St. Lawrence County might be closer than ever to getting a sales tax increase.
That's the opinion of Jon Putney, who chairs the county's Board of Legislators.
He was interviewed for 7 News This Morning. Click on the picture to see the full interview.
The county has asked to increase the tax it charges for purchases from 3 to 4 percent. Added to the state's 4 percent, the total sales tax for the county would rise from 7 to 8 percent.
But state senators Patty Ritchie and Joe Griffo -- who both represent the county -- have refused to sponsor the legislation in Albany necessary for the increase.
The extra cash would avoid huge property tax increases for county homeowners, like the most recent hike of 13 percent for the current budget year.
Without the increased revenues from sales tax, official predict property tax rate increases will be in the double digits for the next five years.
The latest glimmer of hope was to get the sales tax increased through last week's state budget process. But that failed.
Putney says the issue isn't dead yet.
Putney says he's talked to state representatives and thinks St. Lawrence County's constant, drawn-out battle to get the increase will be over come June.
"I'm optimistic that things will move forward," he said. "I think everybody at this point realizes what's at stake for the people of St. Lawrence County."
Putney says he thinks the county's towns and villages support the plan.
"I think you have a large amount of support amongst the municipalities at this point," he said.
"I think everybody's pretty much on board, so time will tell," he noted. "Certainly I'll be watching and waiting to see what will happen here with our state senators."
Putney says Ritchie's and Griffo's positions have softened after the governor -- who was visiting Clarkson University in Potsdam earlier this year -- was asked about the increase.
"Given the softening of their positions, I don't see any reason why they wouldn't want to help," he added.
The governor said he would sign the request, if it made it to his desk.
Saturday, February 13, 2016, Watertown, NY
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