Governor Approves Essex County Sales Tax Increase

Aug 21, 2013

Credit Donkey Hotey/Flickr

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has approved a request that will allow Essex County to increase its sales tax by one-quarter of a percent.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Adirondack county's formal request to increase its sales tax one-quarter percent on Tuesday. Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas says officials in the rural county had discussed the idea for four years, and he personally lobbied the governor to support the increase.

The state legislature approved the county’s request in June, clearing the way for the governor’s approval. Essex County Manager Dan Palmer calculates the one-quarter percent increase in the county sales tax, from 3.75 to 4 percent, will bring in between 1.8 and $2 million more revenue annually.

The county faces a nearly 7 million dollar budget gap, so the increase in sales tax revenue won’t fully balance the books. Douglas says the Board of Supervisors is looking at several alternatives to help close the remaining gap.

Town of Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava chairs the county finance committee. He believes raising the sales tax is a better option than trying to increase property taxes.

County Manager Dan Palmer contends that the county must raise revenues either through a sales or a property tax.

The hike in the county sales tax comes shortly after the state announced that the property tax cap has been lowered, from 2 percent to 1.66 percent. Douglas says the impact on Essex County remains to be seen.

The governor approved a request that allows the county to raise its sales tax. It must receive a final yes vote by the County Board of Supervisors.  Chair Randy Douglas plans to hold a special meeting by the end of August, and if the tax is approved, he expects it will be effective in December.