Proposed executive budget still leaves St. Lawrence County unable to raise sales tax without state approval
Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 5:37 pm

Despite repeated appeals from St. Lawrence County legislators, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed executive budget will not allow the county to raise sales tax without state approval.

In his budget released Tuesday, Cuomo proposed allowing counties to renew their existing sales tax authority without action by the state legislature.

Cuomo said the current process creates "unpredictability that makes it difficult for local officials to manage their budgets."

He did not propose extending that same authority for proposed rate increases.

Some members of the board have been working to increase the county sales tax from 3 percent to 4 percent since 2011.

The state collects a four percent sales tax. Approval of the increase would raise the total sales tax from 7 to 8 percent.

Attempts by the county to raise the local sales tax rate have been unsuccessful because the law requires approval from the state legislature.

Despite petitions, requests and resolutions county leaders have failed to gain support from state representatives.

The majority of county legislators say the sales tax would help fill county coffers without raising the property taxes, which saw a 13.4 percent increase in the 2013 budget.

The St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce also supports raising the sales tax.

Supporters say sales tax is a fair tax, because everyone pays it.

State Senator Patricia A. Ritchie (R-Heuvelton) has said she would only support the county in its bid for a higher rate if extra sales tax revenue would be used to reduce county property taxes.

Sen. Joseph Griffo has also refused to sponsor legislation that would allow the county to increase its sales tax.