ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed another round of “extenders,” permitting two dozen counties, including Erie, to keep in place or increase existing surcharges on local sales taxes.
The governor’s approval of the measures, which were requested by 24 county governments, will keep intact hundreds of millions of additional dollars in sales-tax revenue that the counties are able to collect, the result of a 40-year tradition of Albany approving the so-called extender bills.
By law, no county in the state can collect more than 3 percent in local sales taxes without first getting a home rule message from the local Legislature and then approval from the state Legislature and governor.
A recent Buffalo News article on the Albany’s sales tax extender exercise showed only four counties in the state do not charge beyond the 3 percent level. The state sales tax is 4 percent.
Among the counties getting sales tax extenders signed into law Monday was Erie, which has a 1 ¾ percent surcharge beyond the 3 percent level. The total sales tax in the county is 8.75 percent, a level that has kept Erie and Oneida counties tied as the highest in the state for some years.
Other Western New York counties getting sales tax surcharge extender bills approved Monday were Allegany and Genesee. Other counties in the area and elsewhere in New York had their sales tax bills signed into law earlier this summer.
County governments say the extra sales tax amounts are necessary to help pay for state-mandated costs and to avoid even higher property taxes. Cuomo this year sought to make permanent the current, higher sales tax levels to avoid local and state politicians from having to deal with the issue every two years, an idea that died in the Assembly.
The governor’s bill signings on Monday keep the higher levels in place in the counties until the end of November 2015.