All I know about the sales tax increase for St. Lawrence County is what I read in the newspapers and that is a very muddled picture indeed (article in the Watertown Times, Sunday, June 23).
First of all, you report that the increase in sales tax revenue will permit next year the biggest property tax cut in county history, even though, as you say, this year saw the biggest property tax increase in history. The result is for the two years together, a very large tax increase. I had thought that only in Washington was a decrease in the increase of expenses a real decrease, but I see that that falsehood has spread to the north country as well. In addition, the article says that this sales tax increase will be paid for by college students, tourists, Canadians and others, rather than by county residents. As one of those county residents, that is very comforting to know. But I know that is not correct and could not be what the article wanted to say.
Why is it that nobody ever talks about reducing expenses? We only hear about more taxes so that we can spend more. Considering the last few years, nothing particularly big has changed for the county. We are the same size, the same people, have the same problems and issues. What has changed that we must increase tax revenues so much? I wish you would talk about that more often. I can tell you one thing, give me a few weeks and all the facts and figures, and I could judiciously cut county expenses by 15 percent.
Richard D. Whitehead