Lawmakers renew Orange, Ulster, Sullivan sales tax rates

State lawmakers have renewed the sales tax rates in Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties for another three years, approving so-called extenders for those and 50 other counties as part of a giant mop-up bill the Legislature passed on Thursday after being summoned back to Albany.

Lawmakers had ended their 2017 session on June 21 with unfinished business, most conspicuously the extension of mayoral control of the school system in New York City, which was set to expire on Saturday. The renewal of counties’ sales tax rates, a normally routine step for the Legislature, got snarled in the political sniping over mayoral school control and charter schools and didn’t get done. That left open the possibility that the rates would drop to a default level of 3 percent in December and start costing counties revenue.

The hodgepodge bill passed on Thursday and signed already by Gov. Andrew Cuomo actually extended the rates longer than planned – three years instead of two. Though that spares the counties the chore of returning to Albany for permission again until 2020, it is not the permanent solution the counties had asked for. They wanted to eliminate the need to continue getting state approval for their sales tax rates.

At stake locally was an additional 0.75 percent in sales tax for Orange and a 1 percent bump each for Ulster and Sullivan counties. Though seemingly small, those rate increases generate large sums to help fund the county government and share with municipalities. In Orange County, the added 0.75 percent translates to $39 million for the county and $14 million for its towns, villages and cities in a year.

With the addition of 4 percent charged by the state, the full sales tax rates that shoppers pay are 8 percent in Ulster and Sullivan and 8.125 percent in Orange. Orange’s rate includes a 0.375 percent tax paid to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for Metro-North train service.

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    Chris McKenna

    Chris McKenna covers Orange County government and politics for the Times Herald-Record. He has been a reporter at the newspaper since 1999. Read Full

    Leonard Sparks

    Leonard Sparks covers the City of Newburgh as a reporter for the Times Herald-Record newspaper. Read Full
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