Assembly Minority Calls On Silver To Authorize Sales Tax Extender

Assembly Minority Conference Hopes to Address Issue At Tomorrow’s Session
July 25, 2007

Assembly Minority Conference members from Suffolk County have called on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to request that the Assembly address legislation authorizing Suffolk County to extend the 1 percent sales tax extender when the Assembly returns to Albany tomorrow. Without approval from Albany, the county is facing severe cuts to government services and a possible property tax increase.

The Assembly Minority Conference members include Assemblyman Phil Boyle (R, I, C – 8th AD), Assemblyman Jim Conte (R, C, I, WF – Huntington Station), Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R, C, I – Smithtown), and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (R, I, C – Sag Harbor). They cite that the failure to grant the county the authority to collect the additional sales tax will continue to have adverse consequences to county services and to property taxpayers – who will most likely be asked to make up the difference. The State Senate has already passed this legislation in their house.

“Suffolk County property taxpayers are already over burdened. By not granting the county the authority to collect the additional 1 percent, the Assembly Majority Conference members are forcing two things to happen – services will be weakened, if not all together eliminated and property taxes will go up,” said Assemblyman Thiele.

The proposal, originated by Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, would extend the 1 percent sales tax increase for another two years. The current plan, which allows the collection of the additional 1 percent, is set to expire on November 30. Unless the county is given the authority to extend the sales tax, by the State Legislature, the county expects to lose $300 million in tax revenue. Already, Levy has announced that he has canceled the hiring of 100 new county employees and is ready to cut funding for police and sheriff departments as well as hospitals in order recover from the anticipated income lost.

Assemblyman Conte stated, “I agree with County Executive Steve Levy that the passage of the sales tax bill should not be held hostage by liberal politicians with their own agendas.”

“I agree with County Executive Levy that this vital issue must be addressed by the state Assembly at the earliest possible date. That would be tomorrow,” commented Assemblyman Boyle. The Assembly is set to reconvene tomorrow afternoon.

Additionally, the Assembly Minority Conference members are requesting that legislation, which would extend the ¼ percent sales tax for environmental protection until 2030 also, be placed on tomorrow’s agenda for an immediate vote. An immediate vote is necessary to insure that a referendum can be held this November regarding Suffolk County land preservation and water quality protection.

“We fund government through various forms of taxation. The sales tax here in Suffolk, being a tourist destination, means that we’re bringing in outside revenue. Without this outside income, the property tax payers here could be hit with at least $300 million in additional property taxes. Because I do not believe County Executive Levy would put this burden onto the taxpayers, the size of our government will shrink. There are many people who think this is a good idea, but there are also important services and functions of county government that will suffer without this extension, especially when it comes to land preservation,” said Assemblyman Fitzpatrick.