New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers is eager to find out what’s to become of budget-busting bonanza of sales tax dollars in the county. Rogers asked about this when legislator Eve Walter attended a village meeting on April 27; Walter stands out as one of the very few legislators who takes the time to meet publicly with elected leaders in their districts.
How sales tax is shared in Ulster County has long been contentious. State law allows for city and county laws to create local sales taxes. In Ulster, there’s no Kingston tax because there’s an agreement between county and city officials to guarantee that 11.5% of that local share ends up in the Kingston treasury. As part of that understanding, another three percent of that money is shared proportionally among the 23 town and village governments. Leaders of those municipalities, who have no say under the law, have long considered that split to be unfair. It’s often been raised in New Paltz in recent years by leaders who see this community as being an economic engine based on the sales tax data, and complain about having to pay for related services almost entirely from property tax instead. Lobbying from mayors and supervisors led to a 2020 county resolution, under which if the sales tax exceeded the amount budgeted, then the county executive and Kingston mayor would meet by May 1 to discuss sharing that excess among towns and villages. Remarkably, sales tax in 2021 came in at more than $21 million over the budgeted amount, triggering that resolution; municipal leaders in the county would like to see 25% of that sum distributed to their governments.
While Walter signaled a willingness to raise this during the next budget cycle, the resolution calls for Mayor Steve Noble and Pat Ryan, the county executive, to confer no later than May 1. On April 29, Ryan confirmed that such a discussion already had taken place, and that an announcement would be forthcoming. While the county executive did not provide advance details, Ryan suggested that focusing on addressing the housing crisis should be a priority for these funds.