If lawmakers are called back to Albany this year, they likely won’t be asked to consider Ulster County’s sales-tax rate, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signaled Thursday.
The state Assembly left the Capitol last month without taking action on a bill that would keep Ulster’s sales-tax share at 4 percent, with Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, and Ulster County Executive Mike Hein blaming each other for the impasse.
When asked about the bill during a stop Thursday in Newburgh, Orange County, Cuomo said the lack of legislative action handcuffs him.
“It didn’t pass,” Cuomo told reporters. “I can’t sign a bill that didn’t pass.”
Ulster’s sales-tax rate will drop to 3 percent after November unless the Legislature takes up the bill in a yet-to-be-called special session. State law caps counties’ sales tax at 3 percent, but more than 50 counties seek and receive exemptions every two years.
The state’s sales tax is an additional 4 percent.
Cuomo, however, said he only plans to call a special session if the federal government does not approve assistance grants for homeowners in the Mohawk Valley and western New York who were hit with flooding in recent weeks.
When asked whether the Ulster County bill could be added to a potential session’s agenda, Cuomo said the focus would remain on flooding victims.
“If I call a special session, it will be for emergency relief for counties in this state that are going through some very difficult times right now,” Cuomo said.
Hein has blasted Cahill for the lack of action on the bill, which has been passed every two years since 1993. Cahill had sought to have the county pick up the cost of elections, which is currently taken on by municipal governments in the county, but said Hein was unwilling to negotiate.
The additional percentage point brings in about $22 million in annual revenue for Ulster, according to Hein.