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Madison County: Sales tax distribution formula retained

The Madison County Board of Supervisors voted March 13 to retain the 1 percentage point of additional sales tax Madison County has been collecting since 2004. The state Legislature must reauthorize the move every two years.

Currently, the county's sales tax rate is 8 percent, half of which remains with the county. The supervisors want to keep it that way, but without state approval, the county will lose that extra 1 percentage point.

That percentage point, a piece of the approximately $9.5 million in sales tax revenue collected by the county, is distributed to towns and villages according to taxable assessed value of real property. Some leaders of smaller municipalities feel this is inequitable and have fought recently to have a portion of that revenue distributed according to population.

In an eleventh-hour amendment of a resolution presented by Smithfield Supervisor Richard O. Bargabos, Cazenovia Supervisor Elizabeth Moran gained enough board support to dead-end an initiative to change the sales tax distribution formula. The town of Cazenovia would face the biggest annual losses if the county moves to a population-based formula.

Bargabos proposed at recent meetings of the finance, ways and means committee that the supervisors consider changing its sales tax distribution formula from an assessment-based model to one based -- at least partially -- on population. His proposal suggested capping distribution to towns and villages at the 2006 rate and distributing by population anything collected above and beyond that amount.

At a finance, ways and means committee meeting March 1, a 3-2 vote of the committee put the measure in front of the entire board of supervisors, even though a straw poll showed 11 of the 19 supervisors present were against changing the formula. Those 11 said they felt there were other options. Supervisors Alexander Stepanski (Stockbridge), George Turner (Madison) and Douglas Holdridge (Lincoln) were not present at that meeting to weigh in.

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