State Passes Home Rule Legislation for Ogdensburg Sales Tax Revenue | St. Lawrence County

OGDENSBURG — Home Rule legislation that would change the amount the city of Ogdensburg collects in sales tax has been passed by both the Senate and the State Assembly.

The measure passed this weekend. The Ogdensburg City Council had passed several resolutions supporting the bill to codify an arrangement between St. Lawrence County and the city regarding the equal sharing of the additional 1% sales tax collected in the city. City officials estimated this would increase sales tax revenue between $600,000 and $1.2 million.

“I am pleased that once again I have been able to respond to the City of Ogdensburg’s request to pass ‘home rule‘ legislation in the Senate regarding sales tax apportionment,” said Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, in a statement Thursday.

Assemblyman Mark C. Walczyk, R-Watertown, expressed similar sentiments.

“I am encouraged that the City of Ogdensburg and the County of St. Lawrence have worked together and found common ground on sales tax revenue sharing. We were happy to carry the bill and do it,” he said. “The only American city on the St. Lawrence is a special place, filled with great people and worth returning to. We can’t wait to see what happens next in the ‘borough.’

When reached for comment, Ogdensburg Mayor Jeffrey M. Skelly said he was glad the legislation passed but felt the city had lost an opportunity for additional revenue by not getting not the entire 1% of the county.

“Getting half of the last penny helps us, but I really think our city needed the whole penny. Having jurisdiction over the last penny gives us the opportunity to become perhaps the 7-cent sales tax community in Upstate New York,” Mayor Skelly said.

He said if the city was able to get the full 1%, it could develop payments in lieu of taxes or PILOT programs with developers and retailers to attract business to the city as well as giving residents what would essentially be a tax cut if they only had to pay 7% instead of 8% sales tax on their purchases.

While the city will take half of the 1%, Mr. Skelly said that if he had had more support from the city council, they might have been able to make it happen.

“Steve Jellie (City Manager) and I fought hard to get this, if there had been more of a united front we might have had all the money. The people who didn’t participate in the effort at all and then jumped on board with the half-penny killed that chance,” Mayor Skelly said.

St. Lawrence County Legislative Speaker William J. Sheridan, R-Hammond, did not return a call seeking comment.

County Legislator James E. Reagen, R-Ogdensburg, thanked Sen. Ritchie and Assemblyman Walczyk for their work in getting the legislation passed as well as City Council and county lawmakers who agreed to the compromise .

“This will provide the City of Ogdensburg with long-term security that it will not face future cuts to its sales tax revenue,” Reagen said.

Mr. Reagen expects that with the opening of the Canadian border, city officials will see higher-than-expected returns since the numbers were used for the previous two years when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. locked the border.

“Under this new arrangement, Ogdensburg will be able to keep all sales taxes collected within the city limits, and most of us who are familiar with Ogdensburg will realize that sales in Canada represent a large number of transactions that occur produce in many of our retail stores on a daily basis,” Mr. Reagen said. “Some people have questioned the compromise we’ve been able to achieve, but they haven’t really taken into account that all the estimates that have been discussed are based on the last two years where no Canadians have featured. in the equation. Now we will earn a lot of money. And now, as we work the shoreline and encourage more businesses to locate in Ogdensburg, our community will stand to benefit directly from this sales tax increase.

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