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County Legislature Passes Sales Tax Home Rule Message

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – The Erie County Legislature Thursday approved sending a home rule message to Albany, requesting the state extend the extra one percent sales tax. But the vote came only after much debate over eventually sharing the extra penny with Buffalo.

At issue was a recently adopted "legislative intent" bill from the state. The bill says state lawmakers support the idea of sharing the penny at some point in the future - if it's approved by the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority. But County Executive Joel Giambra told the county legislature late yesterday he didn't want his name associated with that bill. Majority Leader Lynn Marinelli says they conceded to his request only to secure the extra revenue.

"I very much and will always respect the office of the county executive, but I gotta' to tell you, it's a bit diminished when he can't put in language that says he concurs too, especially when he has a seat on the Fiscal Stability Board," said Marinelli.

The control board is already looking at whether or not the county should share the extra penny with the city. And Marinelli says county Democrats will also soon be calling for a task force to look at a future sharing plan.

If approved again by the state, the extra one percent tax brings in roughly $119 million. But county lawmakers weren't sure how state lawmakers might react to the language change in their home rule request.