Village slated to get $64,000
Nelsonville’s Village Board on Monday (March 21) welcomed Putnam County’s proposal for sharing sales tax and federal COVID-19 relief funds with towns and villages.
But allocating the federal funds requires planning, said Trustee Chris Winward. Joined by Putnam County Legislator Nancy Montgomery, the board discussed the matter at its monthly meeting, held via Zoom.
County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced the sharing proposal March 10 in Carmel. It would adopt a “share the growth” concept developed by Philipstown Councilor Jason Angell and Cold Spring Trustee Eliza Starbuck and calls on the county to share its sales tax revenue with municipalities in years in which Putnam’s intake tops that of the previous year. In the past, suggestions that Putnam return some sales-tax income to localities went nowhere.
Putnam’s willingness now “is amazing,” said Winward, Nelsonville’s mayor-elect following the March 15 election. “We’re grateful to the county for recognizing and fulfilling the need.”
Odell’s initiative would set aside $5 million in county sales tax revenue and combine it with $5 million from the county’s $19 million in federal COVID-related American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money, to create a pool of $10 million for distribution in towns and villages on a per capita basis.
As the smallest municipality in the county, Nelsonville would get about $64,000, split evenly between sales tax-sharing and ARPA relief. Yet even that much “is great,” Winward said.
She pointed out that no restrictions would accompany use of the sales-tax money, but under federal rules ARPA dollars should be used for such infrastructure projects as water, sewer or broadband upgrades, or to support small businesses and others in need, and for related purposes. Thus spending ARPA “does take a little more figuring out,” she said.
County legislators must approve Odell’s idea, but the Legislature, eight of whose nine members are Republicans like Odell, typically supports her moves. “I’m confident the Legislature will go for all of this,” said Montgomery, who represents Philipstown and part of Putnam Valley and is the lone Democrat. “I’m so glad help is coming. I’d like to see more money go to our towns and villages, but this is a start.”
I must say that I am shocked at how little attention this story has received from the people who live in Cold Spring/Philipstown.
When I stopped by the village today, I expected to see the Champagne flowing, balloons in the air and some kind of parade to celebrate an event that the residents and politicians have been lobbying about for generations. Imagine that: The county is finally going to share sales tax with the towns. This had to be the biggest news in 50 years yet few if anyone I spoke to knew anything about it.
I am also very surprised that this newspaper didn’t do more of a write-up on it — Mike Turton, where are you? This is one story where you really need some “man on the street” interviews.
The most surprising thing of all, however, is the dead silence from the local politicians, and that includes my town of Putnam Valley which is getting a cool $1.2 million. The breakdown is Philipstown $739,341, Cold Spring, $203,342 and Nelsonville, $63,890.
I strongly urge the local pols to get their acts together and figure out ways to use this windfall asap. There are some caveats that go along with the funding, to wit: 1. This cannot be counted on as a regular revenue stream and funds should be used for infrastructure improvements and not general budget purposes, 2. Future disbursements will depend on the entire fiscal position of the County, including taking into consideration fund balance and mandated expenses over which the County ha no control.
So, to everyone who has been complaining for all these years that the County wasn’t playing nice and sharing the sales tax, all I can say is: Ready, set, go! I know that Putnam Valley has some really important infrastructure projects that can use the funding and I’m sure the same is true for Philipstown, as well.
Here’s more detail in a story we published in the March 18 issue.
Thanks very much for referring me to your prior story. I’m surprised I missed it because I am pretty much a regular reader of your esteemed publication.
That being said, I am still shocked that there’s been little to no response from the pols and the general populace/ taxpayers. Even the most politically astute people I talk to don’t know anything about it and I haven’t seen any discussions on social media either.
By the way, the Putnam Valley town supervisor did not even acknowledge this windfall until I brought it to her attention, which I think is disgraceful. The hard-working people of Putnam County have suffered greatly these past two years because of the pandemic. Many of us lost our businesses and livelihoods. Yet our so-called leaders on the town and school boards have not even acknowledged this when they formulate their obscene budgets and the subsequent tax increases.
One would think that they would say something about what amounts to a tax break for the residents of our towns.