The controversial 3.75 percent county tax on residential energy sources will be history on June 1.
With $5.2 million in aid secured in the new state budget, the Dutchess County Legislature unanimously approved a resolution April 7 that reinstates the sales tax exemption on home energy sources.
The resolution called upon the state Department of Taxation and Finance to waive a required 90-day notice for such actions, which will allow the exemption to start on June 1, the first day of the new sales tax quarter.
In a memorandum signed April 8, County Executive Marc Molinaro applauded the action, saying, “Becoming the 56th community to impose this sales tax was not our preference but it was our decision, necessary to balance the 2014 county budget. And now it is our decision to repeal it.”
The tax on electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, propane and other home heating sources took effect March 1 after the county legislature voted on removing the exemption last December to close a budget gap.
In his memorandum, Molinaro noted, “Thanks to (state) Sen. Greg Ball and Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, we have secured partial one-time relief from increased mental health demands due to the closure of state psychiatric facilities in our county over the last few years. This assistance enables us to repeal the tax on residential energy sources.”
Before the tax was rescinded, Legislator Sue Serino (R-Hyde Park) had issued a call for the legislature to reinstate the exemption and refund the monies to local taxpayers.
In a news release March 31, she said, “Let’s return that money to the taxpayers who need it. Electric bills were high enough last month without the tax. It’s time to give taxpayers a break with a refund.”
She added, “It’s not the government’s money, it’s the taxpayers money. We should give it back.”
Once the state approved the one-time funding to the county, area legislators messaged their approval — amid some dismay.
“I am proud to have worked with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to provide this necessary relief to Dutchess County,” State Senator Terry Gipson said in a news release. “During one of the harshest winters in recent memory, Dutchess residents were hit with a harmful, unfair energy tax imposed by the county government.”
He added, “Now that aid has been secured, I call on the county to repeal this regressive tax and put money already collected back into the pockets of Dutchess families and small business owners.”
County Legislator Micki Strawinski of Red Hook noted, “This aid is a state budget funded bail-out, but make no mistake the taxpayers are STILL paying the bill. Just transferring the tax from the county to the state – and now ALL the taxpayers of New York will be footing the bill for the years of mismanagement by the Dutchess County Executive’s and Dutchess County Legislative majority.”