County sales tax up 4.4 percent

Oneida County saw a nearly 4.4 percent increase in sales tax revenue in the first quarter of 2012 from last year.

The county received $30,890,389 in the first three months of the year. That’s up from $29,594,528, an increase of $1,295,891, from the first quarter of 2011, according to figures from the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

This tally does not reflect the sales tax money that will be shared with 26 towns and 19 villages.

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said the first quarter numbers continue last year’s trend when sales tax collections exceeded projections made at the start of 2011. The county collected more than $89.1 million in sales tax last year, an increase of more than $2.7 million over 2010. The year-to-year increase amounted to 3.1 percent.

Sales tax is the county’s largest revenue source.

It’s not clear if the lack of snow and higher-than-normal temperatures this winter that put a damper on the snowmobiling season actually hurt sales tax collections, as some expected would happen. What is certain is that higher gasoline prices this year compared with the same time a year ago are contributing to the amount of sales tax paid by motorists every time they pump fuel into their vehicles.

The total sales tax rate in the county is 8.75 percent, 4.75 for the county and 4 percent for the state.

The cities of Rome and Utica also saw sales tax gains in the first quarter over the same period in 2011.

The state Department of Taxation and Finance reports that Rome’s sales tax increased to $1,655,333, up from $1,546,574, an increase of $108,759 or 7 percent.

For Utica, the county’s largest city, sales tax grew 2.39 percent to $2,244,497, up from $2,192,055.