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Louisville town board rejects sales tax support resolution

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LOUISVILLE - Town board members rejected a resolution supporting the county’s efforts to raise their sales tax from 3 to 4 percent.

The increase in the county’s portion would raise the overall sales tax from 7 to 8 percent, as there is also currently a 4 percent sales tax collected by the state.

Councilman Patrick D. Carroll said he wasn’t totally against a sales tax increase, but he would rather see a half percent increase.

“Why don’t they go for a half and do some cutting?” he asked. “What are they going to do with the extra $5 million? We know they’re not going to give it to us.”

Mr. Carroll was referring to estimates that indicate a 1 percent increase would raise between $13 million and $14 million.

Mr. Carroll said a half-percent increase would generate roughly $7 million, leaving the county only $2 million short.

Councilman Daniel O’Keefe agreed with Mr. Carroll.

“If we’ve got to start cutting, they’ve got to start cutting.”

Mr. O’Keefe also took issue with the county’s plans to keep the extra 1 percent for themselves.

“If they get the 1 percent, they’ll keep it for a few years until they get their finances in order,” Mr. Legault said when presenting the resolution. “I don’t have a problem with that.”

Mr. O’Keefe disagreed, “I think we should get part of that increase,” he said. “If we don’t get it now, we’re never going to get it.”

Mr. Legault noted St. Lawrence County is one of only five counties in the state charging 3 percent.

While Mr. Carroll said he may one day support a the sales tax increase, he would rather see it implemented incrementally.

“Don’t give it to them all at the same time,” he said. “I would like to see them go to a half-percent and maybe raise the levy a little bit.”

Mr. Legault noted it was the county’s reluctance to increase the levy that got them in their financial mess in the first place.

“Ms. St. Hilaire (County Administrator Karen M.) explained the previous legislature used fund balance to reduce taxes,” he said. “I don’t know why they would reduce taxes and not keep them the same.”

Councilwoman M. Gail Schneider said she knows why.

“They reduce taxes to get voted in. It’s that simple,” she said.

Ms. Schneider and Mr. Legault both supported the resolution, while Mr. Carroll and Roy A. “Slim” Beshaw opposed it. Mr. O’Keefe abstained.

“People from outside the area who come and use our services would have to pay that,” Mr. Legault said.

Ms. Schneider also noted a sales tax increase versus a property tax increase would help spread the county’s financial burden across more of the population.

“By going to 1 percent, you’re getting everybody to participate, not just you and I,” she said, adressing her fellow board members.

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