NEW ROCHELLE, NY — If you were to pick up the Journal News, tune in to WVOX Radio or watch News12 you would come away believing that Westchester County Executive George Latimer had proposed a 1% sales tax increase for Westchester County and a number of municipalities in the county.
And who could blame you? Newspaper headlines, television news readers and talk show pundits are all screaming, over and over, about a 1% tax increase so it must be true.
Basic math suggests otherwise.
Latimer has proposed raising the current county sales tax from 7 3/8% to 8 3/8%.
That proposed increase is on a current tax rate of 7.375%, therefore:
1 / 7.375 = 0.1356 or 14%
In his official statement issued on February 14th, Latimer refers to the change only as an “additional 1% in sales tax”. This is accurate.
In his press conference the same day, Latimer does not use either term at all. To his credit, Latimer has not, to our knowledge, inaccurately characterized the proposed change in the sales tax rate as a “1% increase”.
The same cannot be said of five elected officials quoted in Latimer’s official statement:
- Village of Tuckahoe Mayor Steve Ecklond said “I support County Executive Latimer’s proposal for the 1% County sales tax increase.”
- Somers Town Supervisor Rick Morrissey said “Westchester County’s proposal to increase the sales tax by 1% is a feasible alternative…”
- Dobbs Ferry Mayor Bob McLoughlin said: “Latimer’s request for a 1% sales tax increase” and “this 1% sales tax increase would..”
- Mayor of the City of Rye Josh Cohn said “this 1% sales tax increase will help provide…”
- Irvington Mayor Brian C. Smith said “his proposed 1% sales tax increase…”
Media outlets across Westchester have actively championed Latimer’s plan along the same lines, invariably referring to a “1% tax increase”:
- LoHud: Westchester wants a 1 percent sales tax increase
- News12: Latimer calls for 1 percent sales tax increase
- WestEx: Latimer Proposes 1% Hike in County Sales Tax
- DailyVoice: Latimer Calls For Slight Sales Tax Increase
- WPCNR: Latimer Calls for 1% Increase in Sales Tax To Balance Budgets
- Fios1News: Latimer asks Cuomo to add Westchester sales tax increase to state budget
- WCBS880: Westchester Exec: Property Tax Will Stay Flat If Sales Tax Goes Up
On WVOX 1460 AM Radio this morning, Good Morning Westchester host Bob Marrone discussed the Latimer plan, repeatedly referring to a “1% sales tax increase”. Marrone responded to our criticism on Facebook after the broadcast and plans on addressing the issue on Friday.
Other than Talk of the Sound, we found only one accurate media account, not surprisingly from Tony Aiello at WCBS2-TV.
Either every employee at every media outlet in Westchester County flunked basic math or they are shilling for Latimer by not reporting that the actual sales tax increase proposed by the County Executive is 1,400% times higher than they claim.
UPDATE: George Latimer has responded to this article on Twitter.