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Supervisors in agreement over sales tax sharing

ELIZABETHTOWN - Essex County will join the vast majority of other counties in New York State that redistribute a portion of their sales tax revenues to its municipalities.

In their 210th organizational session, the Essex County Board of Supervisors voted to redistribute one-quarter percent worth of sales tax revenue to each town, effective 2010.

North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi introduced the proposal, citing a need to support struggling town governments.

"Out of 57 county governments in New York State, 53 share sales tax with their towns and villages," explained Politi. "The time has come for Essex County to start equitably distributing revenues."

In September, Politi had made a similar proposal that included a half-percent increase in the county's sales tax with half of that being redistributed to towns.

Representatives in the state legislature reported that such a tax increase would be unlikely to gain needed approval from Gov. Paterson, however, and efforts to request the tax increase stalled.

With the latest proposal, the funds would be redistributed under the current tax rate, meaning a loss of revenue for the county.

"I don't see how we can afford to give up 4 percent of our revenues," Essex Supervisor Ron Jackson said. "I haven't heard anyone talk about where the additional revenue is coming from to balance this."

Jackson said any tax redistribution should have been decided before the 2009 budget was finalized, and offered an amendment to have the redistribution take effect in 2010.

"I don't think this is going to be as devastating as it looks on the surface," Ticonderoga Supervisor Bob Dedrick argued, saying that new businesses are likely to create an increase in sales tax revenue this year, offsetting most of the redistributed revenue.

Dedrick also spoke in strong support of the redistribution, pointing to the Ticonderoga's dealings with its Wal-Mart Superstore.

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