Classes Helps Child Care Providers Get into and Stay in the Business

first_imgThe Micro Business Development Program is offering a free8 week course for people interested in starting a childcare business orexpanding their existing business. The course begins on Wednesday, May17, 2004, at 6:30 pm at our office in The Maltex Building, 431 PineStreet, Burlington, VT.Childcare has proved a pivotal industry in Vermont over the last twodecades by providing a substantial income for households where bothparents want to work. Many providers go into the field because of theircare and skills with children. The class aims to assist those providersexcel in the field by enabling them to effectively deal with businessissues.The course is based on a curriculum developed by the Marion EwingKauffman Foundation, a reputable organization devoted toentrepreneurship and education. It addresses two key components of achildcare business: the business plan and the parent handbook. Thebusiness plan helps the provider develop strong business sense while theparent handbook presents tools to effectively communicate the business tothe parents receiving care.Anyone interested in learning more about the class, or the servicesoffered by Micro Business (a program in its fifteenth year of assistinglow to moderate income Vermonters in starting and running a businesseffectively) is invited to call Gillian Franks at 860 1417.last_img read more

Green Mountain Power announces 2005 earnings

first_imgCOLCHESTER, VT&Green Mountain Power Corporation (NYSE: GMP) today announced 2005 consolidated earnings from continuing operations of $2.09 per share of common stock, diluted, compared with 2004 consolidated earnings from continuing operations of $2.10 per share of common stock, diluted. The Company reported additional earnings of $0.03 and $0.10 per share from discontinued operations in 2005 and 2004, respectively.Increases in operating revenues in 2005 were offset by increases in power supply expenses, other operating expenses, maintenance expenses, depreciation and amortization, and transmission expenses, causing earnings from continuing operations to be essentially unchanged compared with 2004.Retail operating revenues for 2005 increased by $9.6 million compared with the same period in 2004, reflecting the 2005 effects of a 1.9 percent retail rate increase, warmer summer weather, an increase in the number of Company customers, and increased sales of utility services to other utilities and large industrial and commercial customers. These increases were partially offset by recognition in 2004 of $3 million in revenue deferred under our 2003 Rate Plan.Under the Companys 2003 Rate Plan, approved by the Public Service Board in December 2003, rates remained unchanged in 2004 and the Company put into effect retail rate increases of 1.9 percent (generating approximately $4 million in added annual revenues) in January 2005 and 0.9 percent (generating approximately $2 million in added annual revenues) in January 2006, upon the submission of supporting cost of service schedules. The last of these rate increases was implemented effective January 1, 2006. The 2003 Rate Plan also allowed the Company to carry unused deferred revenue totaling approximately $3 million to 2004 and to recognize this revenue to help to achieve its allowed rate of return during 2004.Total retail megawatt hour sales of electricity increased by 1.9 percent in 2005, compared with the same period in 2004. Sales to residential and small commercial and industrial customers increased by 3.0 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively, while sales to large commercial and industrial customers increased by 0.3 percent in 2005. Revenues from the sale of utility services to other utilities and large industrial and commercial customers increased by approximately $4.3 million in 2005, compared with the prior year. Wholesale revenues in 2005 also increased by $5.6 million compared with 2004, reflecting substantially higher wholesale energy prices in 2005.Other operating expenses increased by $5.5 million in 2005, reflecting an increase of $4.3 million in utility services expense. The Companys utility services business is designed to recover some of its administrative and staffing costs from other parties, ultimately reducing costs to customers and improving financial results between rate cases.Power supply expenses increased $6.0 million in 2005 compared with 2004 due to increased costs of market purchases to serve marginal load, increased purchases of power under the contract with Hydro-Quebec, an increase in the cost of power under the power supply contract with Morgan Stanley, and increased costs of transmission line losses and congestion charges allocated within the New England power pool by ISO New England, the regional system operator. Congestion charges represent the cost of delivering energy to customers and reflect energy prices, customer demand, and the availability of transmission and generation resources. The Company paid an average market price of approximately $95 per megawatt hour for system purchases during hours when customer demand exceeded supply during 2005, compared to $57 per megawatt hour in the same period last year, inclusive of the effects of congestion and line losses. Increased hydro production and deliveries under long-term power supply contracts with Hydro-Quebec and Vermont Yankee had a significant dampening effect on the increase in power supply expenses the Company experienced in 2005. The average cost of our power supply resources is substantially below current market prices, said Mr. Dutton. We are pleased that our customers have continued to enjoy significant benefits under our long-term power supply contracts. Unfortunately as these arrangements expire, they must be replaced with higher priced energy resources. We will feel that effect when our contract with Morgan Stanley expires at the end of 2006. The Company expects to file a retail rate case requesting a rate increase estimated at between ten and fifteen percent in 2006, effective for January 1, 2007.Maintenance expenses, depreciation and amortization, and transmission expenses also increased during 2005 compared with 2004. Maintenance expenses increased by $1.5 million, reflecting an increase in transmission and distribution line maintenance and maintenance of our gas turbines. Depreciation and amortization were $1.1 million higher than in the previous year, reflecting increased plant investments and a $539,000 increase in amortization of regulatory assets. Transmission expenses increased by $797,000 during 2005, compared with the prior year, as a result of an increase in charges allocated for system support in New England by ISO New England, increased retail sales of energy and an increase in investments by Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO), the entity that owns and operates most of the transmission grid in Vermont. The Company owns approximately 30 percent of VELCO.Earnings on discontinued operations for 2005 and 2004 consisted primarily of changes in operating reserves or tax valuation allowances that are considered non-recurring.In other developments, the Companys most recent customer service survey indicated an overall satisfaction rate of 94 percent with contacts with the Company. There is nothing more fundamental to achieving success than providing superior customer service, said Mary Powell, Chief Operating Officer. We made efforts to improve service in a variety of ways this year, including increasing expenditures on line maintenance to shorten outages for customers when severe storms strike, increasing funding for our power partners program to help low-income customers, and expanded deployment of new automated meter reading equipment to reduce estimated readings. We look forward to further improvements in the coming year.Certain statements in this press release may be forward-looking in nature, or forward-looking statements as defined in the United States Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ from those expressed or implied in forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statement contained in this press release are subject to a number of factors and uncertainties, including regulatory and judicial decisions or legislation, changes in regional market and transmission rules, energy supply and demand and pricing, contractual commitments, availability, terms and use of capital, general economic and business environment, changes in technology, nuclear and environmental issues, industry restructuring and cost recovery (including stranded costs, and weather), and other factors and uncertainties disclosed from time to time in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.Any forward-looking statements in this press release should be evaluated in light of these important factors and uncertainties. The Company disclaims any obligation to update any information in this press release.– 30 — For further information, please contact Dorothy Schnure, Manager of Corporate Communications, at 802-655-8418 or Robert Griffin, Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, at 802-655-8452.last_img read more

SBA offers $10 million surety bond guarantee

first_imgBuilding on Recovery Act provisions implemented earlier this year, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced today it can now provide surety bond guarantees on federal contracts valued at up to $10 million, if the contracting officer certifies that the guarantee is in the best interests of the government. An Interim Final Rule is available for public inspection at The Federal Register.Currently, under a related provision of the Recovery Act that was implemented in March, SBA can provide bond guarantees up to $5 million through September 2010 on all public and private contracts and subcontracts. SBA partners with the surety industry to help small businesses that would otherwise be unable to obtain bonding in the traditional commercial marketplace. Under the partnership, SBA provides a guarantee to the participating surety company of between 70 and 90 percent of the bond amount. Raising the surety bond limit is a critical step in making sure small businesses in the construction and service sector have access to federal contracting opportunities that will help drive economic recovery, SBA Administrator Karen Mills said. These changes support small and emerging businesses nationwide, particularly construction contractors who have seen their markets hurt by a poor economy and lagging construction.Additional program enhancements published in the rule include:a new small business size standard for this program;authorization for SBA to exercise discretion in deciding bond liability issues; and,a definition of Order issued under an Indefinite Delivery Contract.The new size standard (which will be in effect until Sept. 30, 2010) temporarily replaces the current size standard for the surety bond guarantee program. It states that a business is small if the business, combined with its affiliates, does not exceed the size standard designated for the primary industry of the business combined with its affiliates. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Codes contained in 13 CFR Part 121 establishes size standards for all industries http://www.sba.gov/contractingopportunities/owners/basics/GC_SMALL_BUSIN(link is external)….Through its Bond Guarantee program, SBA will also help by guaranteeing bid, payment and performance bonds to protect the project owner against financial loss if a contractor defaults or fails to perform.Finally, the rule adds a definition for an Order issued under an Indefinite Delivery Contract to clarify that SBA bond guarantees apply to individual orders, as well as contracts.SBA assistance in locating a participating surety company or agent, and completing application forms, is available online. For more information on SBA s Surety Bond Guarantee Program, including Surety Office contacts, go online to http://www.sba.gov/osg/(link is external) , or call 1-800-U ASK SBA.Source: SBA. July 23, 2009.last_img read more

Manufacturing Solutions Inc unveils new 92,000-square-foot facility

first_imgManufacturing Solutions Inc,More than 100 people came out on a rainy night last week to attend the Open House at Manufacturing Solutions Inc. The event was the official unveiling of the company’s new 92,000 square foot facility. The move into the larger facility accommodates both growth that the company has seen in the past year and anticipated new business.  According to Hirchak, the company is poised for double-digit growth in the next fiscal year.In his remarks at the event, Garret Hirchak, MSI founder and CEO, was quick to credit his employees and clients for working together toward the vision of keeping jobs and superior manufacturing right here in Vermont.  ‘While many companies are downsizing and moving manufacturing over seas to cut costs, our customers are working with us to find ways to keep that work in the U.S.  That helps the economy of Vermont and of the country.’ MSI employs the ‘Lean Manufacturing’ philosophy and Hirchak believes that’s just part of the reason that MSI is able to be cost-competitive.  ‘Because we can move our workforce between various client projects, MSI absorbs a client’s labor costs as they relate to the ebbs and flows of the production cycle,’ continued Hirchak.MSI offers businesses a wide range of manufacturing services from receiving and storage right through production, packaging and fulfillment. Concept 2 and Blodgett Ovens are just two of MSI’s clients. Manufacturing Solutions Inc. is located in Morrisville, Vermont. http://www.msivt.com(link is external). Source: Morrisville, VT (September 30, 2010) MSIlast_img read more

Audit: Burlington Telecom not viable

first_imgBurlington Telecom,Today the Vermont Department of Public Service released an audit of Burlington Telecom that examines the organization’s business operations – and its expected effect on ratepayers. The 51 page audit details the knowing violation by city leaders and managers of the department’s license conditions; its lack of financial stability and weak inventory and accounting practices. The period under review was from the issue date of the CPG, September 2005, through the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2010.The following conclusions were included in the audit:â ¢ That Burlington Telecom has not been in compliance with Condition No. 60 since September 2005; that Burlington Telecom failed to meet the requirement to repay borrowed funds within 60 days; that even after instituting a policy to repay loans within 60 days, it has continued to carry a negative balance, failing to repay over $16 million in loans from the City’s Pooled Cash fund.â ¢ The auditors also concluded that they believe that Burlington Telecom not only withheld the fact that it was not in compliance, from the DPS and the Board, but appeared to have been aware of the violation earlier than it has claimed.â ¢ That the auditors also believe that Burlington Telecom has serious ‘going concern’ issues; that Burlington Telecom has incurred losses in each fiscal year from 2005 through 2009; that Burlington Telecom has accumulated a $16.9 million obligation to the City and is currently having difficulty meeting its $33.5 million obligation to CitiCapital. The City’s own financial auditors repeatedly raised concerns about BT’s ability to continue as a going concern.â ¢ CAO Jonathan Leopold, as recent as this past summer assured Moody’s officials that the $17 million BT owed to Pooled Cash “would become a liability of the General Fund if BT ceases to be a City venture. In that event, the City would have the authority to issue general obligation bonds to convert the Pooled Cash obligation to long term debt. That financing would be 20 years with annual debt services of $1.2 million. The cost to taxpayers would be a tax rate increase of less than 3.4 cents or 4.7%. The communication then states that a “4.7% increase, if it becomes necessary, represents a reasonable and not overly burdensome tax rate.”â ¢ Tim Nulty, the original Manager of Burlington Telecom, predicted that Burlington Telecom would generate significant positive cash flow by FY 2009 (predicted to be around $15 million/yr), which ” could provide more than 20% of the City’s general fund requirements.’â ¢ That the auditors are concerned with the possibility that Burlington Telecom could default on its loans and leave the City and its taxpayers responsible for the debt of $16.9 million and possibly a portion of the debt of $33.5 million.â ¢ That there are concerns regarding accounting issues. The auditors have discovered significant internal control weaknesses throughout the system. These deficiencies include controls over the coding of costs and authorization of expenditures. The controls that would properly monitor capital and operational costs appear to be insufficient. Also, the fact that the City has had issues with posting interest in a timely manner and identifying principal and interest payments suggests that Burlington Telecom is not in compliance with Condition No. 58. Evidence also suggests that Burlington Telecom may have violated Condition No. 12 in that the discounted prices charged to some City operations do not appear to be reasonable in relation to the costs of providing the services.‘This is further evidence that Burlington Telecom and the City of Burlington’s leadership have knowingly withheld and manipulated information to cover the fundamental financial flaws in the case for Burlington Telecom,” said David O’Brien, Commissioner of the Department of Public Service. ‘It is clear that Burlington’s Administration has put their interests before the interests of the taxpayers. Unfortunately, they continue to misrepresent the facts in what can only be considered a campaign to ignore a painful reality ‘ that Burlington Telecom is not viable. It is my hope that the voters and city council take action before more money is lost,” said O’Brien.Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss responded to the audit and O’Brien’s comments in a statement saying: “The City is reviewing the Larkin report and will fully respond once that review is completed. The report deserves a thorough review of its assumptions, claims, and conclusions.”The City has received the comments of Public Service Department Commissioner David O’Brien. Mr. O’Brien’s statements are irresponsible, inaccurate and inappropriate. Mr. O’Brien attended the Dec 8 status conference with the PSB at which the City discussed its plans for BT’s future. Burlington Telecom is cash flow positive and is in serious discussions with a number of strong financial partners about the process of acquiring replacement equipment to address the termination of the CitiCapital Lease agreement. “Mr. O’Brien’s statements are clearly intended to be harmful to this effort as well as Burlington Telecom as an enterprise providing vital services to residents and businesses in the City. The City is actively engaged in addressing BT’s financial status and CPG with the intent of preserving Burlington Telecom as a telecommunications and economic asset.”Meanwhile, in his statement, O’Brien went on to say that “it is truly sad that all the warning signs were ignored and that City officials deceived regulators and the general public that now places a tremendous financial burden on unsuspecting businesses and residents of Burlington.”The audit, conducted by Larkin & Associates, PLLC, made several recommendations at the conclusion of their report:(1) That the Board require Burlington Telecom to conduct a physical inventory of assets (both installed and uninstalled) and to report to the Board concerning this, along with BT’s detailed plan to use the equipment purchased through June 30, 2010 that has not yet been installed. This is critical whether Burlington Telecom is able to survive the current financial crisis or not.(2) That the Board require BT to provide a plan for bringing BT into compliance with all violated provisions of BT’s CPG, including Condition No. 60. While we do not believe that BT can continue as a viable operation, because of the risk to the City and taxpayers it would be remiss to ignore any possible solutions should they exist.(3) That the Board require BT to address the going concern issues and to provide an operating plan detailing how BT expects to become profitable and cash-flow positive, including details on any restructuring of the CitiCapital lease financing that BT has been able to obtain.(4) That the Board consider revoking BT’s CPG if the Board is not satisfied that BT has a realistic plan to bring BT into compliance with all violated provisions of BT’s CPG, including Condition No. 60, and a viable plan for addressing the going concern issues.A copy of the report can be found online at http://www.publicservice.vermont.gov/(link is external)last_img read more

Vermont House passes government transparency bill

first_imgThe Vermont House of Representatives has passed H.73, a bill increases transparency and accountability in state government.  The legislation will provide for greater access to public records and allow for better enforcement of the Vermont Public Records Act (PRA). The public records law as it currently stands is very complex and full of exemptions, making  enforcement inconsistent across agencies.  H. 73 seeks to make access to public records more readily available and the process understandable. The bill also sets up a process to review the necessity of current exemptions. ‘The current public records act is confusing for both individuals requesting access to records and those agencies providing the records,’ said Speaker Shap Smith.  ‘By clarifying current law, state government  will be more responsive to its citizens’with transparency, efficiency and accountability.’ Designed to address the current shortfalls of the PRA, H.73 contains the following provisions: ·        Creates public records training for all public agencies;·        Establishes a resource at the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration to provide guidance and advice to municipalities for complying with the PRA;·        Clarifies the agencies’ responsibilities to respond to a records request;·        Forms a study committee to evaluate and recommend changes to the 215 exemptions of the PRA. The bill advanced in the House to third reading yesterday, 134-5.  The bill passed this afternoon on a strong voice vote.  It has been sent to the Senate for its consideration.Source: Speaker’s office. 5.7.2011last_img read more

Home sales down in Vermont, but prices increase

first_imgIn Vermont, the number of housing units sold declined by -3 percent, according to RE/MAX of New England, but a median price increase of 3 percent was the largest in New England. According to RE/MAX, the seasonal summer heat has contributed to a month-over-month slowdown in sales across New England. However, year-over-year sales experienced double digit increases in every state in the region.The July 2011 RE/MAX of New England Monthly Housing Report reveals that transactions in July were down -13.6 percent month-over-month, but up 14.5 percent versus July 2010. Prices were down -2.4 percent month-over-month and down -3.0 percent from July of 2010. Every New England state saw a decline in units sold.‘Seasonality can be attributed for the month-over-month sales drop, however, the market is still trending up from the same period last year,’ said RE/MAX of New England Executive Vice President, Jay Hummer. ‘I am hopeful that the fall season, coupled with continued low interest rates, will bring steady growth by the end of the year.’last_img read more

Draker Labs selected by Con Edison Development for utility-scale solar monitoring

first_imgDraker Labs, the industry’s leading provider of turnkey monitoring solutions for commercial and utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) projects, was recently selected by Con Edison Development (CED) to monitor and control more than 40 MWs of grid-interconnected solar projects in the Northeast, including the 20MW Pilesgrove solar power plant. The Pilesgrove facility is the largest PV plant in the northeastern U.S. The Pilesgrove project was put in service in Q3 and is expected to generate enough clean energy to power over 5,000 homes while reducing CO2 emissions by approximately 1,900 tons per year, the equivalent of removing 3,400 cars from the road annually.Mark Noyes, Vice President of Con Ed Development, commented, “We selected Draker based on the scalability and reliability of their data acquisition system, as well as their ability to deliver an integrated monitoring and control solution to manage the utility interconnection. Draker’s team of dedicated project managers and field engineers were instrumental in commissioning the plant and interconnecting to the utility grid.  We look forward to completing additional utility-scale projects with Draker in New Jersey, and beyond.”
 

Draker has worked cooperatively with both CED and its engineering partner, RMT, to develop a secure monitoring and control solution that integrates with the utility’s SCADA system and data historian through a local Human Machine Interface (HMI). Draker provided switchgear monitoring and control through real-time automation controllers manufactured by Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL).  A dedicated team of Draker project engineers provided design and engineering services and onsite installation and commissioning support.”We are delighted to be working with Con Edison Development on their Pilesgrove project and other utility-scale projects in New Jersey. Our ability to successfully serve utility-scale customers like CED with our Utility Suite continues to add to Draker’s industry-leading capabilities and reputation,” said Draker CEO Charles ‘Chach’ Curtis.

About Draker

Draker Laboratories provides accurate and highly reliable monitoring solutions that help owners and operators of commercial and utility-scale PV systems maximize the efficiency and profitability of their solar assets.  As a supplier of end-to-end monitoring solutions, Draker’s turnkey systems combine proven field instrumentation with an intuitive web-based data management system and unmatched customer support. www.drakerlabs.com(link is external)About Con Edison Development
Launched in 1997, Con Edison Development focuses on the development, ownership and operation of renewable and energy infrastructure projects in the Northeast. Through acquisitions as well as greenfield development, Con Edison Development has owned, operated and marketed 1700 MW of electric generating facilities. The company has proven expertise in engineering and construction management, start-up and commissioning, and a strong track record of financial stability and regulatory experience. Con Edison Development is a subsidiary and registered trademark of Consolidated Edison, Inc., one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies. More information can be obtained by calling 914-993-2185. You can also visit the Consolidated Edison, Inc. website at www.conedison.com(link is external) for information on all of the Consolidated Edison companies.BURLINGTON, VT, USA ‘ October 18, 2011 – Draker Labslast_img read more

Internet sales taxes becoming trend with or without legislative push

first_imgIn the last three months, both Democrats and Republicans have sponsored Federal legislation to compel online retailers to collect sales and use tax and several states have moved forward with their own legislation, including Vermont, based on a review of online nexus rules by CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business and the leading global provider of tax, accounting and audit information, software and services (CCHGroup.com).”Whether legislatively compelled at the Federal or state level or through online retailers seeing it as inevitable, the trend is moving toward more online retailers collecting sales and use taxes,” said Daniel Schibley, JD, CCH Senior State Tax Analyst. “While it may not have significant implications for this holiday tax season, consumers should be prepared to start seeing sales tax collected on more and more of their online purchases in the years ahead as cash-strapped states look for more revenue sources.”Overall, 45 states currently have a sales tax and 16 states have enacted or have legislation proposed to require online retailers to collect sales and use tax or, at the very least, to more strongly urge in-state customers to pay use tax. Sales tax generally has two parts ‘ the sales portion paid by the retailer and the use portion paid by the consumer. Under existing rules, individuals are required to pay personal use tax in states with a sales tax if the retailer does not collect the tax. However, there is very little voluntary compliance among consumers.Below, CCH reviews the two Federal bills and outlines the strategies states are taking independently under a variety of remote seller collection bills, also known as “Amazon laws,” to increase collection of taxes for online sales.Marketplace Equity Act and Main Street Fairness ActUnder existing law, retailers are required to collect sales taxes for purchases made in states in which they have a physical presence, or nexus. In Quill vs. North Dakota , the Supreme Court, however, also ruled that sales tax structures across the United States are too complicated to require retailers to collect sales taxes if they have no physical presence and that Congress would need to determine if future systems put in place would be simple enough to compel remote retailers to collect sales taxes.Toward that end, the bipartisan-backed Marketplace Equity Act (MEA) was introduced in mid-October into the House of Representatives. The bill was in response to the Main Street Fairness Act introduced in July.The Main Street Fairness Act would give states following the Streamlined Sales Tax (SST) Agreement rules the authority to require retailers, with limited exceptions, to collect sales tax on online purchases, regardless of nexus. The SST effort is an initiative to simplify state sales tax so that there are common definitions for taxable products and uniform procedures across the states. To date, 24 states have passed laws to abide by SST rules. However, the Main Street Fairness Act was introduced in both the Senate and House with only Democratic sponsors.The MEA, which has the support of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, was introduced with the hopes of gaining support among Republicans. It would not require states to join the SST Agreement or make the system changes required under SST. Rather under MEA, a state would be authorized to require remote sellers to collect tax for sales into that state so long as state law provided the following:A small seller exception for remote sellers with gross annual receipts nationwide not exceeding $1 million, or in the state not exceeding $100,000;A single tax return for use by remote sellers and a single authority in the state with which the return must be filed; andAn identical tax base and exemptions throughout the state for remote sellers.Additionally, under MEA, states would be required to adopt a rate structure for remote sellers, with certain restrictions. The three acceptable rate structures would be:A single statewide blended rate that includes both the state rate and local rates;A maximum state rate, exclusive of tax imposed by local jurisdictions; andA destination rate, which would be the sum of the state rate and the local rate into which the sale is made.According to Schibley, it’s doubtful the MEA legislation will gain much traction in the current Congressional climate.”It will be assigned to a committee and could have a hearing before next year, but chances of passage are remote,” Schibley said, adding that among the long-shot possibilities is that it is taken up by the deficit-reduction super committee.States’ Remote Seller Collection Bills Gain MomentumWhile Federal legislation appears stalled, states continue to move forward with their own approaches to require online retailers to collect sales tax. Collectively, these remote seller collection bills require online retailers that have some type of connection with the state to collect state sales tax.According to Schibley, remote seller collection bills have different state-specific nuances but tend to fall into four general categories:Click-through-nexus LegislationClick-through-nexus rules generally require an online retailer to collect sales tax if it solicits sales with links on an in-state business’ website and pays those website operators a commission. The argument is that this arrangement is akin to having an in-state sales force. Eight states have passed click-through-nexus legislation:Arkansas;California;Connecticut;Illinois;New York;North Carolina;Rhode Island; andVermont.Additionally, click-through-nexus bills have been introduced in Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvaniaand Tennessee. The Michigan legislation also includes provisions for affiliate nexus, and the Pennsylvanialegislation includes provisions for affiliate nexus and reporting and notice rules, both detailed below.”Amazon has made headlines by canceling all its relationships with partner sites in states that had enacted click-through legislation, with the exception of New York,” Schibley said. He added that last month California lawmakers gave online retailers a one-year reprieve from having to collect sales tax from in-state customers and Amazon agreed to begin collecting by January 2013.”Amazon is one of the largest online retailers, so people are watching the various disputes in which it is involved and how it is responding,” Schibley said.Affiliate-nexus LegislationAffiliate-nexus rules generally apply if the online retailer has an affiliation with a company doing business in the state; for example, a sister company or subsidiary, selling goods under a similar business name, or sharing in-state employees or facilities. Six states have recently enacted affiliate-nexus laws:Arkansas;California;Colorado;Illinois;South Dakota; andTexas.Reporting Requirement LegislationThese rules so far have only been enacted in Colorado and are included in the Pennsylvania legislation. They require a retailer selling into the state but not collecting sales tax to send the state an annual statement of everyone in the state it shipped to and the value of those purchases. The state can then pursue the individual in order to collect the use tax. According to Schibley, the Direct Marketing Association currently is challenging the Colorado law in Federal court and the court has blocked enforcement while the two parties lay out their case.Notification RulesThese rules require online retailers to place a notice on their website informing customers they are required to pay the use tax. States with notification rules include:Colorado;Oklahoma;South Dakota; andVermont.D.C. Remote Collection Bill Could Offer Added Insight into Congressional PositionAdditionally, Schibley noted that the District of Colombia adopted remote seller legislation in July and because Congress must review all District of Columbia legislation, it’s being closely watched for their reaction.”The legislation requires remote sellers to start collecting sales tax once the rules have been established,” Schibley said. “But it does not give a lot of detail on what those rules will be, so as district lawmakers define these, people will be looking at how Congress reacts.”About CCH, a Wolters Kluwer businessCCH, a Wolters Kluwer business (CCHGroup.com) is the leading global provider of tax, accounting and audit information, software and services. CCH is based in Riverwoods, Ill. Follow us now on Twitter@CCHMediaHelp(link sends e-mail). Wolters Kluwer (www.wolterskluwer.com(link is external)) is a market-leading global information services company.SOURCE CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business RIVERWOODS, Ill., Oct. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ —last_img read more

Study: Production costs key in closure of Appalachian coal mines

first_imgStudy: Production costs key in closure of Appalachian coal mines FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):A new working paper focused on Appalachia coal mines concludes that mounting production costs were responsible for far more closures than [falling] natural gas prices in the time period they studied.“We used a model to analyze these different scenarios, and what comes out of it is, rather than these different demand-side factors, which have been recently attributed as the biggest heartache for Appalachia mining firms, we actually found that it was their own production costs that were likely the biggest drivers of the industry’s decline in that region,” said Brett Jordan, a postdoctoral researcher at the University Alaska Anchorage’s Institute of Social and Economic Research and the lead author of the paper.The paper modeled mine closure decisions as a function of expected profitability and concluded that between 2002 and 2012 — a period that largely precedes a boom in Marcellus shale development that flooded Appalachia and surrounding regions with abundant and cheap natural gas —about two-thirds of observed coal mine closures were caused by declining profits. Some of the factors leading to reduced profits include lower worker productivity, higher health and safety costs, and higher bonding costs. Natural gas prices and reduced electricity consumption independently explain about one-third of the mine closures in the observed period, the report concludes.The new working paper from Jordan and his co-authors found that between 2002 and 2012, the real per-ton extraction costs in Appalachia had nearly doubled, with companies attributing factors such as the price of machine capital, steel, replacement parts, labor and diesel fuel in their public filings. Companies mining in the region have also increasingly pointed to tightening environmental and labor regulations as the depletion of coal reserves continues to push these companies into thinner and lower-quality seams of coal in the region.“The conclusion that declining mine productivity explains more closures than declining coal demand is perhaps surprising, given the focus of the literature and public debate on demand rather than supply-side factors,” the paper said. “However, this conclusion is consistent with the magnitudes of the shocks. During the sample period, declining productivity reduced annual operating profits three times as much as did lower natural gas prices or electricity consumption.”Had there not been such a drastic change in productivity, coal prices may have been sufficiently low for coal-fired plants to be competitive with natural gas plants, the report’s authors wrote.More ($): Study points to supply-side costs as biggest driver of Appalachia’s coal woeslast_img read more