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Counties Concerned Over Sales Tax Revenue Reports

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The New York State Association of Counties is concerned about sales tax revenue reports indicating negative growth in the second quarter.

The association reports that overall, second quarter sales tax revenue numbers increased across New York. But it also finds that on average, the percentage of growth per county in the second quarter compared to last year was 1.6 percent. The average growth per county for the first six months of 2013 was about 1.8 percent. The association also says 80 percent of the sales tax increase is coming from the four counties most impacted by Hurricane Sandy, concluding that the increases are driven by spending on recovery. The association further reports that 20 counties saw negative sales tax growth in the second quarter of 2013 compared to 2012. The New York State Association of Counties Executive Director Stephen Acquario.

Collection of sales tax revenues varies from county to county. Steuben County Administrator Mark Alger, President-elect of the Association, says his county has seen a 3-to-3 and a half percent decline this year over last year. He calls that a reflection of the economy across New York’s Southern Tier.

Warren County saw an increase in sales tax revenues in the first quarter this year of  7 and a half percent. The second quarter was down 6-tenths of a percent due to adjustments in prior filings, according to Supervisor Fred Monroe.  He expected strong revenues to continue due to strong tourism spending in Lake George.

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Monthly Comparison of Net Collections shows the state sales tax up 8.5 percent this June over last June and local sales taxes up 7.4 percent. Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Frank Mauro says the counties are indicating a need for watchful waiting.

Economist Hugh Johnson says consumer spending picked up a bit in the first quarter and then receded some in the second quarter.

Counties project their sales tax revenue as they develop their annual budgets. If revenues do not meet projections, officials may have to consider mid-year cuts. 

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