Canton zoning board to host public hearings

Canton Municipal Building. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

CANTON — Following the January passage of local resolutions opposing any change in county sales tax distribution, the town of Canton has not joined the village and other county groups in opposition of any changes.

Town Supervisor Mary Ann Ashley shared a similar resolution with town council at its regular meeting last week, opposing any change to sales tax apportionment from the county to local municipalities.

“I’ve been saying it from the beginning, since the negotiations started,” Ms. Ashley said. “We can’t afford to lose any revenue.”

Ms. Ashley moved to pass a resolution, though the motion did not receive support from council members and did not move forward.

“Any change will devastate the town of Canton municipal budget, resulting in significant local tax increases, possible personnel layoffs and cancellation of nonessential programs,” the resolution reads in part.

Council member Tim Danehy expressed concern over the proposal, arguing the resolution is “premature” and that the town has more to learn about the sales tax apportionment formula and whether it will remain the same with new 2020 data, or the formula itself will change.

“My concern with the resolution is I don’t know what ‘no change’ means,” Mr. Danehy said, adding that a change could “improve” or potentially increase Canton’s portion of the sales tax distribution.

Potsdam village trustees on Jan. 20 and Canton village trustees on Jan. 21 each voted unanimously to pass resolutions against any change, and a similar resolution was passed by the St. Lawrence County Association of Town Supervisors and the county Association of Mayors on Dec. 5. Massena village trustees did not pass a resolution last month, as they wanted to look further into potential changes.

The formula for distributing sales tax revenue across the county is set for a 10-year period in line with collected census data. Negotiations are ongoing between Ogdensburg and the county, as towns and villages do not have negotiating power on the apportionment.

“Essentially what we’re doing is sort of treading water until we see what comes out of Albany,” county Legislative Chairman Joseph R. Lightfoot said this week.

The original deadline for a negotiated agreement was set for the end of November 2020, though the county has been in touch with the state comptroller’s office, which has expressed to the county that they have “a considerable amount of flexibility” for reaching an agreement, Mr. Lightfoot said.

A small group from Ogdensburg, including the mayor, city manager and a council member met with a five-member committee from the county legislature last week, and Mr. Lightfoot said another session will hopefully be scheduled within the next few weeks.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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