Financial details from the first quarter of this year indicate the recession-based drop in sales tax revenue may be slowing, according to Schoharie County Treasurer William Cherry.
Cherry this week reported a total of $2,998,414 in sales tax was received the first three months of this year, reflecting a 1.5 percent increase over the first quarter of 2009 when the county collected $2,954,160.
The increase, however, isn’t a major boost because the county is budgeting for $12.5 million in sales tax this year compared with earlier days when sales tax revenues reached nearly $14 million.
“It’s going to take us some time for sales tax revenues to creep back up. We’ve stopped the bleeding but county government needs to learn how to live with $1.5 million less in revenue,” Cherry said.
The county’s Board of Supervisors adopted a $72 million budget for this year, which required cutting about $846,000 in spending compared with the year before.
A new stream of revenue, which went into effect Nov. 1, 2009, is making an impact on revenues as well, albeit a small one.
Schoharie County last year enacted a new occupancy tax, which adds a 4 percent charge to hotel, motel and other lodging facility bills.The tax, collected on 27 establishments, has garnered $13,547 from the $351,167 in net taxable income of these establishments since Nov. 1, 2009.
Cherry said one economic indicator of the financial health of property owners — outstanding taxes — still shows people are having difficulties.Typically, there is between $3.2 and $3.4 million in unpaid property taxes. The county pays villages and school districts their share of unpaid property taxes.
“That’s been pretty steady for many years right up until the last 18 months or so,” Cherry said.
“As of today, it’s about $8.2 million. There has been a huge spike in accounts receivable,” he said.
“What that shows is people are just not able to pay their taxes like they used to be,” Cherry said.
The fluctuating gasoline prices have caused a fluctuation in the county’s Gas Tax Reserve Fund created in 2006 as well.
The county has been directing sales tax collected on the portion of gasoline sales exceeding a $2 per-gallon threshold.
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Categories: Schenectady County