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Lewis lawmakers reject proposed county wireless surcharge

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LOWVILLE — While reiterating their desire for a sales tax hike to fund a pair of capital projects, Lewis County legislators on Tuesday decided not to seek permission to impose a county surcharge on wireless customers.

Lawmakers voted 6-2 against requesting state home rule legislation to add roughly 30 cents per month to county customers’ wireless bills, with only Chairman Michael A. Tabolt, R-Croghan, and Legislator John O. Boyd, D-New Bremen, in favor. Legislators Charles R. Fanning, R-Copenhagen, and Jerry H. King, R-West Leyden, were absent.

“We couldn’t do much with it,” Legislator Jack T. Bush, R-Brantingham, said after learning the surcharge would only add about $15,000 annually to county coffers.

While Mr. Tabolt floated the idea of earmarking the funding toward the county’s proposed multi-million emergency radio upgrade project, most lawmakers suggested the relatively small payback would not be worth putting an additional burden on wireless customers.

Legislators did vote 8-0 on resolutions to urge passage of a pair of proposed state bills, one allowing the county to extend a 2004 increase in local sales tax rate from 3 percent to 3.75 percent for another two years and another to approve a new, 0.25 percent rate hike that would raise the local rate to 4 percent. The tax is collected along with the state’s 4 percent tax.

Lawmakers in early May requested state permission for the extension and additional hike, and state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, and Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River, have both introduced such enabling legislation.

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