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Cortlandt Government Leaders React To MTA Tax Ruling

CORTLANDT, N.Y. – Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi gave a one-word response to a Nassau County Supreme Court's finding that the MTA Payroll Tax was unconstitutional. 

"Good," Puglisi said. "We pay $50,000 a year in MTA tax. There needs to be a fair allotment from each community, each municipality. We feel $50,000 is exorbitant," she said. When asked what would be a fair amount for municipalities to pay, she said, "A lot less than $50,000." Puglisi said if there was more transparency in the MTA budget, she might feel more comfortable contributing to the public transportation agency.

The law was struck down Wednesday, a Supreme Court judge ruled that the law could only have been constitutionally enacted if it used an exemption in local government’s "home rule" control of their own municipalities. That exemption requires both houses of the state legislature to pass the law by two-thirds vote of approval; the tax was originally approved by simple majority.

Nassau, Westchester and Putnam counties, along with several towns and villages were plaintiffs in the suit.

The finding comes less than one year after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he would repeal the tax for small businesses, and would reimburse school districts for the total cost of the tax. School districts had to lay out cash up front, and later were reimbursed by the state.

The tax was applied at a rate of 34 cents for every $100 of payroll. After Cuomo's rollback, the tax was applied only to businesses with payroll over $1.75 million, to freelance or contract workers, and to municipalities.

Brian Monahan, interim superintendent of the Hendrick Hudson School District, said he views the unconstitutionality finding as a positive development, despite that no immediate changes will take place because of the judge's finding.

"The financial impact now is less," Monahan said, referring to the tax rollback for public school districts. "But there's obviously an administration cost to this, and it makes things more complicated to the running of the district, and all that costs money."

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