By JIMMY LAWTON
WADDINGTON -- Town Supervisor Mark Scott says a 1 percent increase in sales tax would not solve the county's fiscal problems and would burden taxpayers.
"It's still a tax. It is just redistributing where the tax comes from," Scott said.
Scott said the tax may provide an influx of revenue for the county, but the real solutions need to come from spending cuts and economic development. He said small cuts across the board could likely help balance the budget without putting a further increase on taxpayers.
Scott said the increase of money would be nice for municipalities, but it's not a long-term fix.
While not a new issue, the sales tax issue surfaced at a recent town board meeting after St. Lawrence County Legislator Jonathan Putney, who represents the Town of Waddington, submitted a letter requesting the board support the increase.
While the majority of the county legislature appears to favor the move, state law prohibits the county from increasing the percentage without approval from the state lawmakers.
North Country senators Joseph Griffo, who represents Potsdam, Massena and central St. Lawrence County, and Patricia Ritchie, who represents Ogdensburg, Canton and the northern part of the county, have refused to put sponsor the increase at the state level. But, during a recent visit to Potsdam Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would approve the increase if it was put on his desk by the state legislature.
While state support may be on its way, Scott says he does not believe the towns and villages are ready to back the idea.
Scott said a recent meeting of town supervisors and mayors resulted in the formation of a committee that hopes to negotiate the portion of sales tax received by the towns and villages.
In a plan released by the county, the board of legislators proposed reducing portions of the one percent increase in sales tax the towns and villages would receive.
"I can't speak for them, but I expect none of the municipalities will support the increase until they sit down and negotiate," he said.