State legislators fail to pass sales tax extender for Orleans, putting $4 million in jeopardy

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 June 2017 at 8:39 am

State legislators adjourned the 2017 legislative session in Albany on Thursday without approving sales tax extenders for 53 counties, including Orleans.

The extender allows the counties to receive 4 cents per taxable dollar instead of 3 cents. (The state gets 4 cents.)

Orleans County uses that extra penny to raise about $3.85 million in revenue to fund county government services and take some pressure off property taxes. Orleans receives about $15.5 million in sales tax annually, and about $1.3 million is shared with the 10 towns and four villages in the county.

The county needs the state’s permission every two years to collect the extra penny in sales tax. It is usually a routine vote with no drama.

The sales tax extenders are being used as a bargaining chip as the Assembly tries to pressure the Senate to back mayoral control over New York City schools, the New York State Association of Counties said.

“We acknowledge the nature of today’s political environment that is focused on leveraging powerful interests against each other, but the consequences of this inaction reveal the state’s lack of understanding of how other levels of government operate in New York, and is an affront to the State Constitutional Home Rule authority intended to protect the unique needs of our communities,” NYSAC President William E. Cherry said in a statement on Thursday.

NYSAC is calling on state legislators to return to Albany and pass the sales tax extenders, or else the local governments will be deprived of $1.8 billion in revenue.

The counties are already working on their budgets for 2018.

“Prolonged inaction by the state will inject grave uncertainty in the budget-making process for counties and their property taxpayers across the state,” Cherry said.

Without action from the state legislators, Cherry said counties will face “dramatic increases in local property taxes.” The local government leaders will also be forced to cut programs and eliminate services, he said.

“Combating the opioid crisis, reforming public defense services, raising the age, maintaining local infrastructure, and providing Meals on Wheels to seniors are among the many local programs that will impacted by the state’s inaction,” he said.

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