Non-profits should contribute to taxes
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 12:57 pm

To the Editor:

I would like to address this letter to the St. Lawrence County Legislature.

All residents of this county pay sales tax. This is an indisputable statement. For a year now you (our legislature) have been fighting to increase this inequitable tax on the theory that it will provide property tax relief.

Instead of pushing this agenda, St. Lawrence County should band together with other counties and work to amend several statewide not-for-profit tax laws. Imposing your desired one percent tax rate increase on not-for-profits instead of placing it upon the common citizens of New York State is an idea whose time has come. This would mean that instead of paying no taxes on vehicles, computers, office supplies, food, beverage and a bevy of other purchases, they would be required to pay a mere one percent more for these products.

For well over 100 years, large not-for-profit corporations (schools and hospitals in particular) have gained phenomenal wealth due to our overly generous tax structure. They are already exempt from the ever-increasing property taxes that have smothered homeowners in our state for decades, and are additionally exempt from sales tax. In the year 2013 it is time these organizations contributed to the communities that keep them safe and operational.

If we citizens, and the representatives we elected, don’t have a serious discussion about this matter, many more tax paying companies will leave this area, or shutter their doors. It is not good for them, and it’s not good for the county.

In Potsdam alone, two multi-million-dollar tax–free residences have sprung up at Clarkson University (with seven more to come), a tax-exempt multi-million dollar office park for doctors is being built by the Canton-Potsdam Hospital, and a new multi-million dollar ice arena and music complex are being built for SUNY.

With that said, I cannot sit by idly listening to how our county wants to increase our personal portion of taxation, while the not-for-profits are seeing record profits and growth.

I would appreciate a published response to this letter from the Legislative Chairman Jonathan Putney, Senator Joe Griffo and Assemblywoman Addie Jenne Russell. The public deserves to know your stance on this issue.

Peggy Brusso, Potsdam