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Groups say MTA tax, gas prices too much


Poughkeepsie, NY – The cost of doing business, or even getting to your business, is growing each day. As WAMC's Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Greg Fry reports, a collaboration of business organizations joined together Wednesday morning to try and stop the negative momentum...

The complaints are common - taxes are too high, and the costs associated with operating a business are too high. It's a discussion that comes up in frequent meetings held by pro-business organizations, and it's why representatives of organizations in Dutchess County, New York stood side-by-side Wednesday morning in Poughkeepsie.

One very touchy subject among business leaders in portions of the Hudson Valley is the MTA payroll tax, used to funnel funds into the operations of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Chambers of Commerce in the Hudson Valley, including the Dutchess Chamber, have joined the mounting call for an independent forensic audit of the Authority's operations. It's just one of the factors that business officials say is playing into the decisions business make.

John MacEnroe heads the Dutchess County Economic Development Corporation. He says there's no one coming to him right now giving a specific reason for moving a business out of Dutchess County. However, MacEnroe chalks it up to that generic phrase - "the cost of doing business."

MacEnroe's organization, along with the County Association of Realtors, has also joined in the fight against the MTA tax. Business leaders also spoke out about the problem facing anyone on the road these days - gasoline prices over four dollars.

Chamber President Charlie North was asked what he'd like to see happen regarding the price at the pump. He went on to say that it's the responsibility of elected officials to find some way.

As for businesses not looking to move, well, they're feeling the pinch, too. Gaye Mallet is the Director of Human Resources for Adams Fairacre Farms, a market with three Hudson Valley locations. The company employs over 750 employees, and expects that number to climb to a thousand after opening a fourth location. However, the company, while trying to grow, has also slowed down its hiring of full-time employees. Mallet says they're trying to use more part-time people, and says they're likely not alone.

The latest unemployment numbers released Tuesday by the New York State Department of Labor put the unemployment rate under eight percent in the Poughkeepsie area, compared to a nearly ten percent unemployment rate in Sullivan County - the highest in the region.