MAYVILLE - The proposal to increase Chautauqua County's sales tax rate has changed since last week's committee meetings.
County lawmakers are now being asked to consider a .5 percent increase to the current rate, not a .75 percent increase.
Passage of the proposal would be the first step in taking the county's sales tax rate to 8 percent, not the initial proposal of 8.25 percent.
The county's sales tax rate decreased from 7.75 percent to 7.5 percent on Dec. 1. For each quarter of a percent on the sales tax, the county sees roughly $3.25 million in revenue. County Executive Greg Edwards explained the initial proposal as being one way to address the coming 2012 budget deficit.
The proposal failed to pass the Administrative Services Committee last Monday, stalling in a 2 to 2 vote. The proposal was supported by Majority Leader Larry Barmore, R-Gerry and John Runkle, R-Stockton. It was opposed by Jamestown Democrats Lori Cornell and Paula DeJoy. Committee member Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia, was absent. Any legislator has the power to push through any resolution to the full legislature despite its failing in committee.
The resolution has also been changed to phase out the county's "hold harmless" over the course of three years, rather than all at once - beginning on Dec. 1 of this year.
The county pays $2.1 annually to its towns, villages and cities. The payment "can no longer be absorbed without substantial unacceptable county property tax increases," the resolution reads. The resolution can be found on pages 16 and 17 of the prefiled agenda for Wednesday's legislature meeting.
The changes were made in Thursday's Audit and Control Committee meeting, with legislators Jay Gould, R-Ashville; Jerry Park, R-Forestville, and Doug Richmond, R-Westfield, voting "no" on the amendment to change the percentage of the proposed sales tax rate increase. John Gullo, D-Fredonia, voted "no" on the final resolution as amended.