Dire Consequences for Ulster County, New York
- Jul 16, 2013 | Gail Cole
The local sales and use tax rate in Ulster County, New York, is 4%. That includes a 1% temporary sales tax that needs to be renewed by state lawmakers every two years or face extinction. Passage of Home Rule measures is usually routine, as revenue generated by the additional sales tax helps reduce property tax by spreading the cost of necessary services to visitors as well as residents. Yet this year, Ulster County found itself in a sales tax squabble that resulted in the death of the proposed legislation.
It wasn't for lack of trying. Ulster County "unanimously passed bi-partisan resolutions" in support of "active companion bills in the Assembly and the Senate:" A5130 and S4516. Yet the bills were reportedly "held hostage" by Ulster Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (D).
Mr. Cahill sponsored separate legislation that would have granted the sales tax extension "if the county agreed to take on the cost of local elections from municipalities." Approximately half of the Home Rule counties in New York pay for the cost of municipal elections.
Ulster County Executive Mike Hein (D) called Mr. Cahill's actions "unconscionable." He said blockage of the Home Rule measure would have "unimaginable negative consequences" for Ulster County taxpayers. Mr. Cahill, however, said he was open to negotiating: "It's he [Mike Hein] who does not want to negotiate."
Wherever the fault may lie, the result is what matters, and Ulster County may soon find out just how unimaginably negative the consequences are. The New York Legislature has concluded its 2013 session and is not due back in Albany until 2014. They left without passing an Ulster County Home Rule bill, and the additional sales tax is set to expire later this year.
Mr. Hein predicts that, unless legislators return to settle this matter, it will "impact the county to the tune of $22 million and the city of Kingston to the tune of $3 million."
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