Repeal of 4% Energy Tax Brings Some Relief

MONTICELLO – Sullivan County legislators last week made note of the State-approved December 1 repeal of the 4% Energy Tax, instituted during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when County finances faced a potentially perilous future.

“We created the tax amidst unknown times,” explained Legislature Chair Robert A. Doherty. “As soon as we confirmed the County was in a better financial position, we took it off taxpayers’ backs.”

“It’s unfortunate we had to create the tax,” acknowledged District 5 Legislator George Conklin, chair of the Legislature’s Management & Budget Committee, “but let’s also recognize that it’s not too often government removes a tax.”

“I’m pleased we repealed it for the benefit of our residents, especially during this time of escalating inflation,” said District 2 Legislator Nadia Rajsz. “This will alleviate a financial burden on our taxpayers. While small, every little bit counts.”

The Energy Tax itself has been levied on commercial properties in Sullivan County since 1975 and will remain so. Any charge for electricity and various heating fuels is subject to a 4% surcharge remitted to the County.

Residential properties had long been exempted. However, on July 23, 2020, the Legislature unanimously removed that residential exemption, effective Sept. 1, 2020, in order to prepare for anticipated fiscal impacts related to the pandemic. When those impacts ultimately did not fully materialize, legislators on August 19, 2021, unanimously agreed to reinstate the residential exemption, effective December 1, 2021 (as early as the State would allow).

“We do not relish raising taxes, which is why we built in a March 2023 ‘sunset’ when this particular tax would end,” noted Legislature Vice Chair Michael Brooks. “Thanks to an improved fiscal outlook, we were able to repeal it in advance.”

“Our financial position improved, for which I’m thankful, and in turn that means we can eliminate a tax on home energy costs at a time when prices are otherwise rising,” stated District 9 Legislator Alan Sorensen.

“We ended it 15 months ahead of time,” added District 4 Legislator Nicholas Salomone. “In essence, it’s a 4% relief for taxpayers.”

“Although the Energy Tax was helpful during very uncertain times,” stated District 8 Legislator Ira Steingart, “I’m excited to say it’s been repealed in order to give everyone a break.”

“I received many phone calls from people who said they could not afford it, so I’m very happy to see it go,” remarked District 6 Legislator Luis Alvarez.

“I’m one of those taxpayers who’s happy this tax has ended. Usually we’re having to deal with the creation or hike of a tax, so I’m really glad to have been a part of ending a burden on taxpayers,” affirmed District 7 Legislator Joe Perrello.

Sullivan County Treasurer Nancy Buck noted that bills with the Energy Tax applied may still arrive in local mailboxes in coming weeks, as any charges generated in November remain subject to the tax.

“But I’m thrilled the Legislature agreed to end this tax more than a year ahead of time,” she added. “It’s very gratifying that County finances have turned around.”

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