County sales tax increase felt by consumers

PLATTSBURGH Those shopping within Clinton County may have noticed a slight increase in what theyre spending at the checkout line. As of Dec. 1, the amount of sales tax consumers are paying on taxable items has risen from 7.75 percent to a full 8 percent. Of that figure, the state share of sales tax charged remains at 4 percent, while the county share has increased from 3.75 to an equal 4 percent. County Administrator Michael E. Zurlo said the increase is due to the county legislatures decision to reduce the property tax burden shared by county residents. Theres only a certain amount of property owners, but theres a lot of people who purchase commodities in the county, especially with the strong Canadian dollar, said Mr. Zurlo. So, more revenue is coming in that wont be born by the property taxpayer. Itll be spread across everybody. According to a formula utilized by the county legislature, said Mr. Zurlo, of the first $27.1 million in revenue collected in the county, 55 percent goes to the county and 45 percent goes to the individual municipalities within the county. Though not statutorily obligated to do so, said Mr. Zurlo, the county legislature made the decision to share its local share of the sales tax. Of everything else except the one percent more than $27.1 million, the county gets 65 percent and the municipalities share 35 percent. The additional one percent stays with the county, he said. According to projections Mr. Zurlo received from the county treasurers office, it is anticipated the sales tax increase will help generate an additional $4 million in revenue in the coming year. The other factor expected to contribute to the increase is the increased amount people are spending within Clinton County, he said. The county sales tax increase was approved at an Aug. 22 meeting of the county legislature, though the issue was on the table since January, said Mr. Zurlo. Some vendors have claimed they had no knowledge of the impending increase, though Mr. Zurlo said 5,000 postcard notices were mailed to vendors by the State Department of Taxation and Finance. We discussed it in open session at least four or five times, said Mr. Zurlo. But I can certainly understand how the details of the effective date could be lost in the process.

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