FONDA - Montgomery County supervisors may seek permission to raise the county's sales tax by 0.5 percent for 18 months, but they say they won't try to override the state-imposed 2 percent tax cap.
Members of the Finance Committee approved a resolution that would increase the county's sales tax from 4 percent to 4.5 percent beginning July 1 and ending Dec. 31, 2013.
The measure will go before the full Board of Supervisors next week. If it passes there, the request would need approval from state legislators.
Amsterdam 2nd Ward Supervisor Jeff Stark, who sponsored the resolution, previously asked for an increase of 0.25 percent, saying it would generate about $2 million in additional revenue for the county.
He asked for an amendment doubling the increase to 0.5 percent, and committee members endorsed it.
Stark and Board of Supervisors Chairman Shayne Walters said sales tax is a fairer way to raise money because everyone pays it, not just property owners.
"It spreads the tax burden out," Stark said. "It's not just homeowners. This is about everyone paying their fair share."
Stark chided his colleagues for their negative attitudes.
"Since February, every time someone comes up with an idea, people tell me, 'We've tried that before' or 'It can't work' or 'We shouldn't do this,' but nobody offers a plan of their own," he said.
Without an increase in sales tax, property taxes would have to go up 18 percent, Stark said.
Stark urged his colleagues to act quickly because the state legislative session ends June 30.
"If we don't do this, tell me how we're going to come up with $5 million to address the shortfall," he said.
Minden Supervisor Thomas L. Quackenbush voted for the increase despite misgivings.
"Every tax is a bad tax," he said.
Root Supervisor John Thayer, chairman of the Finance Committee, said before the meeting he preferred to raise the sales tax by 0.5 percent, not 0.25 percent. He voted for the amendment.
St. Johnsville Town Supervisor Dominick Stagliano said he was in favor of raising the sales tax by 0.25 percent, but not 0.5 percent.
"It doesn't take us to the level we need in order to make a difference," Stagliano said.
Palatine Supervisor Brian Sweet said he wished supervisors had a plan for the extra revenue the increase would generate.
"Unless we have a plan in place, we're just moving money around," he said.
One clause in the sales tax resolution referred to "universal agreement that the 2 percent tax cap should be adhered to if possible."
Walters put forth a resolution that would override the tax cap, but no one seconded his proposal, so it died in committee.