County extends sales tax

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At a brief special meeting, the Oneida County Board of Legislators took the final step Monday to extend two parts of the county’s sales tax.

With the legislature’s action, the 1 percent and 0.75 percent levies are extended two more years, through Nov. 30, 2017. The renewed sales taxes brought in more than $47 million in 2014.

The remaining 3 percent component of the county sales tax is permanent.

The total sales tax in Oneida County is 8.75 percent — 4.75 percent for the county and 4 percent for the state. The combined sales tax is among the highest charged in any county around the state.

Yesterday afternoon’s vote was the last in a series of procedural steps at the county and state levels. County legislators first voted to request the extension from the state. The state Legislature and governor then enacted a measure to authorize renewal for two more years. On Monday, with the state go-ahead in hand, the county lawmakers voted to extend the taxes.

Minority Leader Frank D.Tallarino, D-12, Rome, said the sales tax could have been cut were it not for the “insufficient” settlement reached by the state, Oneida Indian Nation, and Oneida and Madison counties in 2013. He was the only legislator to vote against the tax renewal.

The vote was 18-1 with four members absent. Missing were legislators Kenneth G. Fort, D-1, Vernon Center, Richard A. Flisnik, R-8, Marcy, George E. Joseph, R-10, Westmoreland, and Harmony L. Speciale, D-21, Utica.

The agreement to resolve long-standing tax and land issues surrounding the Oneidas’ Turning Stone Resort Casino and their real estate purchases will bring an estimated $15 million to the county this year.

Board Chairman Gerald J. Fiorini, R-7, Rome, said he was voting to keep the sales tax at its current level because the board’s Republican majority is committed to cutting the tax levy by 3 percent next year. Sales tax is the county’s largest revenue source, followed by property taxes. Sales tax accounts for a quarter of the county’s $391.5 million budget.

Tallarino then said that a 3 percent tax cut is possible because of savings due the federal Affordable Care Act. He said the Democratic minority caucus wants a 5 percent reduction.

The special meeting of the legislature was required so that a state-set window could be met and the extended tax enacted as of Dec. 1.

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