Oswego County Legislature Chairman's Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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June 23, 2006

Legislature Agrees to Cap Sales Tax on Gas and Diesel Fuels

Members of the Oswego County Legislature reduced the tax burden on county residents at the June 15 meeting, when the legislature exempted gas and diesel fuel that costs more than $2 a gallon from the county sales tax. Customers should start seeing a savings of 2 to 4 cents a gallon at the gas pumps beginning July 1.

The resolution, which was approved by 23 of the 24 legislators present, is an additional tax cut for county residents.

The higher prices that we all pay in fuel costs have generated extra revenue for all levels of government. State legislation, introduced by Senator James Wright, caps the state sales tax and allows counties and cities to exempt a portion of their sales tax on gasoline and diesel fuel as well.

When I first approached my fellow legislators about this measure, many of them were apprehensive. They wanted a guarantee that we would still be able to cut property taxes next year. I assured them, and I assure you, that this Legislature is committed to cutting property taxes.

When putting together the 2006 budget, we conservatively estimated that the county would receive $23 million in sales tax revenue. About 12 percent of the county sales tax is derived from taxes on fuel and gasoline. The exemption on gas above $2 a gallon will amount to about $700,000 through the end of this year.

Many of the legislators who supported this resolution did so because it is an economic development tool. The savings on gas and diesel fuel will help families, industries, small businesses, and our farming community.

I want to note, however, that consumers who purchase gas in the cities of Oswego and Fulton won’t see the same reduction in prices because the county sales tax isn’t collected in the cities.

How will the sales tax exemption be enforced?

Owners are required to pass the savings on to the consumer. Consumers should be aware of what they’re paying and what other local stations are charging. Anyone can file a complaint with the state Consumer Protection Board if they think a service station operator is pocketing the extra savings. Owners can be fined $5,000 per incident per day if they are found guilty of price gouging.

Complaints forms are available on-line at www.consumer.state.ny.us or people may contact the Consumer Protection Board’s consumer assistance unit by phone at 1-800-697-1220.

Another issue raised by a legislator was whether it would be better to use the extra revenue to pay for new projects or additional purchases this year.

Why aren’t we doing that?

We have the opportunity to cut taxes. It only seems appropriate that we use this occasion to reduce the tax burden, rather than spend the money on a “wish list” of items.

Every little bit of savings that we can pass on to consumers – families, farms, businesses, and industries – helps our county and our economy. I am very proud of our legislators for providing an additional tax cut to the residents of Oswego County.

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