Medina village officials will keep pressure on county for more sales tax sharing

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 February 2024 at 7:44 pm

‘The squeaky wheel gets the oil and we need to start squeaking’

MEDINA – Village officials say they aren’t abandoning hope that the Orleans County Legislature will hear their plea for a bigger slice of the local sales tax pie.

“We need to be in it for the long haul,” said Village Trustee Jessica Marciano. “This is going to be a long fight.”

The Medina Village Board last year sent a formal resolution to the county, asking for an increase in the local sales tax. All four villages in the county, and eight out of the 10 towns sent resolutions to the county, asking for more sales tax. The county hasn’t increased the amount the towns and villages since 2001. The 10 towns and four villages collectively receive $1,366,671 in sales tax.

The total local amount has more than doubled since 2001, and grew another $600,000 in 2023 to $23.1 million. The amount has now grown by more than $5 million since the $17.7 million in 2019. The county keeps 94 percent of the total.

The Village of Medina this year will get $160,160 of the total, which is expected to be near $25 million. That is less than 1 percent of the total in the county.

Mayor Mike Sidari said it is frustrating to get such a low amount because many of the businesses in the village are generating the sales tax that the county is reaping.

Marciano said the village shouldn’t relent and accept such a low number, especially as the village grapples with trying to prevent a big tax increase to pay for services, including a new ladder truck and addition to the fire hall.

Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson last month was asked about distributing more of the local sales tax to towns and villages, but she said in a brief response that would only push up county taxes. She spoke at the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Luncheon.

Marciano said county legislators need to see village and town taxpayers as county taxpayers, too, who need relief in their town and village taxes.

“The county is doing a disservice to their own residents,” Marciano said about the sales tax freeze to towns and villages. “We’re a major population center, and we have all these people who want services.”

Mayor Sidari said the village also gets short shrifted by the state with AIM payments or Aid and Incentives to Municipalities. Medina gets $45,523 in AIM from the state as a village of 6,047 people or $7.53 per person.

But other small cities with similar populations as Medina get far more in AIM. The City of Mechanicville, population 5,163 in Saratoga County, gets $1,649,701 for a per capita $319.52. The City of Salamanca in Cattaraugus County, population 5,929, gets $928,131 in AIM funding or $156.54 per capita.

Michael Maak, a retired Medina firefighter and a candidate for mayor in the March 19 election, said Medina should push to become a city to access the AIM funding, and also to get more of the local sales tax. That is a drawn-out legal process that needs the blessing of the state Legislature, something that hasn’t been approved in about 75 years, Maak said during last week’s Village Board meeting.

He said Medina shouldn’t give up the fight for more money in the sales tax and from the state for AIM.

“We provide a lot of services and they should give us what we’re due,” Maak said. “The squeaky wheel gets the oil and we need to start squeaking.”