St. Lawrence County and Ogdensburg prepare for coming property tax collection changes
Corrected at 9:58 a.m.
BY JIMMY LAWTON
North Country This Week
St. Lawrence County legislators are taking preparations to begin collecting property tax in the city as Ogdensburg plans to push delinquent tax liability to the county.
County Assessor Bruce Green, St. Lawrence County Attorney Stephen Button and St. Lawrence County Treasurer Renee Cole all spoke on the matter Monday, Nov. 22, at a regularly scheduled Finance Committee meeting.Ogdensburg’s decision to push liability to the county coincides with the to move to “opt out” of sales tax sharing and begin keeping its own sales tax . That move stemmed from failed negotiations between the two entities regarding distribution of sales tax.
The city was set to lose as much as $1.5 million in sales tax shares under a proposal put forward by the county.
In an effort to offset the losses facing the city, Ogdensburg officials created a law that would force the county to make the city whole for tax delinquent properties and potentially make the city school district whole for the same. The savings form that was expected to largely offset the loss.
However, that law has been temporarily blocked by Supreme Court Judge Mary Farley following a legal complaint filed by St. Lawrence County and the St. Lawrence County treasurer.
The county believed Ogdensburg had been receiving a larger share than it deserved compared to its population, assessed valuation and sales tax generation.
The city argued that it deserved a larger share because it receives fewer services from the county and towns and villages.
By opting out the sales tax sharing, the city believes it will lose about half as much, however if successful in passing some home rule legislation to keep an extra 1 percent of the funding generated within the city limits officials believe they could break even or collect even more by opting out.
Ogdensburg city council also discussed the difficulties they would likely face in collecting sales tax during their meeting which also occurred Nov. 22. City Manager Stephen Jellie said that enforcement and collection would be "real work" especially in the first two years at it establishes the normal.
Jellie said there is a reason that this is rarely done.