Sales tax hike would shift tax burden to non-residents, supervisors say

In Stony Creek, the pending property tax boost would be cut from 10.9 percent to 1 percent, in Thurman reducing an increase from 12.6 percent up to 2.6 percent, in Warrensburg from 14.6 percent up to 4.4 percent, and in Horicon from 7.7 percent up to a decrease of 1.9 percent, and in Chester, from 7.7 percent up to a decrease of 1.8 percent.

In 2011, if mandated expenses stay the same, property taxes likely would be lowered overall, the supervisors said. Johnsburg Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed said the sales tax hike was needed because property taxes have gone so high in Johnsburg and other rural towns that people are being forced out of their homes, and many more are facing foreclosure. A sales tax hike, he said, would shift much of the taxes to the vacation-home owners and tourists would could well afford a one percent increase in discretionary spending, away from low- and moderate-income property owners who would otherwise be spending hundreds of more dollars on county property taxes.

"We have multi-generational families and senior citizens who are struggling to survive," he said. "Property taxes in my community are not just a political issue, they're now a matter of absolute survival."

County Budget officer Kevin Geraghty said the additional revenue would not prompt supervisors to spend more and expand government.

He said money would be dedicated to reducing property tax burdens and restoring financial reserves, while county leaders continue to seek ways of cutting costs and boosting productivity.

"This is not going to be a free pass for county department heads or supervisors to ignore spending in the future," he said.

Lake Luzerne Supervisor said that providing services for the elderly, for public safety and health were "extremely important" and should not be put in jeopardy.

"We can't take any more of these services away without reducing the quality of life here," he said.

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