Montour County Seeking Possible Assistance for Storm Damage

As a result of the hail storm that affected parts of Montour County last Thursday, the County’s Department of Emergency Services is collecting information about the extent of uninsured damages that took place in the area. The intent of this data collection effort is to assess whether there is eligibility for the County to be included in a federal “Small Business Administration Disaster Declaration.” This program COULD result in the availability of low interest loans to assist affected businesses and homeowners.
Although the name of the program seems to suggest it is for businesses, in reality there is possible eligibility for private individuals also. Eligible applicants are those business or persons who suffered greater than 40% UNINSURED LOSSES.

These losses are able to be calculated in one of two ways, against personal property, or against real estate.

Personal Property – Estimate the pre-disaster value or fair replacement value (whichever is lower) of all owned property (clothing, appliances, vehicle, etc.). Then, determine if the UNINSURED loss is at least 40% of the total value.

Structure – Provide fair market value estimate of the home/business structure. Then, determine if the UNINSURED loss is at least 40% of the value.
If either of the above scenarios is true, it is recommended that the person(s) so affected complete an SBA Survey Sheet. Persons who do not have uninsured losses of at least 40% are asked to NOT submit a survey as they would not be eligible for assistance and these submittals will simply serve to add to the volume of paperwork that must be reviewed.

The survey sheet can be downloaded here, or a hard copy can be obtained at the Montour County Commissioners Office in the Courthouse.
This form should be completed and returned in one of three ways:

1. Faxed or hand delivered to the Montour County Commissioners Office, 29 Mill Street,Danville, PA 17821. Fax 570-271-3088

2. Scanned and emailed to wpeters@montourema.org.

3. Alternate Fax 570-271-3078

The form must be submitted no later than close of business June 6, 2014.

If a declaration is warranted, further information will be provided through the Chamber and local media outlets.

Carpool RideShare Program Available to Workers in Columbia and Montour Counties

Montour County Transit and Columbia County Transportation are pleased to announce the introduction of Rideshare, a new service to help area commuters save money and get to work reliably.
 
The service is intended to offer opportunities to individuals looking for mobility options that are environmentally friendly and reduce the cost of traveling to/from work or schooling. Anyone interested can register at http://ata.nextinsight.com/main.php) to find a carpool match for their commute. Employers are encouraged to inform employees of the service. For more information, call (570) 271-0833 or email commute@Montourco.org.

Chamber Energy Program Can Help You from Being Slammed

Having the ability to choose which company you buy electricity from for your home and business provides the opportunity to find the best combination of price, product, customer service and consultative experience that can give you peace of mind while you save money off monthly bills.
 
Unfortunately, providers have been contacting local businesses, including members, with misleading information and/or aggressive sales tactics. Some of these businesses have even been signed up with a new supplier without their consent, an unprincipled activity known as “slamming.” Slamming involves switching your retail electric provider without your permission. Businesses usually don’t find out they have been slammed until they get a bill from a different electric company.
 
The Chamber and our partner, OnDemand Energy, have received calls of confusion and concern and wanted to warn all members that these tactics are taking place in the area. If your business has inadvertently or unknowingly been switched, OnDemand Energy can assist you in reversing the situation to avoid any fees.
 
To avoid being slammed, do not provide any account information to unknown callers. Also, if you are being solicited by someone using aggressive tactics, get their name and contact information and provide it to the Chamber. As the managers of the Chamber’s energy program, OnDemand is prepared to assist with any uncertainty or questions regarding your current enrollments and rates. Contact them at 1-866-699-9968 with any questions.

Chamber’s Residential Electricity Program Protects Customers through Cold Spikes!

While this winter’s record cold temperatures have unfortunately resulted in huge increases in electricity bills for homeowners on variable rate pricing programs, the ChamberChoice Residential Program has provided residential consumers with some of the lowest fixed residential rates offered in Pennsylvania. Residential consumers, who have taken advantage of the low rate program from ChamberChoice, have continued to lock in savings during the cold weather and avoid the huge bill increases being reported across the State of Pennsylvania.

Any Pennsylvania residential customers that is currently on a variable price program can switch and take advantage of ChamberChoice ‘s low fixed rate Electricity Program to lock in savings regardless of weather extremes. Join with over 25,000 ChamberChoice’s residential customers that have already saved millions of dollars to be protected from the next Arctic Cold Spike. Simply visit OnDemandEnergy.com, click the Residential Button and apply for your fixed low rate. Or call OnDemand Energy at 866-699-9968 to speak to a program representative.

“ChamberChoice proudly partners with Pennsylvania Chambers to provide employee benefits, business insurance and energy solutions to Chamber Members,” said Sam Weber, President of the Chambers of Commerce Service Corporation. “We are pleased to extend our successful energy program to residents throughout the communities in which our Chamber Partners serve. We have designed our Residential Program to deliver the lowest overall costs in Pennsylvania while minimizing market risk that is associated with our competitors variable pricing offers.”

The ChamberChoice Residential Program is managed by OnDemand Energy Solutions and supplied by FirstEnergy Solutions.

Congress Passes Flood Insurance Bill

On Thursday, March 13th, the Senate approved a bill passed earlier in the House of Representatives which reverses some reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program passed in 2012 and slows down rate increases for homeowners.

House Resolution 3370, the “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013” emerged as the most popular reform package after months of discussion in Congress. This action is in response to reforms passed in 2012 to address the $25 billion deficit of the NFIP. The “Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012” resulted in premium increases of 25% per year for subsidized residential and commercial policy holders, affecting approximately 770 policies in Columbia and Montour counties. If a subsidized property was sold, the premium would increase to the full, actuarially-based rate immediately. Local insurance agents and lenders expressed concern that premium increases of 4x to as much as 10x the prior rates would result in properties becoming non-viable and abandoned.

This legislation, which the President is expected to sign, would repeal the property sales trigger for rate increases. Subsidized premiums could not be increased by FEMA above 15% per year for a certain class of residential properties and above 18% for most primary residence properties. Policyholders that overpaid would receive a refund from FEMA.

Commercial policyholders would not see any relief as a result of H.R. 3370. Premiums would continue to increase 25% per year to the actuarially-based rate for commercial and secondary residence policies. Additionally, to help pay for the more gradual increases in premiums, a $250 annual surcharge would be implemented for these properties. The surcharge for primary residential policies would be $25 annually.

Representative Lou Barletta and Senators Casey and Toomey voted in favor of H.R. 3370. The Chamber has been in communications with the offices of each of these legislators to discuss the implications of rate increases on local communities and to express disappointment that commercial policyholders would be unfairly burdened through this legislation due to the disparity in rate increases and surcharges. Long-term solutions for communities need to include mitigation planning and assistance from the Federal government.

FEMA would be required to complete an affordability study within two years of the bill becoming law and minimize the number of policies with annual premiums that exceed one percent of the total coverage provided by the policy.