Taxing times ahead in N.Y.
ALBANY, N.Y. - Tucked into a homeland security provision of New York Gov. George PatakiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s proposed 2004 budget is a provision that would create a three percent surcharge on protective and detective services.
At press time, whether that surcharge would also apply to alarm systems was still open for interpretation. A spokesman for the New York State Division of the Budget declined to go on the record to answer the question.
According to John Morrow, president of the New York Burglar & Fire Alarm Association, very few people had even heard about the proposed surcharge.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have only had one call concerning this, and it was for clarification,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have enough information at present.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The homeland security provision, under which the security surcharge is found, also includes a proposal that would add a four percent surcharge to tickets for sporting events. The money raised from these two sources is expected to be about $39 million, according to Kenneth Brown, spokesman for the stateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s budget office.
That $39 million will not be added to the stateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s general fund, but will be used specifically for homeland security measures, Brown said. In all, Pataki has asked that more than $155 million in state funds be dedicated to homeland security initiatives for the fiscal year, which begins on April 1.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This modest charge will ensure that there is a separate and dedicated funding source to support critical public safety and security activities, such as public security, E-911 and the statewide wireless network,Ã¢â‚¬Â Brown said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The bottom line is that this measure will help ensure that funds are available to help ensure the safety of all New Yorkers.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Brown also pointed out in addition to the charges, there are a number of tax breaks included in PatakiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s proposed budget, which will be phased in over the next two years.
Dale Eller, executive director of the NYBFAA, said the associationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s legislative committee had only begun to investigate the ramifications of the proposal.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pretty vague as it stands right now,Ã¢â‚¬Â Eller said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The information weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen is pretty broad-brushed, so who knows to what it is?Ã¢â‚¬Â
If the surcharge does in fact apply to alarm systems, Eller said he would not be surprised.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Municipalities everywhere are struggling,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I guess this just means maybe weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re next up to bat.Ã¢â‚¬Â
PatakiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s budget proposal includes more than $1 billion in new or increased fees, surcharges and assessments. These are aimed at closing an expected $5.1 deficit for the next fiscal year.