Massena taxes can be paid without penalty until July 22

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County leaders across New York joined together to renew their plea for federal lawmakers to pass a coronavirus relief bill to provide aid to state localities.

A bipartisan group of county executives across the state called on congressional leaders and the president in a press conference with the state Association of Counties on Thursday to compromise on a new federal stimulus package that provides funding for states and local governments, which provide essential services to combat the pandemic and reopen their local economies.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy and Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, both Democrats, and Republicans Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro and Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente agreed: The state’s success in its fight against COVID-19 has come at a steep cost — both in New York lives and finances.

The state projects a $13.3 billion shortfall this year, and roughly $61 billion over four years, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. New York City, alone, projects a $9 billion loss in revenues for March 2020 through June 2021. This projection does not address cuts in state reimbursement.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly warned of widespread 20 percent cuts to state health care, education and localities if New York does not receive federal funding.

Albany County lost roughly $15.5 million in sales tax revenue in the first half of 2020 compared to last year, McCoy said. The county expects a $30 million to $40 million budget deficit.

“It could be $50 million by the end of the year,” he said. “It all depends on what the third quarter brings.”

The county has $60 million in its reserve fund, County Comptroller Susan Rizzo said.

While the state’s 10 regions have completed reopening nonessential businesses, excluding gyms and movie theaters or indoor dining in New York City, industries continue to struggle with the sluggish economic restart. The county’s hotel occupancy rate is below 1 percent.

McCoy would request $30 million in federal funding for Albany County if he had a say on Congress’ legislation, he said, as county and local departments have been on the front lines in providing essential health and public services to combat COVID-19.

“Congress and the president are forcing our hands,” McCoy said. “They need to do what’s right and fair and prioritize smaller counties that have been on the front lines of the pandemic and have been left behind in the last four stimulus packages.”

Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said it is unclear what the county’s final budget deficit will be.

“If the governor executes his minimum 20 percent reduction in state aid, we would have a $3.5 million deficit,” Groden said. “The unknown factor is sales tax. We are only halfway through the year and the receipts on sales tax are beginning to fall — car sales are down, people aren’t eating out in restaurants, our tourism and hotel industries are down. People are afraid to go out or they don’t like the limitations like wearing masks — that will keep some people home.”

While the economy in New York is reopening, there are still uncertainties, Groden said.

“We don’t know how it will rebound — will we get back to where we were in February or March? We don’t know. I won’t know the potential deficit on sales tax at least through the summer, if not September,” Groden said.

Another factor that could impact sales tax revenue is the status of schools. Back-to-school shopping is typically a boon time for businesses, but if schools continue to operate remotely, that will likely impact sales of clothing, school supplies and the like, Groden said.

While the sales tax deficit is widening, expenses for the county are up, he added. Spending on personal protective equipment for county employees, as well as overtime for the Greene County Health Department, have created an unanticipated rise in expenses.

“The Health Department hasn’t had a day off since March 15,” Groden said. “They worked every holiday, so those staff members are being paid overtime and I don’t have that budgeted.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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