Essex County Board of Supervisors
After years of lobbying the state, Essex County finally has a sales tax increase.
Members of the county Board of Supervisors voted 17-0 during a special meeting Aug. 26 to increase their share of the sales tax from 3.75 percent to 4.00 percent. The increase brings the total sales tax figure to 8.0 percent with state and county combined. Westport Supervisor Dan Connell was unable to attend the meeting.
The change will go into effect Dec. 1.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week signed legislation allowing counties across the state to make the same increase to their sales tax, which County Manager Daniel Palmer said would reflect an added $2 million in revenue for Essex County.
“I think that it is safe to say that this is something that is desperately needed,” Palmer said. “That figure represents about 12 percent of the tax levy that will now be raised through sales tax. It is the change you guys have been fighting for over the last four or five years.”
“The amount that we will be taken in and the amount that equals on the tax levy is something that is important for people to know,” Elizabethtown Margaret Bartley said.
The increase will put Essex County on par with neighbors Clinton and Franklin County, which were already imposing the 4 percent county sales tax (8 percent total with the state share) and will help the county make up for lost revenue from other state and federal funds.
“Since 2008, the county has lost approximately $4.5 million in revenue sources from state and federal funds,” Palmer said. “Essex County is a tourism-driven county. We have over a million visitors that come in on an annual basis. This increase is an opportunity to collect more revenue from those visitors.”
County Attorney Dan Manning said vendors in the county would be notified through mail of the change as well as through advertising.
“This will give businesses enough time to switch over their machines,” he said.
Some supervisors expressed their approval for the resolution before voting.
“A tax is a tax, but this is certainly not as regressive as property tax is,” Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. “I am sure none of us want to impose an additional tax, but this is a much more fair way to do so.”
“I can’t ever remember personally saying that I would rather go to this restaurant and eat because it is only at 7.75 percent instead of 8,” Newcomb Supervisor George Canon said.
“This is not something that Gov. Cuomo took lightly,” Board Chair and Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas said. “This is one that we felt that home rule was important. He reached out to truly understand what this meant to small communities like ours.”
Douglas also thanked the local state representatives for helping to get the measure signed by Cuomo, including Sen. Betty Little, Assemblyman Dan Stec and former Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward. He also thanked Manning, Palmer and County Treasurer Michael Diskin for their involvement.