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Counties follow NYS in capping sales tax on gasoline

Mike Mozart

Onondaga and Oswego counties are following the state’s lead by suspending some of the sales taxes it collects on every gallon of gasoline sold.

Onondaga County lawmakers voted 14-1, in a quickly put together virtual meeting last week, to install a cap on taxes collected from gasoline and diesel fuel sold in Onondaga County.

The move means the county can only collect taxes up to $3.00 for every gallon sold, which would, for example, save a driver four cents a gallon if gas is priced at $4.00 a gallon. Legislator Brian May said it sends a message to central New Yorkers struggling with inflationary pressures that include high gas prices.

"We’re telling the residents that we get it. These are tough times. With a three-dollar cap, it provides meaningful tax relief,” May said.

The only no vote came from Legislator Mary Kuhn, noting environmental and social concerns, as well as the timing.

"Right now the state is reducing the tax, the feds are releasing oil from the federal reserve,” said Kuhn. “I don’t know why the county, when we are one of the poorest areas in the country maybe, that we are jumping on with this unless it is an overtly political move.”

Officials say the county can absorb the loss of revenue in its budget, putting it at $4 million if gas stays at an average of $4.25 a gallon. The county is offering the city of Syracuse the chance to opt out of the plan, covering any lost revenue that could occur.

Oswego County lawmakers last week also voted to cap the local share of sales taxes on gasoline sales. In a unanimous vote, lawmakers voted to cap the county tax at $4 per gallon. As part of the state budget that was passed earlier this month, state lawmakers agreed to temporarily remove 16 cents a gallon in state gas taxes starting in June.

The county relief also begins June 1 and lasts through November.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.