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Sales Tax Vote May Be Taken Up during State Legislature Special Session

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – State Senator Dale Volker says chances are good that state lawmakers will take up the Erie County sales tax measure at tomorrow's special session.

State lawmakers head to Albany Wednesday to vote on bolstering two of the state's crime penalties. But Erie County Executive Joel Giambra has asked Governor Pataki to add the sales tax vote to the agenda. And Senator Volker says he has good reason to believe the Governor will do that.

"It's totally different than what we will be going to Albany for, but I think he probably will," said Volker. "We've urged the leaders to try to get the Governor to do it because January is going to be a very busy time, with just about everything we're doing at this special session, because I don't think there's going to be any agreement at this special session."

Volker expects debate over the crime measures will probably spill over into January. But he says there is no need for the sales tax vote to wait. Still, Volker says an early vote wouldn't mean Erie County could start collecting the extra half penny earlier than January 15th.

"We can't move it to January 1st, without a whole new bill and the county legislature coming back and doing a home rule, and that's not going to happen," said Volker. "But I do think the likelihood is that it will be put on the agenda and that both houses will pass it."

The county executive had hoped to recoup about $2 million that was estimated would be lost due to the two week delayed collection. But Volker says there is still an advantage to an earlier vote. Businesses would have more time to gear up for the new eight and three quarters percent sales tax rate.