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AUBURN | The first step toward adopting a local use tax on motor vehicles passed through two Cayuga County Legislature committees on Tuesday.

The local tax, first discussed during a Ways and Means Committee meeting in November, would apply a $10 local fee per vehicle every two years — likely coinciding with vehicle registration.

A local law is required to enact such a tax, and thus a public hearing must be held before legislators can vote on it. A resolution to set a date for the local law passed through both the Government Operations and Planning committees without discussion Tuesday night. 

When discussing the tax at the November Ways and Means Committee meeting, County Administrator Suzanne Sinclair said the tax could bring an additional $200,000 to $300,000 in revenue to the county.

Sinclair added that 38 out of 50 counties in New York have a similar tax. Onondaga, Oswego, Cortland and Tompkins counties have similar taxes. 

Trailers and tractors would not be taxed under the new policy. 

The resolution to set the public hearing will next go to the Ways and Means committee before being voted on by the full Legislature. 

In other news: 

• Congressman-elect John Katko, R-Camillus, made a surprise stop into the Government Operations committee meeting. He said he was in the county office building interviewing a candidate to be in charge of the his Cayuga County office.

"I want to let you know that we're very much committed to making sure you get proper attention in Cayuga County," Katko said, also asking the Legislature to let him know of any issues in the county. 

"Rest assured we'll be here a lot more than we'll be in Washington," Katko said. 

• The Legislature is considering a measure that would open a reserve fund for economic development.

The fund would use revenue from Oneida gambling distributions. The state gives Cayuga County about $435,000 a year from the gambling funds, according to the wording of the resolution.

Under the proposal, up to $350,000 of that annual income would go to the Cayuga Economic Development Agency each year. The Legislature would decide during the budget process exactly how much. The rest would remain in as reserve funds for economic development projects. 

The resolution passed unopposed through the Planning Committee and goes next to a vote at the Ways and Means Committee. 

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Staff writer Ryan Deffenbaugh can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or Ryan.Deffenbaugh@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @Citizen_Deff. 

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