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August 21, 2013

Cuomo approves Essex County sales-tax hike

ELIZABETHTOWN — Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed Essex County’s one-quarter percent sales tax hike into law Tuesday.

“That means about $2 million more for Essex County on an annual basis,” County Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) said. “It’s revenue we really need.”

In June, both houses of the State Legislature approved Essex County’s request for a one-quarter percent hike in its county sales tax.

The 3.75 percent county rate would go to 4 percent — matching the state’s 4 percent — if the Essex County Board of Supervisors votes for the increase at its September regular meeting.

If lawmakers OK it, as they are expected to, Essex County would then have a combined sales-tax rate of 8 percent, the same as surrounding counties.

Douglas said the increase bill made it to the governor’s desk on Monday.

“There was no guarantee he’d sign it this fast, but we thought he might.”

Cuomo had 10 days to sign the bill or veto it.

WON’T BALANCE BUDGET

Assemblyman Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) sponsored the bill in the Assembly, while State Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) submitted it in the Senate.

The sales-tax increase by itself would help, but it wouldn’t balance the 2014 county budget, County Manager Daniel Palmer told supervisors at their regular session this month.

“Without the operation of the (Horace Nye) Nursing Home, the projected net budget for 2014 is $24.6 million; that’s about the amount we anticipate based upon normal increases in health insurance, retirement, those kinds of things.

“We raised $16.8 million (in taxes this year), so that means we have a gap of nearly $8 million — $2 million additional in sales tax is not going to do it.”

The county is selling Horace Nye Nursing Home to a private operator to remove more than $2 million in annual losses.

Email Lohr McKinstry:lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com

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