LOUISVILLE - Town board members rejected a resolution supporting the countys efforts to raise their sales tax from 3 to 4 percent.
The increase in the countys 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 wasnt totally against a sales tax increase, but he would rather see a half percent increase.
Why dont they go for a half and do some cutting? he asked. What are they going to do with the extra $5 million? We know theyre 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 OKeefe agreed with Mr. Carroll.
If weve got to start cutting, theyve got to start cutting.
Mr. OKeefe also took issue with the countys plans to keep the extra 1 percent for themselves.
If they get the 1 percent, theyll keep it for a few years until they get their finances in order, Mr. Legault said when presenting the resolution. I dont have a problem with that.
Mr. OKeefe disagreed, I think we should get part of that increase, he said. If we dont get it now, were 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.
Dont 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 countys 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 dont 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. Its that simple, she said.
Ms. Schneider and Mr. Legault both supported the resolution, while Mr. Carroll and Roy A. Slim Beshaw opposed it. Mr. OKeefe 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 countys financial burden across more of the population.
By going to 1 percent, youre getting everybody to participate, not just you and I, she said, adressing her fellow board members.