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Sales tax increase law amended

September 5, 2013

ELIZABETHTOWN - Essex County supervisors amended the county's sales tax law to include the additional quarter-percent increase that was recently approved by the state.

At a special board meeting Monday, supervisors gave final approval to the change, which will bring Essex County's sales tax from 7.75 percent to 8 percent when it goes into effect Dec. 1.

County Attorney Dan Manning said that will help give the vendors who will be affected by the change time to calibrate their operations to charge the new percentage. The vendors will be notified by the state Department of Taxation and Finance, plus the county will likely put a notice out in its official newspapers, Manning said.

The extra quarter percent is expected to bring in an additional $2 million a year to county coffers, county Manager Dan Palmer reminded supervisors. He projected that will reduce about 12 percent off next year's tax levy.

He noted that state-mandated spending like retirement costs have increased significantly in recent years, so an extra $2 million won't even cover some of those increases.

Increasing the sales tax will help the tourists who visit shoulder the financial burden of some of the services the county provides, like road and bridge maintenance, Palmer said.

He noted this increase will bring Essex County level with neighboring Franklin and Clinton counties.

Moriah town Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said he supports the tax because he thinks it's better than increasing the property tax levy.

"A tax is a tax, but this is certainly not as regressive as property tax is, because it's based on one's ability to pay," he said.

Several supervisors talked about how an extra quarter percent in sales tax won't have a big impact on consumers.

"I can't ever remember personally saying to myself, 'I think I'll go to this restaurant and eat because it's 7-and-3-quarters instead of 8 percent," said Newcomb Supervisor George Cannon. "Never."

Board Chairman Randy Douglas said he and other county officials lobbied hard to get Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the bill granting the tax increase, after it was rejected by the state several years in a row.

"This isn't something that Gov. Cuomo took lightly," Douglas said.

Manning noted that a number of other counties around the state were granted home rule tax increases at the same time.



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