St. Lawrence County’s new legislature chair could mean new chance for sales tax deal

WWNY St. Lawrence County’s new legislature chair could mean new chance for sales tax deal

CANTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - In St. Lawrence County, new leadership may mean a new chance for a sales tax agreement between the county and Ogdensburg.

The St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators voted 9 to 6 to name Republican Bill Sheridan as the board’s new chairman.

Sheridan takes over for Joe Lightfoot.

With a new chairman, there may be a new outlook on renewing a sales tax agreement with Ogdensburg.

“We’re in pretty good shape to help out a city like Ogdensburg and at the same time keep your towns and villages whole. But we’ll give them a little helping hand,” said Sheridan.

Sheridan thinks the votes are there to give the city a two-year extension on its current sales tax deal. The county had proposed making a deep cut in Ogdensburg’s share.

“This agreement is important to the city and the county and I think it’s important really because of the pandemic that we’re in,” said Michael Skelly, Ogdensburg mayor. “It’s not a time to be divided in a dispute like this.”

Towns and villages also share in sales tax. Monday night, the legislature pledged to keep the town and village share the same for 10 years.

“We assured the towns and the villages that they would stay whole and that’s what I’ve been telling my town boards since this all started a long time ago,” said Sheridan.

Two weeks ago the legislature appeared ready to pass an agreement with the city of Ogdensburg. Then it was tabled. It had been painstakingly negotiated by a special committee headed by Legislator Dave Forsythe.

They say it’s not over until it’s over and that’s doubly true of these sales tax negotiations. They’ve gone on for more than a year and been full of unexpected twists and turns.

Legislators say the tax deal’s chances were definitely lifted by Sheridan’s election as chairman.

“I think we can get it done. I think cooler heads have prevailed and I think it will get passed,” said Forsythe.

Plans are to hold a vote at the county finance committee meeting on January 25. If the agreement gets the thumbs up, the full board could vote on it at its February meeting.

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