resulting in an effective 12% cumulative reduction in the level of their reimbursement from the State during that period of time, if Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget passes as proposed.

So far, the 2013-2014 heating season in New York State which began on October 1st has racked up a whopping 4,615 Heating Degree Days – a measure of the need for energy to keep homes, offices and residential programs warm enough in which to live and work.   That is 14% more than last year’s total of 4,040.

This comes as no surprise to those of us who, as individuals, are facing hefty bills as we are forced to order extra oil deliveries to heat our homes.  The same is true for nonprofits themselves.  Surprisingly, home heating oil prices themselves have reportedly dropped slightly this year – almost 2% according to NYSERDA.  On the other hand, natural gas prices have risen by 1% during this heating season according to one provider — despite reports of skyrocketing rates in many locations.

Nevertheless, most nonprofits and their employees are attempting to cover double-digit increases in the costs of heating their homes and facilities – all based on reimbursement levels that are at least five years out of date.

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