Sales tax revenue continues to lag, but Capital Region counties faring better than many

Impressions window decorations on Broadway in Saratoga Springs on Wednesday, November 25, 2020.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Impressions window decorations on Broadway in Saratoga Springs on Wednesday, November 25, 2020.

Categories: -The Daily Gazette, Business, News

ALBANY — Wide fluctuations continue in sales tax collections, an important source of funds for state and local governments struggling to meet their expenses during a health crisis that started in March and a fiscal crisis that immediately followed.

Despite the shutdown of many parts of the economy earlier this year, sales tax collections for the first 11 months in 2020 are only a few percentage points lower in most Capital Region counties than during the same period in 2019.

Nearby Mohawk Valley counties, meanwhile, are actually running a few points ahead of last year.

The state Comptroller’s Office released November sales tax collection statistics Wednesday. The Capital Region (down 3.6% in November and down 4.8% year to date) fared better than the state as a whole (down 7.1% in November and down 10.1% year to date, due in large part to restrictions in New York City).

In a news release, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli noted the cumulative impact of continued decreases.

“Sales tax collections are a crucial revenue source for our counties and other municipalities,” he said. “November’s decline reinforces the need for significant aid from the federal government as COVID-19 infection rates increase and more restrictions curb economic activity. Federal aid will keep first responders on the job and help implement the delivery of the vaccine.”

There are exceptions here and there from one month to the next.

In November, for example, Schenectady County posted the largest increase in the state: 16.0% more than November 2019.

But one-month numbers for individual counties often reflect unique circumstances or one-time accounting actions rather than a trend.

In October, Schenectady County posted one of the largest decreases in the state, 11.5%, and in September it enjoyed one of the larger increases: 21.9%.

In the first 11 months of 2020, $91.9 million in sales tax has been collected in Schenectady County, down from $94.9 million in the same period of 2019.

Here are the percentage changes in sales tax collection for 2020 year to date (left) and for November 2020 only (right), as compared with 2019:

  • Albany County -8.4% YTD, -9.1% Nov.
  • Fulton County +2.3%, -5.7%
  • Montgomery County +4.2%, -5.6%
  • Rensselaer County -1.8%, -4.9%
  • Saratoga County -3.3%, -3.3%
  • Schenectady County, -3.1%, +16.0%
  • Schoharie County +2.5%, -7.3%
  • Capital Region -4.8%, -3.6%
  • Mohawk Valley -0.8%, -6.1%
  • New York state -10.1%, -7.1%

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