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Oct 3, 2012 11:08 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Village Wants To Be Exempted From Payroll Tax

Oct 3, 2012 12:39 PM

Westhampton Beach Village is petitioning Albany to be exempted from the Metropolitan Community Transportation Mobility Tax, known as the MTA payroll tax, even though the State Supreme Court ruled in August that the tax is unconstitutional.

Implemented in 2009, the payroll tax requires that municipalities and school districts pay a 0.34-percent tax on its gross payroll, regardless of whether or not employees utilize public transportation provided by the MTA, including the Long Island Rail Road. The village, according to a press release issued this week, has paid between $13,000 and $17,000 per year over the past three years, money that was used by the MTA to fill a large budget gap. The village is not seeking a refund of those fees, according to Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller.

On September 24, the village filed a petition with the New York State Mandate Relief Council—an agency formed last year to help with unfunded and underfunded mandates imposed on municipalities and school districts dealing with the new tax levy cap—to be exempt from the payroll tax in the event that the MTA appeals the ruling and wins.

“Any monetary relief from the State of New York would be an act of God, I think,” Mr. Teller said on Wednesday. “For us, this tax represents a lot of money.”

As part of the petition, the village is asking the Mandate Relief Council to review the payroll tax and decide whether it is an “unfunded mandate, unsound, unduly burdensome or costly” and if it should be eliminated or reformed if it is reinstated. The village trustees voted in favor of the petition at their September 6 meeting.

“I am hopeful the Mandate Relief Council will give our request serious consideration,” Deputy Mayor Hank Tucker is quoted as saying in the press release. “It is important to use the government tools available to us on the local level.”

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