Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava
The biggest voice advocating a “vehicle tax” changed his tune during the July 1 Essex County Supervisors monthly meeting, putting the brakes on an additional registration fee.
Local Law No. 3 of 2013, would have called for a fee of $5 per year to register private vehicles and $10 per year to register commercial vehicles in Essex County. The law was shot down by a weighted vote of 1,706 against and 1,150 in favor, with 65 votes absent.
Town of Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava, who had ambitiously advocated for the fee calling it, “a step in the right direction,” flipped his decision and opposed the tax after receiving criticism from voters in his district.
“I 100 percent disapprove,” said Scozzafava. “I’ve heard loud and clear from voters.”
One of the major concerns Scozzafava voiced at the July 1 meeting was people were worried if there was more money coming in, there would spending without a plan to reduce anything off of the tax levy.
“If very few people are supporting this we are wasting our time drafting this into law,” said Scozzafava.
Town of Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow said the popular opinion he heard from voters reflected Scozzafava’s.
“They think it’s an unfair fee on a tax,” said Morrow. “People driving in Essex County are not all residents but they would be the only people paying.”
Wilmington Town Supervisor Randy Preston, who voted yes on the measure, said by turning down Local Law No. 3 it would raise more questions of where to raise revenue in the county.
“We’re going to be looking at a very big struggle again with the budget,” said Preston.
Essex County Manager Dan Palmer said the county is projected to face a $24.6 million budget for the upcoming year, even with the removal of the Horace Nye Nursing home from the county’s control. With $16 million in estimated revenues, he said the county is still looking at an $8 million dollar gap.
Town of Elizabethtown Supervisor Margaret Bartley said she would be in support of holding a public hearing to see where county residents feel increases should be made to alleviate the deficit.
Town of Westport Supervisor Dan Connell said he would not support the law and after hearing from residents in his town no public meeting would be necessary.
Preston was joined by Randy Douglas (Jay, board chairman), Bill Ferebee (Keene, board vice chair), David Blades (Lewis), Roby Politi (North Elba) and Charles Whitson (St. Armand) in favor of drafting the law.
Along with Scozzafava, Connell, Morrow and Bartley, dissenters included Charles Harrington (Crown Point), Sharon Boisen (Essex), George Canon (Newcomb), Ronald Moore (North Hudson), Michael Marnell (Schroon), Deb Malaney (Ticonderoga) and Ed Hatch (Willsboro). Minerva Supervisor Sue Montgomery Corey was absent for the vote.