Ogdensburg on board for extending current sales tax deal with county through 2021
BY JIMMY LAWTON
North Country This Week
OGDENSBURG -- Ogdensburg and St. Lawrence County have tentatively agreed to extend the current sales tax distribution formula through November of 2021.
The negotiations between the city and county had been public and heated at times, with Mayor Jeffrey M. Skelly remaining adamant that Ogdensburg retain its share of the county sale tax.Sales tax in St. Lawrence County is 8% of the cost of purchases. The state takes half of that and the county collects the other 4% which it then divides between itself and the municipalities in a specific, and perhaps convoluted, formula.
Half of the first 3 percent of the 4 percent total received back from the state goes to the county. The other half of the first 3 percent is divided, with 6.4 percent of that going to the City of Ogdensburg and the remaining 43.6 percent divided between the towns and villages.
The remaining 1 percent of the 4 percent total received from the state is divided, with 83.6 percent kept by the county, Ogdensburg getting 6.4 percent and the remaining 10 percent doled out in shares to the towns and villages.
Citing concerns regarding costly state mandates the county had been seeking to reduce the amount of sales tax Ogdensburg receives with hopes of keeping the county economically solvent.
But Skelly has contended that Ogdensburg deserves a large portion of the sales tax due because of the city status. The status forces the city to make the county whole for unpaid property and school taxes. For municipalities with a town rather than city designation, the county must make up that difference.
Skelly has also pointed out that Ogdensburg owns and maintains its own bridges and provides its own police force.
Over the past several months Skelly has publicly rallied against the county’s move to take the funding from the city, which is already struggling economically.
Skelly said losing the revenue would be devastating to the city.
On Tuesday it appeared the county and Ogdensburg had struck a deal to extend the existing formula.
The city unanimously passed a resolution to extend the contract through November of 2020.
According to the resolution the COVID-19 outbreak played a role in the decision to extend the agreement.
Skelly said the county and city will use this time to gather information and data that can be used to hash out a deal next year.
Skelly said he was pleased with agreement and his hopeful similar success can be found in 2021.