June 27, 2013

Editorial: Again, spare the land tax

We have always supported local counties’ efforts to increase their share of the revenue from the state sales tax.

That’s not because we like to see customers have to pay more but because we hate to see property owners stuck with still more of the bills for the services we all take for granted.

We again applaud a sales-tax increase, this time by Essex County. The Board of Supervisors asked the State Legislature to raise the county’s take from the tax by one-quarter percent. As it is, the state collects 4 percent, and Essex County gets 3.75. The county wants to increase its collection to 4 percent, as most counties already have done.

The State Legislature approved the request before adjourning for the summer; only Gov. Cuomo’s approval and then the supervisors’ perfunctory formal vote are left for the new rate to take effect. He will either sign it or veto it in the next few days. We assume he will OK it, as it is strictly a home-rule matter, with no effect on the state.

The fact is that there is no good reason to be against the additional tax. It will not put Essex County merchants at a competitive disadvantage. Neighboring counties already impose the full 8 percent on purchases.

And the tax does not interfere with residents’ acquisition of life’s necessities. The tax is not collected on food, for example.

One quarter of a percent on a $10 purchase amounts to 25 cents. That surely is not enough to send someone out the door empty-handed.

And the additional revenue is crucial for the county’s operations. You can argue whether government spends too much, provides too many services and ought to be trimmed. But, as it exists in Essex County right now, government can’t continue to provide all the services that people are used to and expect.

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