New York State 48th District Senate candidate Amy Tresidder has stressed the importance of respecting the Home Rule legislation request that has been made by St. Lawrence County to allow them to increase their sales tax rate. “Local government officials are elected to serve the people. They are aware of the needs and wishes of their constituents and they should be allowed to govern for those they represent,” Tresidder said. “To deny that right is to deny democracy.” Tresidder was referring to Patty Ritchie’s refusal to carry legislation for St. Lawrence County seeking authority to explore a one-cent per dollar sales tax increase to prevent a large property tax increase.
In order for St. Lawrence County, or any county, to increase the sales tax, state representatives must pass legislation to allow it in Albany. “It’s wrong to side-step local officials. By refusing to carry the legislation in Albany, Mrs. Ritchie is dictating to the residents of St. Lawrence County what’s best for them. They deserve a choice and Ritchie has taken that choice from them by her refusal to carry the legislation,” Tresidder said.
A sales tax increase would not come without a public hearing and county officials would take into consideration all opinions before making a decision. “Mrs. Ritchie is quoted as saying she is an advocate of public referendums and letting the people decide, yet her actions are completely contradictory,” Tresidder said.
Tresidder, who serves as a member of the Oswego County Legislature, added that the unfunded mandates that are being passed down from the state to local governments have made budgeting for 2013 a cumbersome task. Ritchie is also quoted as stating that last year St. Lawrence County cried poor.
Tresidder countered, “Yes, all counties have been crying poor because the state passed its budget on the backs of the local governments. As county legislators we have been pleading with our state representatives, including Mrs. Ritchie, to provide us with real mandate relief. That plea has fallen on deaf ears and each local government must decide how to pay for these costly unfunded mandates.” Tresidder said the decision of how to pay should not be dictated by Albany politics, too.
“Each local government must decide whether to cut services or raise property taxes,” Tresidder said. “St. Lawrence County officials also wanted to give residents the option of raising the sales tax instead of property taxes. Given the number of visitors to the county, as tourists, shoppers or students, a significant amount of sales tax revenue is generated by people residing outside of the county. The taxpayers were stripped of that option to choose by Ritchie’s refusal to respect Home Rule legislation. Her refusal shows disrespect for those elected by the people to represent them and therefore insults the people of St. Lawrence County.”
“It appears that just because the county board has a democratic majority, Mrs. Ritchie feels she must keep her pledge to Albany special interests, but when her political bosses in Albany needed her to vote for the millionaires tax, she did what they wanted. When the Republican controlled Jefferson County Legislature asks for authority to charge additional sales tax, Patty Ritchie did what they wanted. The fact is, Patty Ritchie has supported tax increases at the state and local level and is only refusing to give St. Lawrence County the option because of partisan politics. We deserve a senator who puts the needs of the residents above politics, someone who respects local government and home rule,” Tresidder stated.
Tresidder concluded by stating that, whether you are for or against an additional sales tax, the residents of St. Lawrence County have not had the opportunity to be heard. “They had one person make the decision for them. By refusing to carry Home Rule legislation in Albany, Patty Ritchie is saying that she, and only she, knows what’s best for everyone in St. Lawrence County. It is not the role of a state senator to autonomously make decisions, driven by partisan political feelings, which should rightly fall within the jurisdiction of local governments.”