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Fri., Oct. 9
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St. Lawrence County’s increased sales tax kicks in today


St. Lawrence County’s sales tax increase takes effect today.

And it starts quietly and without much controversy for businesses that will add another percentage point to what was the county’s 3-percent sales tax.

The total state and county sales tax as of today is 8 percent. That additional percentage point is expected to generate an additional $13 million in sales tax revenues for the county in 2014.

There appeared to be no mad dash to make significant purchases before today, Christmas shopping season’s unofficial beginning on Black Friday notwithstanding.

“People haven’t really mentioned it,” said Jesse Jandreau, a sales representative at T J Toyota Inc., Potsdam, adding that there was no spike in automobile sales in the weeks leading up to today.

“It’s been about normal,” Mr. Jandreau said.

William J. Coakley, owner of Coakley Ace Hardware, Canton, said the increased sales tax impact is “psychological” in that it puts St. Lawrence County in the company of other 8 percent sales tax counties.

“It takes away the advantage that we had,” he said.

Derek P. Bradley, manager of Northwoods Furniture, Ogdensburg, saw no pre-sales tax increase bump at his store.

“I really haven’t seen any increase in the number of people coming in,” he said.

Mr. Bradley said he expected no spike in pre-Dec. 1 because the 1 percent savings - $7 on a $700 sofa, for example - was hardly a steal.

Like Mr. Jandreau, Michael B. Sarkin, president of Maple City Auto Sales Inc., Ogdensburg, experienced no bargain-hunting customer deluge.

“I haven’t heard anything yet,” he said.

But Mr. Sarkin predicts a post-Dec. 1 rumbling.

“I think everybody is going to be complaining about it,” he said.

He also believes a warmer weather starting date would have generated more sales.

“That’s our prime time, spring,” Mr. Sarkin said.

Businesses will prepare for the changeover by manually re-adjusting or computer re-programming their cash registers to record the new sales tax.

“You re-program the computer,” said Stephen C. LaRose, president and chief executive officer of Howland Pump & Supply, Ogdensburg. Howland Pump operates eight other stores, including locations in Potsdam, Malone, Massena and Gouverneur. “It’s no big deal.”

Incidentally, Mr. LaRose is no fan of the county’s sales tax increase or any sales tax increase.

“I’d have preferred no increase,” he said. “Hopefully, the money will be well spent.”

And Mr. LaRose took advantage of today’s deadline.

“I bought a truck last week to save on 1 percent,” he said.

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