Franklin and Essex counties are on the list. But St. Lawrence County isn't. Local officials want to raise the county's share of the sales tax to help fill a multi-million dollar deficit in the county budget. But they're having trouble getting the state's OK. Julie Grant reports.
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Sallie Brothers, chair of the Board of Legislators for St. Lawrence County, says the State keeps putting more mandates on them, while at the same time cutting their budget.
Governor Cuomo also signed a law this month limiting St. Lawrence and other local governments from raising the property tax by more than two percent.
Brothers said it’s just not enough money to cover the County’s costs, so St. Lawrence wants the legislature to give them authority to raise the sales tax, but she said the state representatives won’t give them a chance: "They will not address the issue and introduce the home rule, the right of St. Lawrence County to get its own taxation process in order. This will not cost the state a nickel. This will not cost these individuals a nickel."
Brothers said this should just be a kind of clerical issue, but it’s become a political one. Jefferson, Lewis, and Franklin Counties all have the authority to raise their own sales tax, according to Brothers, but Governor Cuomo has said he won’t allow any new tax increases this year.
Brothers says Senators Patty Ritchie and Joe Griffo won’t look beyond that to do what’s best for St. Lawrence County.
"The state Republican caucus has given them their marching orders, and they like two little bobble head dolls simply say, ‘okay, we won’t do it, no new taxes, no new taxes,'" Brothers said. "It doesn’t even make sense."
A spokesperson for Senator Griffo said St. Lawrence County has bad timing and they made their request at the end of the legislative session. Plus, he said the Governor has said he won’t approve any new tax increases this year.
Julie Grant, North Country Public Radio.