Saratoga County

Saratoga County’s sales tax revenue up again

County sales tax revenue continues to rebound this year.


County sales tax revenue continues to rebound this year.

So far this year, revenue from the 3 percent county sales tax is up 9.2 percent, County Treasurer Samuel J. Pitcheralle said Monday.

He released September figures showing collections of $7.8 million — up 8.15 percent from last September.

That continues what has been an upward trend throughout 2010. So far this year, the sales tax has brought in $54.7 million, or 9.2 percent more than last year.

What is unknown is whether the retail sales that generate sales tax are actually up after dipping in 2009, or if the dip a year ago was based on erroneous data being used by the state, as county officials charged at the time.

The state Department of Taxation and Finance collects the money on behalf of the county as it collects the 4 percent state sales tax, and then pays the county each month.

But county officials said the state hasn’t explained to them how the payment amounts are determined; the state also routinely “adjusts” payments as new information from earlier tax periods becomes available.

The figures released Monday include estimated sales that large retailers like chain department stores made during the August tourism season, though a more complete picture will be available after small retailers make quarterly payments in October.

Tourism generates a large percentage of the county’s retail sales activity, but economic activity surrounding the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant in Malta is also starting to have an impact, said Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce.

He said he’s heard that GlobalFoundries-related activity is boosting construction and real estate, and vendors seeking to do business with the chip giant are spending on lodging and restaurants.

The $4.6 billion computer chip plant now under construction in Malta has more than 900 construction workers working on site, and restaurants in particular are noticing the impact. Meanwhile, GlobalFoundries has now hired or transferred about 200 permanent employees who are living in the region.

Their spending is also starting to contribute to the economy, Shimkus said.

The plant is due to open in 2012, with 1,200 to 1,400 employees. It will generate thousands of other jobs in support industries.

But at a county Economic Development Committee Monday, officials cautioned against expecting too much, too soon, from high-tech industries coming to the Capital Region.

High-tech hubs like Austin, Texas, or Hillsborough, Ore., took 30 years to develop, they noted.

“I worry about in the short term it not exceeding expectations,” said Supervisor John E. Lawler, R-Waterford.

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