SCHENECTADY COUNTY — It was town and not county finances that concerned several of the speakers at a public hearing Tuesday night on Schenectady County’s proposed 2018 county budget.
Glenville Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle and seven other speakers — many of them running for elected office this fall — said the county’s system for distributing sales tax money is unfair to the county’s five towns.
The towns receive less than 3 percent of the money.
“This is unfair, and this is not sustainable,” said Koetzle, a Republican who in recent weeks has launched a public campaign against the sales tax formula.
He and other speakers at the hearing in the County Legislature chambers in Schenectady argued that the current sales tax distribution agreement, which controls the allocation of about $98 million annually, should be scrapped prior to its current expiration date in November 2020.
County Legislature Minority Leader James Buhrmaster, R-Glenville, last Friday introduced a resolution calling for immediate reopening of the sales tax negotiation, but was told by Legislature Chairman Tony Jasenski, D-Rotterdam, that the resolution would need to go through the Ways and Means Committee, which doesn’t meet again until November.
“We’re not asking anything huge to happen. We’re asking for a dialogue,” Buhrmaster said.
County officials noted that any renegotiation would require agreement from the city of Schenectady as well as the county. Under the current distribution formula, the county keeps 75 percent of sales tax revenue, the city receives 13 percent, and Metroplex takes another 9 percent.
“Something as important as the sales tax needs due deliberation,” Jasenski said. “Just because the Rules Committee is meeting tonight doesn’t mean your resolution should be considered.”
The Legislature will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday to vote on adoption of the proposed county budget.
The proposed spending plan totals $319.8 million, up $1.1 million from this year. The proposed tax levy would be $70.4 million, which is expected to result in a roughly 1 percent cut in county property tax bills.