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Erie County Legislature requests extension of sales tax hikes

The Erie County Legislature unanimously approved a home rule request Thursday to extend the county’s combined 1 percent sales tax and 0.75 percent compensating use tax for another two years, from Dec. 1 through Nov. 30, 2017.

The county’s authority to impose those additional taxes on top of the 7 percent sales tax expires on Nov. 30. Both were created as temporary measures, the additional 1 percent sales tax in the late 1980s and the 0.75 percent compensating use tax during the Red/Green budget crisis a decade ago.

Every two years, the county must receive the state Legislature’s approval to continue the revenue they both generate, which totals about $278 million annually, according to the county budget office. That revenue, which is shared with local municipalities and school districts, would be jeopardized without the extension.

Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, D-Town of Tonawanda, and state Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, R-Amherst, have introduced the legislation in both the Assembly and the Senate, which require the county to approve a home rule request before the state Legislature can act. Once that happens, it will come back to the county Legislature for a final vote.