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St. Lawrence County Lawmakers Introduce Resolution Supporting Ogdensburg Self-Government Bill | County of Saint-Laurent

OGDENSBURG – The St. Lawrence County Council of Legislators on Monday evening tabled a resolution in support of the city’s self-government law that would allow it to collect up to an additional 1% of sales tax revenue within city limits.

Lawmaker David W. Forsythe, R-Lisbon, proposed the resolution, which was tabled until the next council finance committee meeting on July 26. Lawmaker Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg, moved the tabling of the resolution with a second from Lawmaker Harold A. Smithers II, R-Governor.

“It’s another one of those resolutions that come recently,” Lightfoot said before asking the board to table the resolution. “There is no great rush to do it.

“I think there could be unintended consequences,” he added. “I will vote against. “

Lawmaker Kevin D. Acres, R-Madrid, shared Mr Lightfoot’s point of view, adding: “I will not be supporting (the resolution) either.”

“Sadly, there does not appear to be an end in sight to the greed-destroying campaign led by Mr. Acres and Mr. Lightfoot and supported by the entire Democratic caucus of the county legislature,” City Manager Stephen wrote. P. Jellie in an email Wednesday. . “Truly these two men and their Democratic alliance think they know how to manage all the money better and their relentless quest to control all the money knows no boundaries.

“Mr. Acres, Mr. Lightfoot, combined with their masked allegiance to the Democratic caucus, continues to strongly oppose other key initiatives that will potentially save the city millions of dollars over the next 5 years, to fuel the city’s renaissance and to reinvent governments to run more efficiently, “Jellie continued.” These proposals for progressive initiatives call for streamlining the collection of property taxes and consolidating the police service. of the city with the county sheriff’s department, which is at odds with Mr. Acres and Mr. Lightfoot’s agenda to protect the past and isolate the county empire.

“The Town of Ogdensburg will continue to call on the Legislative Assembly of the County of St. Lawrence to empower the County Administrator, without restriction, to work proactively to serve the best interests of the Town of Taxpayers. Ogdensburg … Warning from Mayor Skelly regarding major cuts in city staff is no exaggeration if Mr. Acres and Mr. Lightfoot continue to prevent the city of Ogdensburg from fully achieving its independence to raise funds for the sales tax that originate from the city, and systematically block any initiative to reform local government to operate more efficiently, ”Mr. Jellie wrote.

Mr Forsythe said, while proposing the resolution, that in 2013, when the county called for a self-government law to collect an additional 1% of sales tax revenue, “the city supported us wholeheartedly “.

“I would just like to pay it back,” Mr Forsythe added.

In New York State – where the state constitution gives municipalities and counties the ability to pass laws to govern themselves “as they see fit” – what is known as a government bill. Autonomy can be presented to the state legislature so that municipalities or counties can self-govern. Autonomy legislation must first be passed by both houses of the Legislative Assembly before moving to the governor’s office for signature.

The minimum sales tax rate in New York is 7%, of which 4% goes to state and the remaining 3% goes to local government. But in 2013, St. Lawrence County passed a self-government law to collect an additional 1% of sales tax. Since then, the sales tax rate in the county has been 8%, including within city limits.

Now, eight years later, Ogdensburg introduced autonomy legislation in both houses of the Legislature – Senator Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, introduced the bill to the Senate and MP Mark C. Walczyk, R-Watertown, presented a version of the Assembly. of the same bill. The Ogdensburg Autonomy Bill, if passed, would have allowed them to collect up to an additional 1% of sales tax revenues within its borders.

Lawmaker James E. Reagan, R-Ogdensburg, echoed Mr Forsythe’s comments in support of the city’s efforts and reminded council that many fellow lawmakers “wanted the city of Ogdensburg to preempt, c ‘is what they do’.

“I think it’s very important that we support the city’s efforts in this self-reliance situation, because when our sales tax is renewed,” Reagan continued, “it will be important that we don’t have problem in the State Legislature where they say, “You have to work things out with the city.”

Ogdensburg’s autonomy legislation was introduced following stalled talks between city and county officials over the city’s collection of its own sales tax. The city and county had been back and forth for almost two years before the county council of lawmakers finally took down city officials earlier this year as they sought an extension of the current sharing formula. to further examine long-term options, including pre-emptying – the process by which a city collects its own sales tax.

The current sales tax formula requires Ogdensburg to collect 6.44% of the first 3% of the sales tax the County of St. Lawrence collects, as well as 6.44% of the last 1% the county collects. County takes 83.56% of the remaining 1%, while towns and villages get the remaining 10%. This is the deal the county did not extend earlier this year as the county council of lawmakers tried to get Ogdensburg to collect the same amount of sales tax as towns and villages, which is distributed according to the value of the property and the population.

But, since Ogdensburg is the only town in the county, it is therefore the only municipality empowered by the state to negotiate the sales tax allocation formula with the county.

But following numerous conversations with officials from the state’s tax and finance department, it was determined that Ogdensburg would not be able to pre-empt until March 1, 2022, as the city had to give notice of six months. This prompted county leaders earlier this month to agree to extend the current sales tax sharing agreement with the city until February 2022. The city and county also agreed to a split agreement. up to date for the last 1% of sales tax revenue, as did Ogdensburg’s autonomy legislation. not skip this session.

The updated sharing agreement for the last 1% of sales tax revenue, also starting March 1, 2022, will combine the 6.44% allocated to Ogdensburg with the 10% that goes to towns and villages. That total – 16.44% – will be shared with Ogdensburg, towns and villages in the county on a 50-50 formula of assessed land value and population, according to county administrator Ruth A. Doyle.

But if the city eventually gets its autonomy legislation to collect up to an additional 1% in sales tax, the distribution of the last 1% from the county to the city will cease.

Mr Jellie said the city plans to introduce the same autonomy legislation in the next legislative session.

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Teresa R. Cabrera

The author Teresa R. Cabrera