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Proposed ride-hailing surcharge could benefit Centro, make NY tax highest in U.S.

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News File Photo
An Uber official and the head of the Syracuse Hospitality and Tourism Association take one of the first Uber rides in central New York in 2017.

The State Assembly is proposing an additional statewide surcharge on ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft in its spending plan. The funds collected would be used on transportation services.

Uber Senior Policy Manager Joshua Gold said his company opposes the $1 surcharge, which would be in addition to the four percent tax New Yorkers currently pay. That extra dollar would raise upstate’s taxes to 12 percent on the average $13 Uber ride. 

“It’s by far the highest in the country," Gold said. "It’s higher than New York City riders currently pay. It’s an unfortunate proposal by the Assembly. I think, especially upstate New Yorkers, are tired of paying more taxes.”

But central New York Democratic Assemblyman Al Stirpe said the extra tax would provide money to organizations like Centro, which struggle to continue services in certain areas.  

“It’s a pretty good compromise, at this point, because there just aren’t any other revenue streams,” Stirpe said. “We have to find something that is sustainable, so every year we’re not there begging for an extra few million dollars, so Centro doesn’t have to cut another route here or there.”

A $2.75 surcharge would be applied to parts of Manhattan. The taxes are opposed by Republicans in the state Senate. The budget is due by the end of the month.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.