By Janine Bowen: Putnam County may soon join 44 counties in sharing their excess sales tax with the towns. During a Legislature meeting on Tuesday night, the legislators discussed the idea, which was put on the agenda at the request of District 2 legislator Sam Oliverio. “This year, we are going to end up with an excess of approximately $2 million more than we had assumed we would get in sales tax. If we were to give 10 percent of that…to those towns that create the sales tax for us by taking care of the infrastructure; providing our emergency services and all that good stuff, it would be a really nice thank you to those communities,” said Oliverio. Oliverio has attempted to introduce this concept into the budget before; once in the late 1990’s and twice in the early 2000s, but without success. The idea of sharing the county’s excess sales tax proved controversial among the legislators, with many giving reasons why the concept should not be adopted. Finance Commissioner, William Carlin pointed out that there might not even be money to share, as Oliverio anticipated. “At this point, I don’t know if there is an excess,” said Carlin. “You can’t just look at one line of the budget; you have to look at all the lines. We won’t know until January 15, after this quarter is done, if we have an excess of sales tax.” Carlin also pointed out that even if there is excess, the county might need to use it to subsidize other things, such as overtime for county sheriffs. He also believes that before the county even considers sharing their excess sales tax, they must first pay off the Pension Amortization Bill, which Putnam adopted several years ago as an alternative to eliminating services or raising taxes. “I would disagree that there is any money to be given out until that bill is paid,” asserted Carlin. Other concerns about the adoption of tax sharing included the question of how the amounts would be appropriated and whether or not sharing the sales tax would cause the county tax to increase. “There’s a whole laundry list of…reasons why we shouldn’t do this,” said Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra. The legislature agreed to discuss the topic again during their closed meeting on December 6th, as well as to place the topic on the agenda for discussion again in January.
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