LIVINGSTON COUNTY – Government gridlock is upsetting the future of $8 million in sales tax that officials claim the County depends on.
County Administrator Ian Coyle reported to the County Ways and Means Committee Monday afternoon that a bill allowing the County to collect one percent of sales tax, which the New York State government has historically re-passed every few years as it expires, is now in limbo. The State’s legislature is now in recess with no date set for when it will start again.
“It does look like the hold-up is in the Assembly,” said Coyle. “For us, it’s about an $8 million impact. There’s a lot of commentary coming out of Albany about if they’re going to come back, when they’re going to come back. Just last week Joe Errigo did say that he got all the way to Utica and they called him back telling him to turn around, only to say they’re sorry but they’re not going to come back and do it.”
Coyle said that the implications of the bill failing would be a shortage tens of millions of dollars
County officials re-iterated that the process of re-applying for this one percent of sales tax puts counties in a position to lose millions in annual revenue and would like to see the process changed.
“Every couple years we have to go, hat in hand, to the legislature,” said Coyle. “Every couple years there are usually bills that say ‘let’s just make this permanent so we don’t have to keep coming back, so we don’t have to jeopardize all these county budgets. But those never pass so we’re left with this process, which is coming back and coming back every couple of years.”
Coyle said that 53 counties depend on the routine passing of these bills to continue to bring in millions of dollars in sales tax.
Coyle has his own theories about what this year’s exceptional gridlock is about.
“The timing is a bit suspect. Is it really just about mayoral control in the Assembly?” said Coyle. “Or is it the fact that we now have the senate advancing the health care legislation at the federal level which includes a requirement that the state cannot charge counties for Medicaid, which obviously the state would then have a 2.3 billion-dollar hole starting in 2020?”
For now, Coyle is planning on the County receiving the $8 million and will budget for 2018 presuming so.