Government Addiction to Shopping

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As Monroe County lawmakers ponder the trade of sales tax money for Medicaid relief, a new report came out that spelled out local governments relationship to the tax.

Simply put: It’s a growing addiction.

State Comptroller Alan Hevesi’s office issued a report on sales taxes in New York State that’s worth reading.

In brief the Hevesi report stated that:

***New York State has one of the highest combined state/local sales tax rates in the U.S.

***On the whole, counties are more reliant on sales taxes … even exceeding the amount collected from property taxes. In 1994, county sales taxes represented 20 percent of revenue while property taxes were 26 percent of revenue. In 2004 county sales tax revenue was up to 26 percent while the property tax was at 25 percent.

***In 2004 Monroe County, however, got $118 million from sales taxes but far more, 268 million, from the property tax. Meanwhile, the city of Rochester took in about $20 million more from the sales tax than its property tax.

***As Internet sales of goods grows in popularity, so will the amount of uncollected sales taxes. And that will mean a growing loss from this revenue source.

***The Finger Lakes Region is tied for the slowest rate of growth in sales taxes over the last six years.

***Forty three of the 57 counties in the state (outside of New York City) share the sales tax proceeds. But they share at different levels. The county that shares the most? Monroe County… which keeps only 31 percent of the total take.

Is it any wonder that Monroe County lawmakers want to get more from the sales tax… which is why they are breathing so heavily for that Medicaid Sales Tax Intercept. The plan, of course, was tabled at the Ways and Means Committee meeting a few weeks back – which was just what the Republican President of the county legislature, Wayne Zyra, said he desired.

So while we wait for that shoe to drop, remember that Monroe County believes it has good reason to feel as though it has done plenty for others with the sales tax money. And now maybe it wants a little more help from the tax for itself.