Area sales tax revenues show growth

Overall state figure also positive

Friday, August 9, 2013
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— Sales tax collection increases in Fulton, Montgomery and Saratoga counties helped drive a slight uptick in the Capital Region’s total sales tax collections for the first half of 2013, according to the state comptroller’s office.

Overall, the state’s revenue from sales tax grew 5.7 percent in the first half of 2013 compared with the same period in 2012.

The good news wasn’t universal — Schoharie County, for example, reported a 4 percent decrease and Schenectady County saw a slight drop.

At a glance

A look at the change in sales tax collections for the first half of 2013 compared with the same period of 2012:

Capital Region: +1.2 percent

Mohawk Valley: +1.4 percent

Southern Tier: -3.3 percent

Western New York: +3 percent

Mid-Hudson: +4.4 percent

Finger Lakes: +1.2 percent

Central New York: +2.3 percent

North Country: +1.1 percent

Long Island: +8.5 percent

New York City: +7.5 percent

Statewide: +5.7 percent

Source: State Comptroller’s Office

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli called the growth a promising sign, noting how vital this revenue is for local governments.

“Unfortunately, the economic improvement has been uneven and the trends are headed in the wrong direction for some of our most vulnerable municipalities,” he said in a statement. “Without positive growth during the second half of the year, many local budgets will be under increased pressure.”

In general, the growth in sales tax collection was slower upstate than downstate.

Collections grew by a little more than 1 percent in the Mohawk Valley and the Capital Region, while they increased by 8.5 percent in Long Island and 7.5 percent in New York City. “The overall pattern may indicate slowing growth in the upstate economy,” speculates the report.

The report also considers the impact of tropical storms Irene and Lee on sales tax figures in areas they hit.

After the storms, the report says, sales tax figures were inflated in early 2012, as people purchased large quantities of building materials. This could have contributed to a drop in 2013 in counties like Schoharie County, as spending returned to normal levels.

The county budgeted for sales tax revenue that would be comparable to what was collected last year.

In Schenectady County, where sales tax collections were down less than 1 percent for the first half of 2013, Commissioner of Finance Deb Mancini is optimistic they will reach their budgeted sales tax revenue for 2013.

Based on analysis of the first two quarters, she thinks the county is on target and isn’t worried about the slight deviation from last year.

The largest increase in sales tax collections in the Capital Region was in Montgomery County, which saw a year-to-date increase of slightly more than 3 percent.

Saratoga County’s collections were up almost 3 percent, and Fulton County’s collections were up about 1 percent.

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