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County Legislature debates extending the county's sales tax rate

(WKTV)- The Oneida County Legislature on Wednesday will decide whether or not to extend the county's 8.75% sales tax rate.

County Executive Anthony Picente says that, while lowering the sales tax rate would be more popular with taxpayers, it's not fiscally responsible.

"If medicaid costs weren't what they were it'd be easy to cut the sales tax. That's another factor. Those are the other things that people don't look at. Medicaid is still $55 million a year," says Picente.

County Legislator Dave Gordon, D-14, will not vote to extend the current sales tax rate.

"I'd rather vote for an amendment to reduce. We have the statistical data, we have the surplus and more recently with the agreement with the Oneida Indian Nation supposedly we have $12 million coming through so we have the financial ability to do it," says Gordon.

While a .25% cut would cost the county around $7.5 million, it would only save taxpayers pennies; around 25 cents on a $100 purchase. But Gordon says those purchases add up in the course of a year.

"The average consumer has hundreds if not thousands of purchases a year. Those cents do add up," says Gordon.

Picente says the Oneida Nation settlement shouldn't be a cure-all for the county's current problems, but rather, security for its future and that of its taxpayers.

"The idea of that settlement was to move us forward. Not to move us backwards and not to stay status quo. So you can't look and say 'we'll just trade one revenue for another' and then we've gone no further ahead".

The board of legislators will vote at its regular meeting, 2 p.m. Wednesday.

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