City, county leaders pledge to work together toward new sales tax allocation agreement
The complexities involved in sales tax distribution, especially as it is related to water usage and water treatment facilities, have prompted City of Batavia and Genesee County leaders to re-evaluate their path to reaching a new allocation agreement.
City Manager Jason Molino, speaking at Monday night's City Council meeting, said that "a lot of different complex issues are on the table" than there were 17 years ago when the sales tax allocation pact between the county and city originated.
"We're looking at how to approach this collectively," he said, in reference to a committee of city and county personnel that has been put together to carve out a new plan to replace the current one that expires in February 2018. "There are hundreds of millions of dollars involved here."
City Council, understanding that negotiations are ongoing, passed a resolution last night stating its intent to extend the sales tax agreement -- without modification -- with the county. Previously, Genesee County legislators voted to terminate the agreement in the event that talks on a new contract stalled.
As it stands now, the terms of the sales tax agreement provide the city with 16 percent of the sales tax generated in Genesee County, with the towns and villages splitting 34 percent (based on assessed valuation) and the county receiving 50 percent.
Molino has stated that the city's 16-percent share is more than it would receive if the sales tax/water treatment contracts weren't in place, adding that the city pays the county a surcharge of 60 cents per 1,000 gallons of water used and in return the county leases the water treatment plant from the city and reimburses the city for operational costs.
Additionally, the city buys water from the county (at a discounted rate) and the county sells water outside of the city. The revenue from the sale of water goes to pay for the infrastructure needed to distribute water to the towns.
The "oversight committee" is comprised of Molino and Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell; City Council members Eugene Jankowski and Kathleen Briggs; Genesee County legislators Raymond Cianfrini, Marianne Clattenburg and Robert Bausch; Bergen Town Supervisor Donald Cunningham, and Darien Town Supervisor David Hagelberger.
Meetings are scheduled over the next few weeks and progress reports will be given to the committee, Molino said.
This is good news to Council President Jankowski, who said Council is invoking "short deadlines (because) we're not going to let this go."
He also said he believes the team approach is the best way to proceed.
"It's important that there are concessions both ways, and that there is an understanding of each other's situation," he said.