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BUDGET DELIBERATIONS STILL SNAGGED IN ORLEANS LEGISLATORS RULE OUT SALES TAX HIKE, EYE ACROSS-THE-BOARD SPENDING CUTS

The Orleans County Legislature Monday again failed to act on a proposed $29.5 million budget for 1991.

However, in a mock vote, legislators voted 6-1 against increasing the county sales tax to 4 percent from 3 percent before an audience of about 40 businessmen who strongly oppose the increase.

The increase would have brought the total sales tax in the county, including the state's 4 percent, to 8 percent.

All of the businessmen who spoke said that increasing the sales tax would drive consumers to shop outside the county. Increasing the county sale tax would need the approval of the State Legislature.

The Legislature is attempting to increase revenues -- without a hike in property taxes, to pay off a $4.5 million debt, make up $500,000 it lost when the state removed 17 state inmates housed in county facilities and compensate for an anticipated $500,000 lost in aid resulting from state budget cutbacks.

When the Legislature meets again Wednesday, it will consider an across-the-board cut in county spending.

The Legislature Monday tabled a proposal to reduce the county's aid to school districts to 10 percent of the local sales tax receipts from 11.1 percent. The net result of the plan would be a $64,000 increase in the county's share of sales tax receipts.

"To be fair," Legislator Ted Swierczynski said, "if we cut the school's aid by 10 percent, we must cut all departments and agencies by 10 percent."

Legislator Richard Bennet said a 10 percent across-the-board cut in county spending quite possibly would save enough to make up for the deficit.

In addition to giving the school district $648,000 from sales tax revenues, the current distribution formula provides $850,000 to the county's towns and $450,000 to its villages.

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