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Sales tax revenue falls in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 January 2014 at 12:00 am

County is one of 14 in NY with negative numbers for 2013

State-wide sales tax revenue grew 5.24 percent in 2013, or by about $1.3 billion. But in 14 counties, including Orleans, sales tax dollars actually dropped last year, according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

Sales tax is one indicator of the economic health of a community. It also provides money to pay for government services.

In Orleans, the sales tax dipped by 0.56 percent or $82,873, falling from $14,902,778 to $14,819,904. Most of the Orleans sales tax goes to fund county government operations. The county shares about $1.3 million with the towns and villages.

County Treasurer Susan Heard said the county still has two sales tax checks coming in. She thinks the county will top the 2012 numbers by about $70,000 or $80,000.

The county needs more stores and more people to shop locally to boost the Orleans sales tax numbers, she said.

“We need more retail because the shopping pulls in the dollars,” she said. “If you’re trying to boost the numbers that’s the way to go.”

Orleans County’s neighbors all gained in sales tax last year. Genesee saw the biggest increase, jumping 4.49 percent or about $1.6 million. Niagara was up 3.21 percent, while Erie increased 2.66 percent. Monroe also saw an increase by 1.81 percent.

Downstate counties, including New York City, saw the biggest increases. The New York State Association of Counties credits that increase partly to rebuilding from the Sandy storm in 2012.

Most of the counties with sales tax decreases were in the Southern Tier or in northern New York. The following showed decreases, with the percentage decline: Broome, 4.58 percent; Chautauqua, 0.06; Chemung, 4.24; Clinton, 1.11; Jefferson, 1.62; Orleans, 0.56; Oswego, 0.82; Schenectady, 0.57; Schoharie, 5.00; Schuyler, 0.55; Steuben, 3.61; Sullivan, 0.69; Tioga, 4.96; and Wyoming, 0.98.

There were 27 counties (out of 62) that saw their fourth quarter numbers fall from the previous year.

“The fourth quarter sales tax collection, which includes holiday shopping, is a key indicator of our state and local economy,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario. “These numbers concern us. The uneven collections demonstrate the need for continued focus on economic development statewide.”

Orleans Hub shared some sales tax generating ideas in a Jan. 2 article. Click here to see that article.