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Essex County receives legislative blessing for sales tax increase

— A bill which would allow Essex County to increase their sales tax revenues by one-quarter of a percent now sits on the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Both the New York State Senate and Assembly last week passed home rule law that would allow Essex County to increase their sales tax from 3.75 to 4.0 percent, making a total combined sales tax of 8 percent for county residents.

At the Ways and Means Committee meeting June 24, County Manager Daniel Palmer said that the only thing that the county is waiting on is the signature of the governor.

“That is the only hurdle that is left to clear, and Randy (Douglas, Jay Supervisor and Board of Supervisors Chair) has said he feels confident he will do so,” Palmer said.

Palmer said that the increase one-quarter percent would represent nearly $2 million in additional revenue for the county.

This was desperately needed to increase our revenues without going onto the property tax,” Douglas said last week. “Dan Manning, Dan Palmer and Mike Diskin, worked hard on this package.”

Earlier in the year, Douglas made the sales tax increase a priority in his lobbying efforts to state officials, including Cuomo.

“I am very proud of the lobbying efforts on behalf of Essex County, explaining our need for this to Gov. Cuomo, the senate and assembly,” Douglas said. “I am very thankful that Governor Cuomo will consider our proposal. I have had numerous personal conversations with him on this issue and he truly understands our desperate need.”

Douglas said he felt this would help relieve the tax burden from the property tax levy.

“The bottom line is none of us want to raise taxes; however, this is the least intrusive tax financially on our local taxpayers who are struggling to survive during these tough times,” he said. “We are working so hard to find any ways to increase revenues to help stabilize property taxes.”

If approved by the governor, the sales tax increase would make Essex County on par with Clinton and Franklin counties, which are currently at 8 percent. The Legislature approved two-year extensions for these taxing jursidictions. Hamilton and Warren counties are currently at 7 percent. St. Lawrence County also received legislative approval for a sales tax increase, a jump of 1 percent, from 7 to 8 percent.

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