The Capital Region mirrored the rest of the state with about half its counties seeing a dip in sales tax receipts in the first quarter of the year.
The dismal quarter has the New York State Association of Counties worried, since taxes collected on the sale of goods and services is one of only two major revenue streams for counties.
“Counties rely on two forms of revenue: sales taxes and property taxes,” said NYSAC President Anthony J. Picente Jr. in a news release. “We are not raising property taxes. When our sales tax revenues are flat or decline, we have to pay attention.”
By the numbers
Half of the six Capital Region counties saw sales tax revenue decline in the first quarter of 2015.
County 2015 2014 % change
Albany $61.3M $60M +2.2%
Fulton $4.3M $4.28M +0.4%
Montgomery $6.1M $6.6M -8.3%
Saratoga $25.6M $25.4M +0.9%
Schenectady $22.5M $22.9M -1.7%
Schoharie $3.1M $3.4M -10.6%
Statewide, 33 counties collected less in sales tax for the first three months of the year compared with the same period a year ago. Of those, a dozen saw collections drop by more than 5 percent. Outside of New York City, the average change was a drop of 0.9 percent.
The reason for the sharp drop isn’t entirely clear, but county officials say cold, snowy weather and low gasoline prices in the first quarter likely contributed.
“Sales tax collections are an important economic indicator,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario in the release. “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.”
In the Capital Region, only Albany, Fulton and Saratoga counties saw an increase in receipts, a weak start to 2015 after annual collections were up across the entire region in 2014. Schenectady, Montgomery and Schoharie counties kicked off the first quarter of the year with weaker sales tax collections than the same quarter last year.