Ulster County Government Stands Unified in a Bipartisan Call upon Assemblyman Kevin Cahill to Stop Playing Politics with Ulster County’s Home Rule Request and Hold Ulster County Sales Tax Level

Posted June 21, 2013
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Failure to pass the extension will place property taxpayers at grave risk and force draconian reductions in services at the County, Town and City levels.

Kingston, NY – In Ulster County like most counties around the State of New York, sales taxes are used to protect property taxpayers. Sales tax lessens the burden on homeowners and is paid by residents and visitors alike. In fact, in 2013, UlsterCounty had its first property tax decrease in the past decade. Unfortunately, as the New York State Legislature prepares to close its session, UlsterCounty’s Home Rule request is being held hostage in the New York State Assembly. Assemblyman Kevin Cahill is using his leadership position to block the standard bill from reaching the floor for a full vote. Assemblyman Cahill is attempting to set fiscal policy in UlsterCounty and creating a massive budget hole in the Ulster County 2013 budget and the budgets of every municipality in UlsterCounty, which will result in draconian cuts.

51 of 57 counties across New YorkState have filed similar Home Rule requests in the Senate and the Assembly for an extension of their sales tax. UlsterCounty currently has active companion bills in the Assembly and the Senate, A5130 (sponsored by Assemblyman Skartados) and S4516 (cosponsored by Senator Larkin and Senator Tkaczyk). On April 16th and again on June 18th, UlsterCounty unanimously passed bi-partisan resolutions supporting these critical bills.
UlsterCounty has a 4% sales tax rate which is continued through Home Rule legislation passed by the New York State Legislature every 2 years. Since 1993, this legislation has been routinely passed by the New York State Legislature.

This dangerous game being played by Assemblyman Cahill may result in the loss of $22,000,000 in annual sales tax revenue for UlsterCounty, and $3,031,060 for the City of Kingston. A loss of this magnitude would result in a 29% property tax increase for the County property taxpayers and a 20% property tax increase for the City of Kingston or massive cuts to services. Additionally, the towns would lose $790,712 in sales tax revenue.

“I first want to thank Senators Larkin and Tkaczyk and Assemblyman Skartados for their bi-partisan support of the County’s Home Rule request,” said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein. “It is unconscionable that an individual member of the State Assembly would be able to block a local Home Rule measure that will have unimaginable negative consequences for the taxpayers he represents.”

“Passing the sales tax extension before the end of the State legislative session is critical to our fiscal solvency,” said Comptroller Elliot Auerbach. “In this difficult economic environment, failure of the State Legislature to extend our sales tax rate would have a devastating impact and would likely result in substantial property tax increases and service cuts to cover the revenue shortfall.”

“The taxpayers of the City of Kingston cannot and should not stand for this reckless endangerment of our welfare,” said City of Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo. “Assemblyman Cahill is putting the people, the employees and the services of the City of Kingston at risk,”

“If the Assembly chooses not to act on this routine extension, the financial fall-out will have a devastating effect on the economy of UlsterCounty and have negative impacts across the region,” said Ulster County Legislator Rich Gerentine. “I urge the Assembly to do the right thing for UlsterCounty taxpayers.”

“The 1% sales tax extension brings in a significant amount of revenue to our local municipalities and takes the burden off of our local property taxpayers,” said Legislator Hector S. Rodriguez” “To hold local taxpayers hostage is simply unacceptable and the Assemblyman should stop playing politics with peoples lives.”

“State lawmakers who use this practice of blocking local sales tax bills do a disservice to their constituents and county government partners,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario. “In a climate where counties are struggling to survive under the crushing burden of State mandates these actions only add insult to injury.”

What he’s trying to do is extort us for a takeover of election cost or a takeover of Safety Net or both,” said county Legislator Kenneth Ronk. “Kevin Cahill is trying, as a New YorkState assemblyman, to dictate fiscal policy to County government and that is simply unacceptable.”

“It is disturbing,” said Ulster County Legislator Jeanette Provenzano. “UlsterCounty is the only one having problems with a representative who refuses to support its home-rule request. That’s outrageous. It’s unacceptable.”

“This is a bipartisan plea from the leaders in UlsterCounty: do the right thing for UlsterCounty,” said Legislator Wayne Harris. “We spend a great deal of energy trying to attract tourists to UlsterCounty. This generates sales tax and allows us to keep our property taxes in line.”

Attachment: Photo of County Executive Hein with, from left to right, New York State Association of Counties Deputy Director Mark LaVigne, Rosendale Town Supervisor Jeanne Walsh, Ulster County Legislator Wayne Harris, New Paltz Town Supervisor Susan Zimet, Ulster County Legislative Majority Leader Kenneth Ronk, City of Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo, Ulster County Legislator Hector Rodriguez, Ulster County Legislator Jeanette Provenzano and Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach.