Putnam County Votes to Maintain 8.37% Sales Tax for 2 More Years

Initial legislation requires biennial re-approval

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

By a 7-0 vote, the Putnam County Legislature Tuesday night (Aug. 27) extended the current county sales tax of 8.37 percent for two more years, beginning on Dec. 1. Occurring at a special legislative session, the approval capped a day in which the Philipstown business sector had expressed fears the tax would rise by 1 percent and harm local trade.

The annual version of the New York State sales tax form. (File photo)

The annual version of the New York State sales tax form. (File photo)

With somewhat confusing language in their resolution, the legislators “imposed and [specified] there shall be paid an additional 1 percent rate of such sales and compensating-use taxes, for the period beginning Sept. 1, 2007, and ending Nov. 30, 2015.” According to Diane Schonfeld, legislative clerk, the law simply extends the current sales tax, which had been raised by 1 percent in 2007 under state provisions that require an extension every two years.

“It is just continuing the current sales tax the way it is,” she told Philipstown.info Wednesday (Aug. 28). Nothing is being increased.”

District 1 Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra, who represents Philipstown and part of Putnam Valley, voted as part of the unanimous majority. Two legislators missed the meeting.

In a letter to Scuccimarra on Tuesday morning, Debbi Milner, president of the Cold Spring Area Chamber of Commerce, cited chamber members’ concerns that, “with many of our merchants still recovering from the economic downturn,” legislators intended to increase the sales tax above 8.37 percent – or 8-3/8 when listed as a fraction. After the vote, Milner said chamber members “were relieved to learn that the vote was not to increase the sales tax beyond its current level.”

The Putnam County Legislature meets in the upper chamber of the Old Court House in Carmel. (File photo)

The Putnam County Legislature meets in the upper chamber of the Old Court House in Carmel. (File photo)

But the chamber also sought a sharing of county sales tax revenue with local jurisdictions in which it originates. Unlike Putnam, many counties supply a share of sales tax money to towns, villages, school districts, and others. A chart provided Aug. 28 by the Chamber of Commerce and found on the government-openness website publicsignals.com showed that as of 2011, in New York State 43 counties returned some sales tax. Another 15 did not, including Putnam.

“We ask that a fairer share of the taxes collected be distributed back to our area, given the proportion that we contribute to the county,” Milner wrote Scuccimarra before the vote, asking her to “lobby to return more of the collected taxes to our town.”

Milner reiterated that position in comments to Philipstown.info on Aug. 28. “The Chamber would like to see the county begin the equitable sharing of sales tax revenue with local municipalities,” she said. “Putnam is the only county in the Mid-Hudson region that does not do so.”

Similarly, Putnam ranks among those with a heftier sales tax. Outside New York City, of 57 counties imposing sales tax, Putnam County is among 10 where the tax exceeds 8 percent. Five have higher sales tax than Putnam: Allegany, at 8½ percent (or 8-4/8 percent); Erie, at 8¾ (or 8-6/8) percent; Nassau, at 8-5/8 percent; Oneida, at 8¾ percent; and Suffolk, at 8-5/8 percent.

2 thoughts on “Putnam County Votes to Maintain 8.37% Sales Tax for 2 More Years

  1. I agree with Chamber of Commerce President, Debbi Milner, that fair sharing of county tax revenues with Philipstown should be a high priority. In the last County legislature election, Barbara Scuccimara opposed such revenue sharing, while the Democratic candidate strongly favored Philipstown getting its fair share of tax revenue.

    The moral of the story is that it is important for voters to pay attention, at election time, both to what the candidates say and what they do. The result of County Legislator Scuccimara’s “go along to get along” style in the Republican-dominated county legislature is that Philipstown gets no representation. This should be of concern to Republicans, Democrats and independents in Philipstown and the portion of Putnam Valley she was elected to represent.

  2. I have the misfortune to be in the sliver of Putnam Valley that is part of Ms. Scuccimarra’s legislative district, and based on my 20+ years of political activism, I consider her to be, to put it kindly, one of the least effective, most cynically partisan politicians I have ever encountered.

    There has not been one issue that I know of where she has done what’s right for the people of her District and the County. Her treatment of the Cold Spring business owners has been particularly reprehensible, as shown by her stance on every issue that affects us, such as the sales tax and the so called “precious metals” law that will hit the antique dealers come this October.

    The voters of both our towns have yet to realize that elections do indeed have consequences; some intended, some not so much. Politicians like Scuccimarra count on the fact that most citizens are at best apathetic when it comes to who will represent them. More and more people don’t even bother to vote for one reason or another. They don’t wake up till something hits them close to home. Meanwhile, for the Ruling Class of Putnam, the beat goes on.