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Sales tax receipts in Capital Region a mixed bag

Sales tax receipts in Capital Region a mixed bag

Schoharie County had the biggest drop in sales tax collections in New York in 2013, according to a r

Schoharie County had the biggest drop in sales tax collections in New York in 2013, according to a report released by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office.

Schoharie County’s sales tax collections decreased by 5 percent from 2012 to 2013. The only other county in the state that also had a 5 percent drop was Tioga County.

Schoharie County Treasurer William Cherry points to recovery efforts following Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011 for the spike in collections, followed by a decline in 2012 and 2013.

“Sales tax receipts indicate a sharp uptick in the last quarter of 2011, with almost $1 million more than normally collected,” Cherry said. “We brought sales tax up just over $15 million after Irene.”

But that upward trend did not continue as expected, he said. Sales tax collections were flat in 2012 and dropped to about $14 million last year. Cherry said the numbers took him by surprise.

“I am really hoping that it recovers to a certain extent,” he said. “This causes us to pause and wonder if our projections for 2014 are accurate or too optimistic. But we just don’t know yet.”

Collections in Schenectady County decreased by 0.6 percent in 2013. But Schenectady County spokesman Joe McQueen said even with the slight decrease collections were on target with Schenectady’s budget for 2013 and 2014.

Other counties in the Capital Region experienced growth in sales tax collections. Saratoga County collections grew by 2.7 percent and Fulton and Montgomery counties had a 3.2 percent increase.

The Capital Region as a whole had a 1.7 percent increase in sales tax collections in 2013, which lagged behind many other regions in the state.

Long Island had the biggest growth in collections, up 6.9 percent compared to 2012. The mid-Hudson Valley had a 4.2 percent increase, the Mohawk Valley’s grew by 2.4 percent and the Finger Lakes had 2 percent growth.

The only region in the state that had an overall decrease in sales tax collections was the Southern Tier, with a 2.3 percent decrease in collections compared to the previous year.

Statewide, local sales tax collections increased $739 million, or 5.2 percent, in 2013 to a total of $14.9 billion. A majority of growth occurred in downstate areas, according to the report. The average increase for downstate counties was 5.9 percent, and 1.7 percent for upstate counties.

“This is welcome news for our municipalities and comes at a time when local revenues have been experiencing little to no growth,” DiNapoli said in a news release. “The majority of the increase appears to stem from storm cleanup, which gives these communities a short-term boost.”

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