Sales tax is down in Orleans so far this year

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 October 2016 at 6:10 pm
Photo by Tom Rivers: The Cobblestone Museum was open last Sunday for an antique quilt and textile show.

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Cobblestone Museum was open last Sunday for an antique quilt and textile show.

ALBION – Sales tax collections through the first nine months of the year are off last year’s pace by about 2 percent. When you’re talking more than $11 million, that 1.89 percent difference means $220,080 less for the county government.

The county relies on sales tax to maintain services and ease pressure from raising the property tax.

Orleans isn’t alone in seeing a sale tax drop through the first three quarters of the year. Genesee’s sales tax revenue is down 2.24 percent so far this year, a drop of $639,509 to $27,886,429, according to data from the New York Association of Counties. (Orleans sales tax revenue for the first three quarters adds up to $11,441,534.)

Of the 62 counties (including the five boroughs of New York City), 22 are experiencing declines so far this year with the average decrease 1.8 percent.

“These latest sales tax numbers continue what we have been seeing for the last few years – very uneven sales tax collections,” said Stephen J. Acquario, NYSAC’s executive director. “There appears to be no clear pattern, but downstate is faring better than most regions as well as a few other better performing parts of the state.”

The 40 counties seeing gains are up by an average 2.9 percent, according to NYSAC. New York State’s sales tax share is up 2.8 percent or by $264.1 million to $9.707 billion.

Orleans has the seventh-largest decline as a percentage. Those with higher losses include: Genesee, -2.24 percent; Chemung, -2.63 percent; Hamilton, -4.08 percent; Herkimer, -4.35 percent; Cattaraugus, -4.52 percent; and Washington, -4.96 percent.

There is still another quarter left for sales tax. The holiday shopping season boosts the numbers in the final quarter.

County officials in the statewide organization are fretting about the numbers so far this year.

“Sales tax continues to be a critical revenue source for counties,” said William E. Cherry, NYSAC president and Schoharie County treasurer. “It is an offset to property taxes. Strong sales tax revenues can reduce our reliance on property taxes. That is why we remain concerned about these trends that have unfolded since the beginning of the Great Recession.”

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