County legislators heard initial proposals for how they could give consumers a break on gasoline sales tax.
County Attorney Stephen Abdella and County Finance Director Kitty Crow presented to the Administrative Services Committee on the proposals.
Abdella said while the state doesn’t allow counties to entirely suspend sales tax on motor fuel, Chautauqua County could suspend the 4-percent sales tax rate or a fixed amount per gallon rate such as 8-cents, 12-cents, or 16 cents a gallon.
He said if the county chooses a fixed-rate per gallon, there is a proviso by the state to adjust the fixed rate if the price of gasoline drops below what the sales tax percentage rate would be versus the fixed rate per gallon, “If we were to set a fixed rate of 16-cents which is roughly based on $4 a gallon, and when I say roughly it’s because if the price at the pump is $4 our tax is not on the full $4 because part of that $4 is a state and federal tax and our tax is not applied as a tax on a tax.”
He said at $4 a gallon for gas, the county receives 14.8 cents on a gallon and not 16-cents.
Crow recommended going with the fixed rate of $12-cents per gallon option as they estimate the county would still meet budget projections for sales tax, thus not hurting municipalities in their budgeted sales tax revenue figures, but still giving consumers a break on the cost of gas.
The Administrative Services committee opted not to create a resolution on the matter given that the Audit & Control Committee also will hear this presentation at its meeting at 8:35 a.m. on Thursday, April 21st.
Abdella said a resolution would need to be pre-filed by 10:00 a.m. this Friday in order to appear on the Legislature‘s voting agenda for April 27. He said an emergency resolution could be introduced on the floor next week as well.
The State is requiring resolutions on the gas tax issue 30 days in advance of them being implemented, versus the usual 90 days. The changes would not go into effect until the start of the next sales tax quarter, which is June 1st. The County Legislature must submit a resolution to the state by May 2nd in order to meet the June 1st implementation date.