Suffolk’s tax on heat is ridiculous; Romaine vows to revisit if elected exec



Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches) has for years railed against Suffolk County’s 2.5% sales tax on home heating oil, which also applies to natural gas and electricity.

That was mostly when he was a county legislator. Now he’s running for Suffolk County executive in November, with Steve Bellone (D-West Babylon) being termed out after 12 years.

(He’s also atop a local ticket that could see the Legislature retain its Republican majority, which it captured in 2021 for the first time in over 15 years.)

So, if elected, will he put his money where his mouth has been?

He’s vowing to try, despite a financial storm coming after the county’s COVID relief money has dried up.

“If I can get rid of this tax, I am willing to take a serious look at that, because I know who is hurt the most: those with limited incomes,” he said. “This is something that should not be done. We don’t tax grocery items for that reason; food items can’t be taxed. They can ‘t tax you for an orange or a head of lettuce.”

Because humans need food to survive.

As it turns out, we live in the Northeast, and humans here also need heated homes to survive.

“People need this,” Romaine said. “We’re in a climate that gets cold in the winter, we need hot water for our dishes. Why are you taxing basic necessities?”

Nassau doesn’t tax its residents to heat and electrify their homes and somehow the government operates. (Whether it operates efficiently is a story for another day.)

Still, lawmakers in Nassau tried to follow Suffolk’s lead. In June 2009, the Democrat-controlled Nassau Legislature approved a 2.5 percent sales tax on home heating oil, natural gas, electricity propane and firewood by a 10-9 vote.

Nassau residents hated it, would be a very simple and fair assessment.

Republicans pounced that election season — on this and other issues — and in November they gained a legislative majority. The tax was repealed that December, 13-5, with five Democrats joining their Republican counterparts after hearing the outcry.

Yet there’s no outcry in Suffolk over ridiculous things like slapping a sales tax on survival needs.

Meanwhile, the cost of going about our daily lives climbs seemingly daily. Just take the highly questionable school bus camera tickets people have been getting. (“But it’s all about safety,” Romaine scoffed.)

Over time, we seem to get used to it all, like that frog in the pot of water being brought to boil — because it happens slowly.

Romaine warns, this county has for years wanted to “grab us by the ankles, turn us all upside down and raid us of what’s left in our pockets.” The trend desperately needs to be reversed.

Repealing the heating and electricity tax is a good place to start.

Photo: Ed Romaine (R) in Hauppauge. Credit: Facebook