Thursday, May 17, 2007

Running The Numbers

If you want to get a feel for just how out of whack Oneida County's sales tax is take a look at this report from the State Comptroller. Just as a heads up, since I know some computers choke on the damn things, it's a PDF file.

If you're a stat geek you'll find all kinds of interesting tidbits, including the actual dollar figures showing how dependent local municipalities have become on sales tax revenues to meet basic budgeting needs. Oneida County is particularly vulnerable to this trend because so much of the real estate is owned by the government or non-profit groups, making it tax exempt. That means property taxes have to jump by huge percentages to produce the kind of income our bloated government is demanding.

One radical idea did cross my mind while reading the report. None of the proposed economic revitalization programs of recent years, including Bruno's vague "Upstate Now" idea from earlier this week, would provide nearly as much benefit as removing the state's share of the sales tax altogether. That generates about $51 million in revenue annually, a relative pittance compared to Oneida County's share of Bruno's proposed $3.7 billion dollar program. I know it's never going to happen, but it would be an interesting economic experiment to see what would happen if the state just waived it's 4% for five years.