Mayor Steve Noble said this week that he expected a new sales tax revenue-sharing agreement between Kingston and Ulster County to be in place before a June 30 deadline. Noble said that he had already reached an “agreement in principle” with County Executive Mike Hein on the plan, but the proposal still needs approval from the State Comptroller’s Office.
At issue since the beginning of the year is how to divide some $109 million in annual revenue from the county’s 4 percent sales tax. A five-year agreement between Kingston and Ulster County expired on March 1. That formula gave the county 85.5 percent of the total and the city 11.5 percent. The remaining 3 percent was shared among Ulster County’s 20 towns. Earlier this year, some county lawmakers suggested the new agreement should return to an earlier distribution formula which gave the city 10 percent of the total and the towns 2 percent. Hein did not take a public position on the dispute, but has criticized Kingston officials for allegedly failing to pass on to taxpayers savings passed on the county’s assumption of Safety Net welfare costs previously borne by municipalities. Noble, with backing from officials in at least 10 towns, has called for a new five-year agreement with the same 85.5/11.5/3 percent split.
Last month, Noble said that he had reached a tentative agreement with Hein on the issue. On Tuesday, April 19 he reported that all county/city issues had been resolved but the agreement still needed approval up in Albany. Noble said that he and Hein were in talks with the comptroller’s office regarding language in the agreement.
“They’re focused on making sure, from the language in the agreement, that they know who to send the check to.”
Noble declined to discuss details of the agreement, saying that he and Hein planned to introduce it jointly once it got approved. When asked whether he had stuck to his initial insistence on a new five-year agreement at current funding levels, Noble replied; “When you have a compromise, no one’s ever completely happy, but you reach a place where you realize it is in everyone’s best interests.”