County legislators want 1 percent additional sales tax continued
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 - 2:53 pm

By JIMMY LAWTON

CANTON -- St. Lawrence County legislators are calling on the state to allow the continuation of an additional 1 percent sales tax on purchases in St. Lawrence County.

On Monday, the finance committee passed a resolution calling on the state to allow home rule legislation permitting the county to extend the 1 percent additional sales tax through Nov. 30, 2020.

A similar resolution was passed in June, but no action has been taken by the state.

New York State collects a 4 percent sales tax. Prior to 2013, St. Lawrence County collected 3 percent. In Dec. 2013, the county began charging 4 percent, bringing the sales tax to 8 percent.

However, in order to collect the additional 1 percent, St. Lawrence County must get approval from state lawmakers. The original increase was permitted from December 2013 through Nov. 30, 2015. It was then renewed from Dec. 1, 2015 through Nov. 30, 2017.

Now as the deadline approaches, the county is seeking to renew that additional tax through 2020.

In the resolution, legislators cite state mandates as a driving factor in the need to sustain the increased tax collection.

Since implementing the additional sales tax, the county has not exceeded the state-imposed tax cap. Last year, the county established a strategic planning committee focused on trimming waste and finding additional resources. The county has also upheld a hiring freeze of sorts, which requires all job openings to be endorsed by a committee prior to being filled by the full board of legislators.

Some legislators have argued in the past that the sales tax is a “fairer” tax, compared to property taxes, especially in a county where 40 percent of assessed properties are tax-exempt.

St. Lawrence County is not the sole benefactor of the additional tax. The county shares the revenues with towns, villages and the City of Ogdensburg.

Under the proposed renewal, Ogdensburg will receive 6.4 percent of the revenues generated by the 1 percent increase and the remaining towns and villages will evenly split a 10 percent share.

St. Lawrence County will collect the remaining 83 percent.

County officials plan to forward the resolution to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and all of St. Lawrence County’s state representatives after it receives full board approval.