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Increasingly, sales taxes are key county funder

Feb 06, 2011 11:29 am
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Sales tax income has become a key component for county budgeting."][/caption]How does one shift from governmental revenues based on income and property taxes to one where monies are added onto the cost of the things we buy, especially those not normally considered necessities? This question, and some local answers vis a vis local counties' fundraising through rising sales taxes, is the focus of a story by Patricia Doxsey of the Daily Freeman who has found that, "County lawmakers reluctant to increase property taxes to meet the financial needs of government long have turned to sales taxes as an easy source of revenue." The piece notes that with rare exception, counties now charge sales tax rates in excess of the state-imposed 3 percent limit for counties. Ulster, Greene and Columbia counties levy a 4 percent county sales tax, while Dutchess County imposes a 3.75 percent sales tax. In addition to the county sales tax levies, the state also takes another four percent.


And in Dutchess County, which is in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority region, an additional sales tax of three-eights of a percent goes directly to the authority, which helps fund larger regional efforts to boost the local economy and keep up with infrastructrure needs. The only caveat, according to Doxsey? Every two years, counties must turn to their state legislators for permission to impose that portion of the county sales tax rate that exceeds 3 percent. "And every two years, counties wait with bated breath, hoping the state grants their request for 'temporary authority' to levy the additional tax." Which means the whole teetering tower of governmental finance could, like so many things, fall prey to recent Tea Party calls to cut all taxes, costs, spending, and budgets.

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