QUEENSBURY The issue of raising the Warren County sales tax has been buried once again.
At a special meeting last Friday, Chester Supervisor Fred Monroe had a PowerPoint presentation about the benefits of one percent or one half percent increase in the countys sales tax, despite the fact that an informal poll of the board of supervisor had shown a lack of support for the increase.
Instead of increasing the sales tax, maybe we should advertise that Warren County has one of the lowest sales tax rates in the state, Monroe said. Warren County is one of just five counties out of 62 in the state that has a combined tax rate of 7 percent. All the others are higher.
Monroe said the Revenue Enhancement Committee had been looking at a sales tax increase as a way to raise money to ease the burden of county property taxes on its residents.
One reason we decided to look at the sales tax is because property taxes are paid in one lump sum, but sales tax is spread out over the year, Monroe said. Whether we raise the sales tax or not, all the supervisors agree that county property taxes are too high.
He said that in 2006, the amount of money raised by county sales tax was about $23 million, with about 50 percent distributed to municipalities. A one percent raise would add another $15 million to county coffers to be used to relieve property taxes. How this would actually affect individual homeowners varies.
When I sat here among you, I thought there was some merit in raising the sales tax, said former Lake Luzerne Supervisor Larry Bennett. But in Lake Luzerne, the property tax is $3.54 per $1,000. If that is reduced by one-third, it would be about $2 per $1,000 which would be great for some, but in many homes, it would reduce property taxes by just $44 a year, while those same residents would be spending $103 each year on sales tax.
Aviation Mall General Manager Bob Orlando said he represented retailers in the mall who opposed raising the sales tax.
Our merchants do not support a raise in the sales tax, we already lose some business to Wilton, Orlando said. Raising the sales tax would exacerbate the problem and make it tougher for stores to decide to come here.
Monroe said that any rise in sales tax would impact non-residents as does the property tax. George Weinschenk said there should be a separation of residents and non-residents paying school and county property taxes.
Somewhere I remember hearing No taxation without representation, Weinschenk said. Those non-residents have no voice in our government.
The board did not vote on the issue at the meeting and has no plans to raise the issue again.