Mar 09, 2010 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Village property taxes could rise if county stops sharing sales tax revenues
Liverpool Mayor Gary White is working with the Onondaga County Mayors Association to urge the county to retain its current sales tax sharing formula.
Leaders from the county’s 15 villages and 19 towns are expected to address the Legislature at a March 15 public hearing on the issue. Deputy Mayor Nick Kochan plans to speak that day on behalf of Liverpool.
According to figures from the county Comptroller’s Office, Liverpool earned more than $585,000 from its share of the 4 percent county sales tax for the year 2008. The town of Salina earned $7.1 million that year, and the Liverpool Central School District got $1.7 million.
The Liverpool Village Board of Trustees met March 8 for a special work session at which they drafted a letter to residents warning that if the county hold on to the $585,000 it has annually shared with the village for the past decade, either village services will be dramatically curtailed or taxes will rise 50 percent.
“The residents need to know that there’s a very real possibility that we may lose all of our sales tax revenue,” White told the trustees. “That revenue represents 25 percent of our annual budget [approximately $2.7 million]. If we lose that revenue stream that would drastically change the way we do business here in the village.”
To make up for the shortfall while keeping services such as police, DPW and code enforcement at present levels, village property taxes would have to be raised by 50 percent, White said.
For the past ten years, Onondaga County has distributed up to $293 million annually to villages, towns and school districts within its borders. The money represents the municipalities’ share of receipts from the county sales tax. The sales tax agreement expires at the end of this year.
In 2009, as the recession settled in, Onondaga County saw its annual sales tax revenues plummet by 5.4 percent, according to state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
The county’s move to keep all of its sales taxes will also affect the City of Syracuse, the county’s towns and its 19 school districts. Local officials are now formulating their 2010-2011 budgets, but the county won’t make its sales tax decision until May at the earliest, which could leave the 2011 portion of each government’s budgets under-funded.
Liverpool Central School District Superintendent Nick Johns said the district’s proposed 2010-11 was prepared figuring on no change in county sales tax formula.
White and town and village officials from across the county are mobilizing to keep the current sale tax formula in place. White and Kochan attended the county Legislature meeting March 8 and were scheduled to meet with county Legislature Chairman James Rhinehart later in the week.
White recently met with Salina Town Supervisor Mark Nicotra and first ward town Councilwoman Colleen Gunnip to discuss the issue.
The letter from village government encourages residents to contact fourth district county Legislator Judy Tassone to register their concern over the potential loss of sales tax revenue. Tassone’s e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The trustees will invite residents to a public hearing about the sales tax formula to be scheduled later this month at the Village Hall.
“It’s our responsibility to explain it to the public,” Kochan said, “and see where it goes from there.”