State Assembly candidate Nancy Bargar (D-Lakewood) has called for a cap on Chautauqua County sales tax at 7.5 percent. Bargar asked her opponent, Andy Goodell, to pledge to hold the line on the county sales tax as well.
"The knee-jerk response to budget shortfalls cannot always be to increase taxes. Like the families we represent we must learn to cut what we no longer can afford," Bargar said.
Bargar responded to what she called, "the implied intent of county officials to ask our next representative in the Assembly to carry legislation raising the tax to 8.25 percent."
Bargar said she opposes a sales tax increase and she would hold the line at 7.5 percent.
"Last June, Chautauqua County was put on notice that the sales tax would drop from 7.75 to 7.5 percent in January 2011," said Bargar. "Last year, instead of cutting expenses, the county enacted an election year budget that created a current-year deficit of $21 million. Now, the election year chickens have come home to roost. The proposed budget is balanced by one shot revenues and higher taxes - emblematic of a reluctance by the county to cut costs. The Executive and the Legislature had 18 months and two budgets to adjust their spending, but failed to do so."
Bargar also noted that the County Executive is calling for a sales tax increase to 8.25 percent next year.
"Businesses and taxpayers don't want and cannot afford more taxes," said Bargar. "Shoppers will cross the state line to buy and smart business owners are more and more often threatening to leave the state. The county must first look to reductions in expenditures before asking taxpayers to dig deeper.
"County officials must learn to make the hard decisions necessary to protect our taxpayers from ever increasing bills.
"I want county officials to know up front that I will oppose a sales tax increase raising taxes ought to be the last resort," said Bargar.