All villages, nearly all towns in Orleans ask county to share more sales tax

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 April 2023 at 12:23 pm

Ridgeway declines to pass resolution seeking more sales tax money but urges county to take ‘serious look’ at issue

The 10 towns and four villages in Orleans County are nearly unanimous is asking the County Legislature to increase the local sales tax revenue shared with the local municipalities.

The Clarendon Town Board in the past two months has urged the towns and villages to seek more of the local sales tax, which hasn’t increased for the towns and villages since 2001, despite more than doubling in that time.

All four villages – Albion, Holley, Lyndonville and Medina – have passed formal resolutions asking for more money in the local sales tax, which last year totaled $22.5 million collected in the county. The Orleans County Legislature has kept the amount capped to the four villages and 10 towns at $1,366,671 since 2001.

“Our concern is the towns and villages have stayed absolutely flat while our expenses, like everybody else’s, have gone sky high,” said Mark Bower, the Holley mayor.

Eight of the Town Boards also have passed resolutions, asking the county for more of the sales tax. That includes Albion, Barre, Carlton, Clarendon, Kendall, Murray, Shelby and Yates.

The Ridgeway Town Board declined to pass a resolution, but did offer a letter of support to look at the issue. The Gaines Town Board has yet to vote on the matter.

Brian Napoli, the Ridgeway town supervisor, said he agrees with county legislators who have said the county faces a potential $1 million tax shift with the state if the county is forced to pick up more of the Medicaid burden. That issue is expected to be settled with the new state budget, which is now three weeks late.

Lynne Johnson, the County Legislature chairwoman, said the county is in limbo while waiting for the state budget to be approved to see how if the county will get hit with more Medicaid costs, as well as an increase in assigned counsel rates. Those two issues could have a $1.3 million impact on the county budget resulting in about a 7 percent tax increase.

“We understand the fiscal constraints and unfunded mandates that the State imposes on the County and we understand the many questions that currently remain unanswered concerning funding and increased unfunded mandates due to the lack of the State to pass a budget on time,” Napoli wrote in a letter April 18 to the county legislators.

However, he urged the legislators to take a “serious look” at sharing more sales tax with the towns and villages. More sales tax for Ridgeway would assist the Town Board in offsetting possible tax increases at the town level, Napoli said.

“The Town also faces economic pressures to keep the town tax rate within the tax cap while providing the needed services to the Town residents,” Napoli wrote in his letter.

The resolution approved by the four villages and eight towns seeks 14 percent of the total sales tax to be shared with towns and villages to seek 14 percent of the total. That’s what they received in 1996.

To get to 14 percent of $22.5 million, the county would have to increase the amount to towns and villages to $3,150,000 – a $1,783,329 increase. In 1996, the local sales tax revenue was $9,499,138.

The amounts allocated for the villages and towns for 2023 includes:

• Villages ($378,777 total) – Albion, $165,309; Holley, $46,545; Lyndonville, $14,876; and Medina, $152,047.

• Towns ($987,894 total) – Albion, $123,953; Barre, $64,536; Carlton, $95,418; Clarendon, $116,261; Gaines, $88,267; Kendall, $86,813; Murray, $122,421; Ridgeway, $130,057; Shelby, $103,489; and Yates, $66,679.