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Sales tax revenues fall in many counties, including Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 April 2015 at 12:00 am

Orleans and several other counties in New York have falling sales tax revenues for the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same time in 2014, the New York Association of Counties is reporting.

The sales tax money is a critical source of revenue that pays for services and eases pressure on property taxes.

There are 62 counties in the state and 33 collected less in sales tax in the first quarter of 2015 compared to 2014. Of these counties, 12 saw their collections drop by more than 5 percent. Orleans County had a tiny drop. It went from $3,617,157 to $3,614,715 in the first quarter.

Outside of New York City, the average change per county was -0.9 percent, NYSAC reported. New York City had an increase of 1.2 percent in sales tax revenue.

Overall, the state sales tax collections were up from $2.87 billion to $2.95 billion. However, the counties’ share was a much smaller increase, from $1,714,967,327 to $1,718,676,745.

It is not clear what the reason for the sharp drop off for some counties, but there are two major factors that may be contributing to these numbers, said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario. He cited the harsh winter and gasoline prices that were 32 percent lower in the first quarter of 2015 compared to 2014.

“Sale tax collections are an important economic indicator,” Acquario said. “These taxes have a direct relationship to consumer confidence and the general direction of the economy measured during a certain period of time. As property taxes remain flat across the state, sales taxes are even more important to local governments trying to continue essential governmental services. This quarterly distribution continues to demonstrate volatility and uneven collections across the state.”