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Sales tax legislation for St. Lawrence County passes Assembly

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Home-rule legislation that would allow St. Lawrence County to raise its sales tax passed the state Assembly on Thursday but remained in committee in the Senate.

“I hope the senators are able to bring this to a vote,” Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, said moments after the legislation cleared her chamber.

A final vote count was not available, but Mrs. Russell said the measure was approved by at least 80 members. Nay votes numbered about 40. The approval was close, Mrs. Russell said, as passage required 76 votes.

St. Lawrence County Legislative Chairman Jonathan S. Putney, D-Waddington, said he was pleased the legislation had passed the Assembly.

“I’m excited we’re going to have a chance to have some property tax relief,” he said.

Mr. Putney said the county’s lobbyist, the Wladis Law Firm, has been in touch with the county’s senators.

“We’ve been told it’s moving forward,” he said.

The county has long wanted to raise its sales tax from 3 to 4 percent, which would bring the total — including the state’s 4 percent — to 8 percent.

State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, is a sponsor of the home-rule legislation in the Senate, where the bill was in the Investigations and Government Operations Committee.

“Sen. Ritchie is trying to get it done before the end of the session,” said her spokeswoman, Sarah V. Compo.

The legislative session is scheduled to end Thursday.

The Senate could take up the bill that was passed once it is delivered by the Assembly, Ms. Compo said.

The county believes an increase in sales tax is necessary for it to curtail a property tax hike.

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