Delgado and county treasurer say counties need federal support

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ONLINE — Representative Antonio Delgado joined a Sullivan County virtual town hall on May 11 to talk about his recent activities in Washington D.C. to help support local governments in his district. House leadership is pushing the Heroes Act, which would provide funding to state and local governments to help pay for a dramatic reduction in tax revenues and some of the enormous costs of managing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Part of the Heroes Act legislation is the Direct Support for Communities act, which was introduced by Delgado, a Democrat, Lee Zelden, a Republican member of the House, and Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Delgado said, “Our local governments here at home have managed our COVID-19 response and have done so while confronted with a shrinking tax base. Day in and day out, they have provided critical services to our communities throughout upstate, and the federal government cannot leave them behind. That’s why I am pleased to see the formula devised in my Direct Support for Communities Act included in the Heroes Act. The formula, which has both bipartisan and bicameral support, will ensure that every county, city, town and village in the country receives federal funding, regardless of size. These needed funds will support those providing essential services, from public health, to law enforcement, to firefighters, to teachers and beyond.”

So far, Republican leaders in the Senate, and President Donald Trump, have said it’s too early for more stimulus spending; it’s not clear if that will change anytime soon. But it is clear at least one local Republican thinks municipalities need federal help.

Treasurer Nancy Buck spoke at the virtual town hall and said that one sales tax payment representing March and the beginning of April and the amount was off 30 percent from last year. Buck said there are seven more months this year; if all the payments are off by that much, it could mean a $7 million dollar shortfall in funding this year just in sales tax.

She said other sources of revenue are also going to be less this year. Each year, the state gives aid to municipalities. Buck said, “This year, the governor said it could be 20 percent less, it could be 50 percent less. If Sullivan County took a 20 percent decrease in state aid, that’s $4.7 million... I don’t know where we’re going to come out of this. “

She also said property owners owe $23 million in unpaid property taxes. “Let me tell you, I’ve been to work every day and the phones ring off the hook because people can’t pay their taxes.”

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