Essex County approves sales tax increase

Essex County Board of Supervisors

Essex County Board of Supervisors Photo by Keith Lobdell.

After years of lobbying the state, Essex County finally has a sales tax increase.

Members of the county Board of Supervisors voted 17-0 during a special meeting Aug. 26 to increase their share of the sales tax from 3.75 percent to 4.00 percent. The increase brings the total sales tax figure to 8.0 percent with state and county combined. Westport Supervisor Dan Connell was unable to attend the meeting.

The change will go into effect Dec. 1.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week signed legislation allowing counties across the state to make the same increase to their sales tax, which County Manager Daniel Palmer said would reflect an added $2 million in revenue for Essex County.

“I think that it is safe to say that this is something that is desperately needed,” Palmer said. “That figure represents about 12 percent of the tax levy that will now be raised through sales tax. It is the change you guys have been fighting for over the last four or five years.”

“The amount that we will be taken in and the amount that equals on the tax levy is something that is important for people to know,” Elizabethtown Margaret Bartley said.

The increase will put Essex County on par with neighbors Clinton and Franklin County, which were already imposing the 4 percent county sales tax (8 percent total with the state share) and will help the county make up for lost revenue from other state and federal funds.

“Since 2008, the county has lost approximately $4.5 million in revenue sources from state and federal funds,” Palmer said. “Essex County is a tourism-driven county. We have over a million visitors that come in on an annual basis. This increase is an opportunity to collect more revenue from those visitors.”

County Attorney Dan Manning said vendors in the county would be notified through mail of the change as well as through advertising.

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