County weighs keeping, adding to sales tax

ELIZABETHTOWN-A combination of two resolutions could lead to a 4 percent sales tax in Essex County.

The county Board of Supervisors adopted a pair of resolutions at its April 4 meeting, one to keep the 3/4 percent addition to the state-capped 3 percent sales tax for counties. The second adds another 1/4 percent to that, which, if approved by the state, would give Essex County a 4 percent sales tax.

Board Chairman Randy Douglas of Jay said that even though there is talk in Albany that would make the resolutions not needed, they still needed to be done.

"The state is talking about letting counties go as high as a 5 percent sales tax without any legislation on their part," Douglas said. "But right now, we still need to renew the current 3/4 percent increase and the new 1/4 percent through the legislature."

Moriah supervisor Tom Scozzafava said that the additional 1/4 percent would represent a $1.5 million profit for the county.

"We have been using the sales tax to keep the property tax rates stable," he said. "I personally believe that sales tax is a much more fair form of taxation. I know that the county has been using this money to keep tax levies down and I am certain the towns are using the quarter that they get back to do the same thing."

The resolution to continue the 3/4 percent increase to the Essex County sales tax passed with only Willsboro supervisor Ed Hatch dissenting. He was joined by Westport supervisor Dan Connell in voting against the additional 1/4 percent increase.

"Before we add any tax we should take a hard look at where the money will best be spent," Hatch said. "I think that we should have to hold the line both in spending and taxing. In our towns, we have to go back and work our butts off to hold the line."

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