by Michael Kunzwiler, Legislator
I was disappointed to learn that Senator Patty Ritchie refuses to carry Home Rule legislation for St. Lawrence County so that they can raise their sales tax by one-cent per dollar to avoid a double digit property tax increase.
This also concerns me for the residents of Oswego County because of the uncertainty for Mrs. Ritchie to carry Home Rule legislation for us to maintain our one-cent increase.
As many residents may recall, several years ago, Oswego County was faced with the same problems now faced by St. Lawrence County. As Oswego County’s budget was in the red, employees were laid off, services were cut and property taxes increased. The implementation of the one-cent sales tax generates approximately $14 million each year.
Yes, that penny equates to millions in revenue that does not need to be added to property taxes and a large portion is paid by visitors, tourists and those passing through.
Mrs. Ritchie said she would support a sales-tax increase in St. Lawrence County if the people chose to do so by referendum. As a state senator, Mrs. Ritchie should know that there is no state law that provides a referendum for sales tax. It would behoove Mrs. Ritchie to understand the laws of the state before putting out such absurd statements.
Mrs. Ritchie said during a radio debate that if St. Lawrence County were to raise their sales tax by a one-cent per dollar, that people would not want to pay four-cents per dollar more at the gas pump. I’m not sure how she did the math on that but if you add one-cent, it doesn’t add four-cents more.
We’ve heard nothing from Senator Ritchie in as far as lowering the state tax on fuel, which is what drives our cost per gallon far above our neighboring states.
Mrs. Ritchie fails to mention that the reason counties such as Oswego and St. Lawrence are in such hardships is because of the never-ending unfunded mandates that are passed down from the state to local governments.
While Mrs. Ritchie can boast that the state passed an on time budget and cut the deficit, she fails to mention that it was done on the backs of the local taxpayers.
Mrs. Ritchie never fails to take credit for the good things that happen in the state. We hear over and over from her that “I” did this and “I” did that. She fails to give credit to her colleagues in Albany and would like us to believe she’s a one person show. It’s funny how she’s voted with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos 99.45 percent of the time and expects us to believe she’s bipartisan.
We have heard nothing from Mrs. Ritchie despite many pleas to her from the Oswego County legislature to provide mandate relief. Her ignorance of these pleas leads one to question her effectiveness in Albany.