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County legislator responds to Elbridge Town Board resolution

The following letter was written in response to a resolution passed by the Elbridge Town Board on Nov. 17 (http://tinyurl.com/34uzey5). Bob Warner represents the 13th district, which includes the towns of Van Buren, Elbridge and portions of Camillus. He welcomes constituent feedback and can be reached at 635-5689.

To the editor:

New York State Law allows cities and counties to impose a sales tax. Some counties choose to share the sales tax revenues with towns, villages and sometimes schools. Last year, after notifying all parties involved, the county revised its sales tax sharing agreement to rectify a number of inconsistencies. Towns, villages and schools were notified, up front, that the county's intent was to retain more of its sales tax revenues, and therefore share less. The reasoning for this is the ever increasing state mandates that the New York State Legislature passes down to counties for federal and state programs, that are not fully funded by the state and federal government, and that the county has no control over. Medicaid is the main culprit here. With the county's share of Medicaid now at close to $100 million per year, and the new county levy at $153 million, you can see the direct impact on our county budget. The sales tax redistribution vote in May passed unanimously by all legislators present.

At no time did I, Bob Warner, insinuate that the town of Elbridge hasn't been "transparent." In fact, it has been just the opposite. I stated repeatedly that the new sales tax agreement would be difficult for some towns (including Elbridge) in the county who had done the right thing using past sales tax revenues as a "credit against" county property taxes. Some towns did not do that, taking the cash instead and spending it within their own budget.

However, because the new sharing agreement is based on assessed valuation, there are some areas of the county where county property taxes will increase. During the recent county budget process, the legislature addressed this with a number of "cuts and adjustments" to the budget, as we had promised last year. This was to soften the affects of the new sales tax agreement, and it is why I voted for the "compromise" agreement. Unfortunately, the county executive vetoed a number of our reductions, resulting in the property tax increases in several suburban towns. I supported the compromise because I insisted that the county "phase out" the towns; not eliminate them as originally proposed. I also supported the villages "infrastructure improvement" program that was created by the Republican Caucus and added to the compromise. I have always supported, and will continue to support, the town of Elbridge in my many years of service to Onondaga County.

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