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Warren Co. supervisors reject sales tax hike

QUEENSBURY -- Warren County supervisors voted Friday by a substantial margin to reject enabling legislation for a sales tax increase.

Ten county supervisors - primarily from Queensbury and Glens Falls - voted against the measure, while all but one of the supervisors from the upcounty region voted to preserve the sales tax option.

The idea of raising the sales tax is now effectively dead for the next two years, Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Fred Monroe said.

He saw a one-half or one percent increase in sales tax as a way to slash property taxes throughout the county by as much as one-third.

The sales tax would have boosted government income from tourists and out-of-county shoppers, he had argued. Only five counties of the state's 62 have sales tax rates as low as Warren counties, he said.

"It just doesn't make sense to not keep our options open," Monroe said. "I learned in the Air Force that you don't make decisions until you have all the information."

Monroe had proposed the potential sales tax boost to address a projected $6.35 million shortfall in the 2010 budget, and to shift the tax burden from local property owners to out-of-county residents.

Supervisors from Glens Falls and Queensbury spoke with passion about not taking any steps toward raising taxes until every effort is taken to reduce expenses.

Monroe warned that without a sales tax increase, 100 to 170 county employees might have to be be eliminated to keep property taxes close to the target of zero to 2 percent increase.

Johnsburg Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed said that personnel and program cuts should begin as soon as July in order to build up the county's shrunken fund balance and prepare for the looming county financial shortfall. Thirty to 50 jobs should be cut by July to ease the financial downslide, he said.

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