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Angelo Santabarbara urges energy tax relief

Legislation that could save Schenectady County residents on home heating costs this winter has been drafted but has yet to make it to the floor of the county Legislature for a vote.

The legislation, introduced by Angelo Santabarbara, R-Duanesburg, would exempt all energy products from the 4 percent county sales tax.

Santabarbara said he has received several letters from residents who say the rising cost of home heating fuel is affecting their ability to spend money on other necessities.

Even though I heat with gas, I support the elimination of the county sales tax on home heating fuel, said Richard Kramer, of Glenville, in a letter to Santabarbara. "We are taxed enough and this is not a luxury; it is a necessity in our climate, and it is regressive to tax those in the lower income brackets."

If the tax is eliminated, Santabarbara said residents would save 40 cents for every $5 spent on home heating fuel and electricity.

Schenectady County is one of 15 counties in the state that tax residential sales of coal, fuel, oil, wood, gasoline, propane, electricity and steam, according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance. Schenectady is the only county in the Capital District that taxes home heating fuel and electricity.

"They are asking for relief," Santabarbara said. "We can't let them down on this."

He said it is not fair in this type of climate to tax home heating fuel because it is a necessity akin to food, some of which is not taxable.

"Instead of saying we're going to reduce taxes, let's start with this," Santabarbara said.

"As one who is self-employed, performing carpentry and home repair services, I have watched the decline in homeowner discretionary spending as the costs of necessities have escalated at unprecedented levels," said Delanson resident William Wenzel. "On the local level I strongly support cutting taxes and spending."

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