State budget proposal eliminates aid to offset unpaid taxes in Madison, Oneida counties

Published: Tuesday, February 01, 2011, 6:11 PM Updated: Tuesday, February 01, 2011, 6:17 PM

Officials in Madison and Oneida counties said they wouldn’t have been shocked to see a cut in the state funding they have received each year to offset shortfalls in unpaid property and sales tax revenues from land owned by the Oneida Indian Nation.

But they were more than surprised when the pair of $1.96 million payments were completely missing from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed spending plan Tuesday.

“Without any discussion, any explanation, any plan, it was entirely eliminated,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente. “That’s a big hole for us, a huge hit.”

The payments were instituted in 2005 to provide interim assistance for revenue losses related to Indian land claims. In recent years, the funding has declined in proportion with other state funding cuts, county officials said.

Madison County Board of Supervisors Chairman John Becker said the continued non-collection of taxes makes less sense given the state’s financial health.

“If they collected the sales tax and property tax in the first place, we wouldn’t have to worry about it,” said Becker. If such taxes were paid, Madison County would receive an estimated $6 million a year from properties held by the Oneida Indian Nation , which has claimed sovereign immunity.

Picente said the cut would add $2 million to his county’s tax levy, eliminating any benefit from the state’s proposed property tax cap.

“What we really need is reform, not rhetoric,” he said.

plus the county losses all the cig and gas sales taxes