In a reversal, numerous Republicans in the Suffolk County Legislature are poised to vote tomorrow, September 8th, to place on the ballot a measure that would raise Suffolk’s sales tax.
This is enormously disappointing because the Republican majority had for months successfully blocked this measure that will unnecessarily raise our sales tax once again to purportedly pay for new sewers, even though the county is sitting on a record $700 million in reserves due to federal stimulus programs during the pandemic.
We had thought that the Republicans were standing up for taxpayers in preventing this unnecessary increase in the sales tax when so much money was already available in the budget. It appears it was all a ruse just to push the referendum off until after Election Day.
We have written from the start that we support the construction of more sewers and cleaner cesspools. However, we were adamant that there’s no need to raise the sales tax once again to do it.
The federal pandemic funds were a one-shot revenue stream. Many legislators want to use this one-shot to pay for recurring operational salaries and projects. The municipal unions want to use these reserves for their contracts. Thus, they are pushing the sales tax increase to create extra revenue for the sewers so that the reserves will remain available for their wishes.
Yet, once you use these one-shots for recurring salaries or projects, you are creating instant deficits in the future years. This is why we have argued that the one-shot federal revenues should be used for building sewers since that is a one-shot expenditure. We thought the Republicans understood this and praised them for their previous efforts to prevent the sales tax increase. But as noted above, it appears it was all a political shell game, and tomorrow they are going to go into the tank and vote to push this sales tax increase proposal forward, thereby continuing the path of making Long Island unaffordable.
What a shame!