To the Editor:
I offer this letter in response to Tim Connolly’s letter of support for Karl Ortmeyer that appeared in the October 20-26 edition of North Country This Week. Unlike Mr. Connolly I do not know Mr. Ortmeyer and cannot comment on whether he is ready for the County legislature. On the other hand I am familiar with my own record as a St. Lawrence County legislator and would like to correct the factual inaccuracies contained in Mr. Connolly’s letter.
Mr. Connolly takes issue with my record on taxes, stating that as both a legislator and a school board member I have regularly raised taxes. As a Republican he is trying to paint me as a tax and spend liberal Democrat. If one looks at the facts, the tax rates, they will see that this is just not true. In 2003, my first year in the legislature, the County tax rate was $8.12 per thousand of valuation. This year, 2010, the County tax rate is $8.15 per thousand, a mere three cents higher over the eight years. I would hardly call that raising taxes. The school tax rates also bear this out. Potsdam school taxes were $27.06 per thousand in 2003 and $22.72 per thousand in 2010, these have actually gone down significantly. It should also be noted that school budgets are voted upon by the residents of the district, they have the final say.
Mr. Connolly failed to mention my record on sales tax distribution. In my first term as County legislator I introduced legislation that enabled the villages in St. Lawrence County to get their fair share of sales tax revenue. As a result, the Village of Potsdam receives an additional $250,000 per year in sales tax revenue. This additional sales tax revenue is one factor that has allowed the Village of Potsdam to lower its taxes from $19.44 per thousand in 2003 to $15.43 per thousand in 2010. In my second term as legislator I worked to renew the sales tax agreement with Ogdensburg, ensuring that the Village of Potsdam will continue to get their sales tax revenue for another 10 years.
I am proud of my record as a legislator on taxes as well as on other issues. I believe I have represented District 10 and St. Lawrence County residents well. I am a Democrat, an independent Democrat, who has tried to act responsibly and conservatively when it comes to taxes. I have also tried to do what is right and fair for all citizens. I encourage all voters to consider my record and to look at the facts when voting on Nov. 2.
J. Patrick Turbett
Legislator, District 10