Orleans Conservative Party submits petitions to repeal tax on fuel

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 October 2013 at 12:00 am

ALBION – For six months members of the Orleans County Conservative Party have circulated petitions, asking residents to support a repeal of the county sales tax on fuel oil – gas, propane, home heating oil and wood.

On Wednesday, The party’s vice chairman, Paul Lauricella of Lyndonville, handed 97 pages of petitions signed by 1,100 people to County Legislature Chairman David Callard.

The county collects a 4 percent tax on fuel oil and it generates about $3.3 million in revenue for the county, money that helps offset the need for more property taxes, Callard said. The tax on gas raises about $1.8 million while the home heating oil tax generates $1.5 million, according to County Treasurer Susan Heard.

“It’s not an easy problem,” Callard told Lauricella and Al Lofthouse, the Conservative Party chairman. “You’re dealing with very big numbers.”

Lofthouse said the county could find other savings to make it possible to reduce the sales taxes on fuel. The Legislature should try to eliminate the tax out of respect to the “hard-working people” of the county who must buy fuel to travel to jobs and heat their homes, Lofthouse said. The Legislature could try eliminating the tax on home heating oil first, he suggested.

But to do so for home heating oil, taking $1.5 million away in revenue, would force the county to raise taxes by about $1 per $1,000 of assessed property, costing someone with a house assessed at $80,000 an additional $80 a year in property taxes.

The taxes on fuel account for $3.3 million of the county’s $14.9 million total in sales tax.

“I don’t think anybody disagrees with you,” Callard told Lofthouse. “But it’s very difficult to overcome those numbers in savings. We’re sympathetic and we hope someday to do what you’re saying.”