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Saturday, August 15, 2020

Top Stories > Government

County legislature proposes residential energy tax

Jul 16, 2020

By Isabel Braverman - staff writer

MONTICELLO — Amid the COVID-19 pandemic financial concerns, the county is tightening its belt and looking at ways to save money.
At the recent Management and Budget Committee meeting, County Manager Josh Potosek proposed a residential energy tax that would apply to homeowners with electric and heating costs (commercial customers already pay the tax).
There is currently not a tax on products for those uses (such as oil, propane, gas, etc.) and the county would collect four percent sales tax on those products.
Potosek said over half of the counties in New York State already have this tax, and Onondaga County recently passed a similar measure.
The tax will impose an estimated eight to ten dollars per month on households.

Potosek said they have looked at similar counties that have this in place. Cayuga County has a population around 76,000, which is close to Sullivan County's population of about 75,000.
From the residential energy tax, Cayuga County generates $2.75 million annually, Potosek said.
If Sullivan County adopts the tax, the revenue would be similar.
Potosek and the legislators said this move would help alleviate the potential of going over the two percent tax cap.
If adopted, it would go into effect on September 1, and payments would be received on a quarterly basis.
It would also be a sunset law, meaning it would cease to exist after a certain date. The legislators said it will be for about a year and a half.
“While I'm not in favor of any kind of taxes, I think that this does take the burden off of the landowners a little bit,” Legislator and Management and Budget Committee Chair George Conklin said. “And we have to do something.”
Legislator Nadia Rajsz expressed concern on how the tax will affect seniors, who are on a limited income.
Legislature Chairman Rob Doherty said if the county raises taxes above three percent, those eligible for the STAR exemption will lose it.
“Let's be clear about this, the bottom line is we're trying to be creative to minimize the tax burdens that we're going to have to go through,” Legislator Ira Steingart said. “This is still going to affect our constituents in the same way, whether you're a renter or you own.”
The legislature is expected to make a decision at an upcoming meeting.

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