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County seeing gains in sales tax, bed tax so far in 2019

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 September 2019 at 8:28 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Medina’s downtown at Main Street and Center Street is pictured last week. The downtown has many independent small businesses that generate sales tax for the county.

Orleans County is seeing growth in its sales tax so far this year, the only one of the four GLOW counties ahead of the 2018 pace.

In Orleans, sales tax collections were at $8,409,045 the first six months of the year, up 2.5 percent from the $8,207,811 the first half of 2018, according to the State Comptroller’s Office.

Genesee County is down 0.2 percent to $19,686,969, while Livingston is off 0.8 percent to $16,498,246, and Wyoming County is down 2.1 percent to $8,642,926, according to the Comptroller’s Office.

State-wide sales tax grew 3.4 percent in the first quarter and 3.2 percent in the second quarter, the Comptroller reported.

Wages and consumer spending are growing at a modest pace. However, a decrease in gasoline prices in the first half of 2019 caused a drop in the portion of tax collections from the sale of motor fuels, the Comptroller’s Office said.

Kim DeFrank, Orleans County treasurer, said the actual cash receipts in sales tax is up about $300,000 for the first six months, from $7,532,315 in 2018 to $7,835,191.

Sales tax in Orleans County grew by 2.9 percent or $475,614 in 2018, from $16,273,192 to $16,748,806. (The county keeps about 92 percent of the sales tax and shares $1,366,671 with the four villages and 10 towns.)

This year the state has shifted some of the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities to the counties. The governor in his budget proposal proposed cutting $290,276 in AIM to eight towns and four villages in Orleans County. State-wide, the governor wanted to reduce AIM funding by $59 million.

But villages and towns strongly objected to cuts. After an outcry from towns and villages, Gov. Andrew Cuomo put the AIM funding back in the budget. However, it won’t be paid for by the state. It is to come from the sales tax from internet sales, which currently often skirt the sales tax. The tax would be taken from the counties’ local share and be directed to the AIM program.

The counties are to pay the AIM the second half this year. DeFrank said county officials haven’t received direction from the state about when to pay the money.

That $290,276 wipes out the increase in sales tax so far collected at the county.

The county budget for 2019 is counting on additional sales tax growth of $560,000. The sales tax increases have helped the county pay for infrastructure projects and also stay under the state-imposed tax cap, which is usually about 2 percent a year.

The county also is seeing growth in the occupancy or “bed tax,” a 4 percent tax for people who stay in hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and 62 rentals in the county through Airbnb.

The tax generated $19,807 for the county in the first six months of 2019, compared to $15,602 the first half of 2018, DeFrank said.

The tax last year generated $51,002, with $35,400 in the final three months. (In 2017, the bed tax generated $45,374.) The county uses the funds for tourism promotion.

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