Bonacic Gives Nod to Sales Tax Increase in County
MONTICELLO May 11, 2007 The Sullivan County Legislature and Senator John Bonacic reached an agreement on yesterday regarding the County’s request for a one-half percent increase in the sales tax and for an increase of up to five percent for the County’s Hotel Occupancy Tax, more commonly called the “Room Tax.”
Legislature Vice Chairman and Finance Committee Chair Jonathan Rouis said the agreement came after a meeting in Albany yesterday between Senator Bonacic, County Manager David Fanslau and Legislators Rouis and Jodi Goodman which was initiated by the County and facilitated by Legislator Goodman.
“We set up a meeting with the Senator in Albany, during which we discussed the County’s proposal for the increase, as well as some key areas the Senator believes should also be included. We considered every option, and came to a compromise in the best interest of the taxpayers of Sullivan County,” said Rouis.
Now the legislation will be introduced in the State Senate, where it must pass before being signed into law by Governor Spitzer. The sales tax increase legislation was already passed through the State Assembly by Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther on April 30.
Assemblywoman Gunther released a statement saying, “The most important thing about this agreement is its keeping real property taxes stable and funding available for key initiatives, such as Public Works paving projects, more Sheriff’s Deputies and an enhanced fire training facility, which are all things that benefit the residents and communities here in Sullivan County .”
The County’s new plan for the anticipated $6 million in sales tax revenue is:
• 46.375 percent, or roughly $2, 782,500, of the total new revenue will be utilized to address the County’s need for increased funding for ensuing capital building projects such as the mandated new County Jail.
• 12.875 percent, or an estimated $772,500, of the total new revenue will be used to address Department of Public Works projects, such as the paving of roadways and bridgework.
• 12.875 percent, or approximately $772,500, of the total new revenue will be utilized for Public Safety initiatives such as Gang Prevention Programs and additional Sheriff’s Deputies to patrol the County.
• 12.875 percent, or roughly $772,500, of the total new revenue will be utilized for Farmland Preservation and Flood Mitigation initiatives through the Endangered Property Protection Program.
• 6.75 percent, or an estimated $400,000, of the new revenue will earmarked for the Firematics program, for projects such as the completion of the Fire Training Center additions.
• 8.25 percent, or approximately $500,000, of the new revenue will be shared with the towns and villages under the specification that the monies must be utilized for property tax relief.
County Manager David Fanslau said, “As part of this entire package, I have agreed, at the urging of the County Legislators and the State Legislators, to build my proposed budget around the intended goal of not increasing the County tax rate in 2008 and 2009.”
Legislator Goodman stated, “This agreement embraces the whole county. It fiscally enables us to address property taxes, while enhancing public safety initiatives. It also ensures continued economic growth through our Visitor’s Association. I would like to personally thank Senator Bonacic for giving us the opportunity to better serve our constituents.”
Senator Bonacic also agreed not to oppose legislation that would support the County’s request for an increase in the Hotel Occupancy Tax. The revenues realized from this increase would go to fund the tourism and marketing efforts of the Sullivan County Visitor’s Association, said Fanslau.
“The original plan was to have the revenues from the Hotel Occupancy Tax fund the County’s tourism efforts, and to reduce the reliance on General Fund appropriations,” said Fanslau.
Rouis said, “This agreement is for the greater benefit of County residents, and was reached in the spirit of bi-partisan cooperation.”