Sales tax sluggish in Orleans, many upstate counties in first half 2015

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 July 2015 at 12:00 am

ALBION – Sales tax revenues are down the first half of 2015 in Orleans County, compared to the first six months of 2014, according to data from the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance.

The sales tax revenues for the county fell from $7,741,593 to $7,626,595. That is a 1.47 percent or $113,998 drop.

Of the 57 counties outside New York City, 33 have collected less in sales tax so far in 2015, compared to the first half of 2014, according to the New York State Association of Counties.

The sales tax dollars give a snapshot of the local economy, and the sales tax also is a source of revenue for local governments. The more sales tax, the less reliance on property taxes to fund local services.

The latest numbers show that much of the state is struggling to break out of the prolonged economic recession that started in 2008, NYSAC said.

The data shows that many counties have a drop in sales tax revenue in both the first and second quarters this year.

“The explanation for the first quarter’s numbers was pegged to bad winter weather, dropping fuel prices, a west coast port shutdown, negative US GDP for the first quarter and a strong dollar,” said Stephen J. Acquario, executive director for NYSAC. “There was no bounce back, but there was also no explanation for the continued lethargy.”

Orleans County officials budgeted for no increase in sales tax in 2015. The county has budgeted $13,785,000 in sales tax revenues this year. In addition, another $1,366,671 from the local share goes to towns and villages in the county.

The state sales tax collections are up 3.72 percent, from $5.94 billion to $6.16 billion, for the first half of 2015. New York City is seeing growth in sales tax, a 2.74 percent increase from $3.31 billion to $3.40 billion.

Steuben County has the biggest increase, 8.77 percent, while Schoharie is down the most at 6.11 percent.