Recently, after input from local businesses led by representatives of the Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce, The Carmel/Kent Chamber of Commerce and the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce, the Town of Carmel decided to reconsider a proposal that would have enacted a sign ordinance that many feel would have severely hampered commerce in the town. This was a great example of community involvement in government. Hopefully each town will begin seeking the business communities input when considering new policies that have an economic impact.
At the hearing, a comment was made that Putnam’s towns don’t receive a share of sales tax revenue from the county. However, the towns do receive many financial benefits from the county sales tax. While it may be worthwhile to consider an apportionment policy in the future, there are many factors which would impact any proposed changes and Towns, villages and school districts would need to be able to assume some heavy financial burdens in order to do so. For example, in 2014 Putnam County was responsible for $3.2 million dollars in community college costs, close to $18 million in payments to the towns, villages and school districts to cover property tax defaults (the county guarantees that local budgets will be made whole in the event of nonpayment by taxpayers), and an unknown amount of expenses to fulfill its mandated obligation under the “Help America Vote” Act.
Other factors include “IMA” agreements which assists town in services such as assisting local highway departments in times of need, Medicaid costs, WIC, the Workforce Board, Putnam Tourism, the EDC and IDA, and veterans’ services. These are extremely important considerations which would have to be addressed before the county could give these dollars up. It’s worth noting that the current sales tax distribution has allowed the County as well as most of the Towns and Villages to achieve the 2% tax cap limit. That has allowed “bonuses” from New York State to individuals and the municipalities.
Putnam County’s government partners with the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce on all matters which will impact the business community. It is imperative that our towns begin the same practice before enacting legislation, to achieve the best outcome for all involved. The business community did a great job ensuring this process will begin in the Town of Carmel.
– Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce