Assemblyman Greg Ball, R-Carmel, made some waves at the Capitol today by voting against legislation — and being very vociferous about it — to increase Putnam County’s portion of the sales tax from 3.5 percent to 4 percent (bringing the total sales tax to 8.375 percent). He is criticizing Assemblywoman Sandra Galef, D-Ossining, Westchester County, whose district includes half of Putnam, and Sen. Vincent Leibell, R-Patterson, for their support of the sales tax measure. Putnam County officials requested the sales tax bump to offset an increase in property taxes.
To read Ball’s news release, titled “BALL STANDS AGAINST THE MACHINE, DEMANDS TAX RELIEF,” click here.
FOR RELEASE: IMMEDIATELY
CONTACT: Rob DiFrancesco (845) 225-5038
June 21, 2007
BALL STANDS AGAINST THE MACHINE, DEMANDS TAX RELIEF
Continues Demand for a Property Tax Freeze
And Line-by-Line Accounting of Putnam County Budget
Assemblyman Greg Ball (R Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Carmel) is adamant against raising taxes on Putnam County residents who are already overburdened with some of the highest taxes in the nation. In fact, since coming into office in January, Ball has kept his promise to his constituency by voting dozens of times, against every bill, that proposes tax increases, saving the people of Putnam and across the state nearly $1 billion in tax hikes.
Today, Ball voted once again to protect the taxpayers in Putnam by voting down a measure to give Putnam County government the authority to raise taxes. Conversely, State Senator Vincent Leibell is expected to vote in support of this tax increase before the end of this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Legislative Session. Assemblywoman Sandra Galef voted in support of the tax increase today.
Over the last decade, Senator Leibell has voted nearly 300 times to increase taxes Ã¢â‚¬â€œ costing New Yorkers practically $15 billion in increased taxes, not including the ramifications of this recent tax increase proposal. LeibellÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s votes have raised sales taxes in nearly every county across the state Ã¢â‚¬â€œ including his prior vote two years ago to raise the Putnam County sales tax. This last sales tax hike was also supported by Assemblywoman Galef with her vote of approval.
In May, Ball and Putnam County Legislator Vincent Tamagna co-hosted a budget forum to get public input on the Putnam County ExecutiveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s planned tax increases. The public, Ball and Tamagna arrived at over 50 new ideas on how to save millions of taxpayer dollars. Leibell chose not to attend the meeting, yet in prior conversations with Ball, the Senator suggested he would not support a sales tax increase. The SenatorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s opposition to the tax increases was also repeated in recent conversations. However, it appears that the Senator has flip-flopped his position by bringing the measure to Albany for approval.
Putnam County Executive Bob Bondi has stated to the press that this measure, now supported by Leibell and Galef, would not only raise PutnamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sales tax again, but would also cost homeowners at least another 20 to 30 percent increase on their property tax bill. Bondi has also publicly stated that this projected minimum increase could easily grow this year alone.
Amid controversy in the press regarding the AssemblymanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s refusal to authorize tax raises in Putnam County, Ball commented, Ã¢â‚¬Å“skyrocketing and unnecessary tax hikes are driving people out of our state. The cost of government and government spending needs to be reined in. This County Executive is hiding millions of dollars of waste and abuse in a $120 billion budget and refuses to rein in spending. This sales tax increase just approved by Bondi, Leibell and Galef, also includes an estimated 30 percent increase in property taxes. This is unconscionable.Ã¢â‚¬?
The Assemblyman continued, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The County Executive has given us two options Ã¢â‚¬â€œ to either increase taxes or increase taxes. The cost of government spending needs to be reined in. I voted against this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s State Budget proposals because they added billions of dollars in excessive spending and that is why I am not supporting Bob BondiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Ëœchicken littleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ arithmetic. There are plenty of ways to lower the cost of BondiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s county budget proposal and if Leibell had stuck to his word, and not buckled to the pressure, we could have forced Bondi to the table to consider alternatives to tax increases.Ã¢â‚¬?
Ball added, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am deeply disappointed that Ã¢â‚¬ËœClub PutnamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ has decided to shove a 30 percent tax increase down the throats of Putnam taxpayers, as well as a sales tax hike down the throats of local seniors and small businesses. There was a third option: cut government spending. This option was ignored.Ã¢â‚¬? Before, during and since the May 5 budget forum, the County Executive has refused to consider any cuts to his budget proposal.
Ball continues to demand an independent and forensic audit of the countyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s finances to include line-by-line accounting of the Putnam County Budget to include Putnam National Golf Course, Tilly Foster Farm and other questionable and expensive proposals hidden deep in the countyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s budget. These include a number of high-paying patronage jobs and pay raises for high-level county employees, who are already among some of the highest paid government employees in the state. BondiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s budget proposal also includes public funding for employee cars and expense accounts.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I ran on a platform to fight tax increases as a deeply personal mission. Taxes are not the solution, they are the problem, and this County Executive needs to grapple with the reality that people have simply had enough. This County Executive would rather scare seniors and scare low-level workers into a frenzy, than have a serious discussion Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and, unfortunately, Galef and Leibell have joined the circus. It is a disgrace that they are calling this a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœbid for tax reliefÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ when it will raise both the sales and property taxes throughout the county,Ã¢â‚¬? concluded Ball.
The state legislation to grant Putnam County the authority to raise sales and property taxes was passed today by the Assembly by an unofficial vote of 80-39. Ball was the only area legislator to vote against the bill.