Washington County officials are considering asking their state representatives to introduce legislation allowing them to increase the mortgage tax in order to help support SUNY Adirondack.
The Washington County Board of Supervisors’ Finance Committee recently approved sending a resolution to the full board that would increase the current 1 percent mortgage tax by 0.25 percentage point.
Argyle Supervisor Robert Henke, a member of the committee, said county officials have been talking about raising the tax for awhile, with the goal of securing a more stable revenue stream for the community college.
Washington County struggles with its portion of funding for the community college because it also has to pay for students who live in Washington County but attend community colleges other than SUNY Adirondack — a practice known as charge backs.
“It’s a moving target,” Henke said.
A lot of the county’s students attend Hudson Valley Community College because of its technology programs, Henke said.
“Frankly, it’s a little bit closer trip for people in the southern part of the county,” he said. “They can hop on Route 40 and go.”
Henke added he believes SUNY Adirondack’s dormitory has made a difference in retaining people locally.
The mortgage tax proposal would provide some relief for property taxes, according to Henke. He believes the county was slightly below average in its mortgage tax rate, so he doesn’t think the increase will have a huge impact on home sales.
Washington County provides nearly $1.38 million in funding for the college’s $28.5 million budget. Warren County’s contribution is $1.85 million.
“We’ve got a commitment to support our college and support our kids,” Henke said.
The full Board of Supervisors is expected to take up the matter in January. If it approves the measure, it still must obtain approval from the state Legislature. Henke said there hasn’t been a lot of success in getting “home rule” legislation passed in Albany.
Dan MacEntee, a spokesman for State Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, said she would introduce the legislation.