Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining)
for Initiating County-Wide Green Legislation
The Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) unanimously approved an Act last week to amend the Westchester County Sales and Compensating Use Tax to exempt the sale and installation of commercial solar energy systems equipment from existing county sales tax. The vote for approval took place at the BOL’s regular meeting. Passage of the new Act began when
a longtime advocate of alternative energy and green businesses,
Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining), posed the legislation in the BOL’s Environment & Energy Committee, of which she is a member. The BOL approved a similar Act in May 2011 exempting installation of residential solar equipment from county sales taxes, a landmark law that was later passed and signed into law in New York State by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“The best way to support solar-based business is to make installations more economically viable,” said Borgia, chair of the BOL Government Operations Committee. “Having accomplished this for county residents, it made perfect sense to extend this financial benefit to county business owners and commercial enterprises as well. This legislation meets three goals: it supports the county’s green economy and creates new jobs, provides opportunities for Westchester businesses to see long-term savings on energy costs, and reduces greenhouse gases caused during the production of electricity.”
The BOL had amended the County’s Sales and Compensating Use Tax Law in 2007 to provide a tax break for residents installing residential solar energy systems, but the provision expired in November 2009, thus necessitating the 2011 Act as such. The approval, which still requires the County Executive’s signature, will mean the tax break will be in place for all new solar installations in Westchester.
“Westchester County should be leading the way in regard to so many environmental issues, and this is yet another step in the right direction,” said Legislator Judy Myers (D-Larchmont), chair of the BOL Budget & Appropriations Committee. “Plus, providing further tax relief opportunities is always a good idea.”
While the projected annual cost of the program is estimated to be about $40,000 per year in lost sales tax to the County, the average savings to each participating Westchester business will be over $1000.
“The economic benefits to small businesses that produce and install these systems, and the green jobs that will likely be created, are only two of the many benefits that are sure to come as a result of this tax-saving initiative,” said BOL Majority Leader Harckham (D-North Salem). “In addition, participating business owners will be contributing to a cleaner environment.”
Last year, the BOL also unanimously approved new legislation,also spearheaded by Legislator Borgia, to streamline the process for home and building owners to install solar energy systems by relieving solar panel and solar heating installers and contractors from needing to obtain a Westchester County home improvement license before doing work in the county.