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Rich getting richer?

Members of the Madison County Board of Supervisors will vote March 13 whether to change the formula used to distribute the county's sales tax revenues to towns, villages and the city of Oneida. Supervisors debated for more than two hours March 1 the merits and drawbacks of basing part of the distribution on population vs. assessed value as is currently done.

Hanging in the balance is the outcome of whether the county will be able to continue collecting an additional 1 percentage point of sales tax approved by the state legislature in 2004. Part of the county's application process to keep that additional point is describing how the money will be distributed and demonstrating that the majority of those affected feel that distribution formula is fair.

Without the blessing of the state, the county will not be able to continue collecting the additional one percentage point or change its distribution formula. A quick decision is imperative says Oneida Supervisor Scott Henderson (Wards 1, 2 and 3). Henderson, who chairs the county's finance, ways and means committee said if consensus isn't reached soon, the county may not get its application in before the legislature leaves session.

"Some communities are not doing as well because of assessed valuation," said Supervisor Richard O. Bargabos (Smithfield) who proposed setting a base for distributing sales tax according to assessed value at 2006 revenue levels and distributing future increased sales tax on a population-based formula. "Growth isn't going to be just in Oneida or Sullivan; it's going to be everywhere. My idea is to see if there is something we can do for everyone."

Supervisor James Goldstein (Lebanon) said he was in favor of any change that would benefit everyone, but he would have to see a consensus that that would be a good thing.

"If you distribute according to population, everyone would gain," Bargabos said.

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