Albany inaction could mean property tax hike

June 27, 2017 06:10 PM

Governor Andrew Cuomo has called lawmakers back to the Capitol for a special session starting Wednesday at 1 p.m. The only named priority on the list is mayoral control of schools in New York City.

There's another piece of unfinished business that could affect the taxes of nearly every person in the state: A sales tax extender. If it doesn't pass, it could mean a double-digit property tax increase.

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Just when you thought Troy's property tax battle was over, state lawmakers could throw a financial monkey wrench into next year's budget. They left Albany without reauthorizing an extension of a one-percent sales tax, meaning Troy would lose out on $5 million.

"What it equates to in the city of Troy is about a 25-percent tax increase," Troy Mayor Pat Madden said. "You can't even talk about that. It's not doable."

Rensselaer County would be losing $11 million. Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino says to make up for that, she would need to raise property taxes 20-percent. She added that 90-percent of her budget is state mandated programs. Things like the sheriff's road patrol, senior meals and road paving could be on the chopping block.

"This is absolutely unprecedented," Jimino explained. "Every time we've gone down to have the sales tax extended, which is for more than two decades now, it has been extended."

Out of the usual eight-percent sales tax you pay, the state gets four-percent and counties can charge three-percent. For that extra one-percent, according to law, state reauthorization is needed. 

On behalf of Troy and other cities, towns and villages, every two years the counties have to go back to the state and ask for permission to keep charging an extra one-percent. Jimino doesn't think that makes much sense.

"A bit exasperating every two years to have to ask for permission to continue to levy this penny when so much of it goes to pay for state-mandated programs," she stated. 

Both the Assembly and Senate addressed the sales tax extender in session, but it's caught up in a downstate-upstate battle as a bargaining chip.


WNYT Staff

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