Folks in Stafford, N.Y., can expect a tax increase thanks to a veto of a new law by the governor that would have allowed the fire department there to start up its annual raffle of a classic Corvette again.
We told you a few months ago that the state had shut down the raffle because someone complained that the Stafford Fire Department was accepting credit and debit cards for online purchases of tickets. Never mind that the department had been raffling off used cars since World War II to pay for department improvements like trucks, construction of the fire house, purchase of land for soccer fields, and save the town’s post office.
They had to send back the money for raffle tickets they had already sold.
In June, though, the state legislature stepped in with what everyone thought would be a reasonable solution to the problem, passing the Charitable Gaming Act so that all non-profit or charity organizations could keep selling raffle tickets.
In a strong bi-partisan showing, the new law passed 59-3 in the state Senate, 136-8 in the Assembly.
However, Gov. Cuomo vetoed the bill last week, saying that his lawyers believe the law violates the state constitution. He says online raffles are illegal because people can buy tickets even if they live in a community in New York that doesn’t want gambling. Never mind that 95 percent of the raffle tickets sold by Stafford were bought by people outside New York.
“Obviously, if we can help charities with raffles we will, but the legal opinion is it’s unconstitutional the way it was written,” Cuomo said. “So next year, we’ll sit down to see if we can find a way to do it legally.”
In the meantime, though, Stanley Gere, Stafford Fire Department trustee, says the veto is “like a second sucker punch right in the gut.”
He says the ruling is “a real hardship” for the fire department, and residents will likely see a tax increase because of it.
Without the extra funds from the raffle, Gere says the projected fire tax increase is 300 percent.
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