Legislation that could save Schenectady County residents on home heating costs this winter has been drafted but has yet to make it to the floor of the county Legislature for a vote.
The legislation, introduced by Angelo Santabarbara, R-Duanesburg, would exempt all energy products from the 4 percent county sales tax.
Santabarbara said he has received several letters from residents who say the rising cost of home heating fuel is affecting their ability to spend money on other necessities.
Even though I heat with gas, I support the elimination of the county sales tax on home heating fuel, said Richard Kramer, of Glenville, in a letter to Santabarbara. `We are taxed enough and this is not a luxury; it is a necessity in our climate, and it is regressive to tax those in the lower income brackets.`
If the tax is eliminated, Santabarbara said residents would save 40 cents for every $5 spent on home heating fuel and electricity.
Schenectady County is one of 15 counties in the state that tax residential sales of coal, fuel, oil, wood, gasoline, propane, electricity and steam, according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance. Schenectady is the only county in the Capital District that taxes home heating fuel and electricity.
`They are asking for relief,` Santabarbara said. `We can’t let them down on this.`
He said it is not fair in this type of climate to tax home heating fuel because it is a necessity akin to food, some of which is not taxable.
`Instead of saying we’re going to reduce taxes, let’s start with this,` Santabarbara said.
`As one who is self-employed, performing carpentry and home repair services, I have watched the decline in homeowner discretionary spending as the costs of necessities have escalated at unprecedented levels,` said Delanson resident William Wenzel. `On the local level I strongly support cutting taxes and spending.`
According to wording in the legislation, `Few items are as essential to daily life, our economy, and the health and well-being of our citizens as energy products.`
Santabarbara said the elimination of the energy sales tax should not come at the expense of other county taxes. He said the county should rework its spending to accommodate the loss of revenue without increasing other taxes.
`Any decrease in revenue experienced by the county as a result of this exemption, must be offset by the county manager with across the board reductions in equal revenue amounts from all county agencies,` according to the drafted legislation.
Legislator Robert Farley, R-Glenville, said he supports Santabarbara’s legislation, saying party affiliation should not be an issue in passing this legislation.
`Even the governor came out yesterday and said we have to reduce the cost of heating,` Farley said.“