Sales tax revenue climbs

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The gross amount of sales tax revenue generated in Oneida County rebounded in the first quarter of the year, coming in nearly 4 percent ahead of the first three months of 2015.

Before funding is distributed to the towns and villages in the county, total sales tax revenue for the county in the first quarter is nearly $31.1 million, an increase of about $1.16 million over the same period last year, according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance. However, the total is still below the same three months in 2013 and 2014.

“It’s a positive,” said County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “Every little bit helps.”

While encouraged by the results, he is mindful that 2016’s first quarter still trails 2014. He said managing the county’s budget in 2016 is going to be a struggle. Over his objections, the Board of Legislators cut this year’s tax levy by 1.4 percent. Picente had recommended keeping the amount of money raised in property taxes at the 2015 level.

Picente said he wasn’t sure of the reasons for the sales tax recovery between this year and last. He did observe that gas prices have been creeping up this year.

The county official also noted that the milder winter may have contributed to more robust economic activity compared with last year’s cold winter.

Sales tax is Oneida County’s largest revenue source. The county charges a 4.75 percent tax in addition to the 4 percent state tax.

Sales tax revenue for the county’s two largest cities grew by even larger percentages in January, February and March, reports the state: 4.5 percent, or $72,164 to nearly $1.7 million, in Rome and 7.2 percent, or $172,312 to $2.4 million, in Utica. The first-quarter results for both cities are the best in the last four years.

Collections between the first quarter of 2016 and 2015 in Madison County went up 4.9 percent, an increase of $282,126 to $6 million — the highest total in the last four years. However, sales tax declined 4.4 percent in Lewis County, a decrease of $114,108 to $2.46 million.

The average increase across the state for counties was 2.25 percent although 20 counties collected less than they did in the same quarter of 2015, reports the New York State Association of Counties.

“To put this into perspective, the first quarter of 2015 was particularly bad for counties in regard to local sales tax receipts, with 33 counties collecting less sales tax in 2015 than they did in 2014 in the first quarter,” notes the association. “Of the 20 counties that had negative receipts in the first quarter of 2016 compared to 2015, 11 of them also experienced negative sales tax receipts in the first quarter of 2015 compared to 2014.”

By the quarter

A look at first-quarter sales tax collections from 2016 to 2013:

-- Oneida County

2016: $31,086,263

2015: $29,927,629

2014: $31,553,003

2013: $31,422,253

-- Rome

2016: $1,671,204

2015: $1,599,040

2014: $1,620,962

2013: $1,648,398

-- Utica

2016: $2,422,742

2015: $2,250,431

2014: $2,275,967

2013: $2,403,980

-- Madison County

2016: $6,039,067

2015: $5,756,940

2014: $5,742,070

2013: $5,775,189

-- Lewis County 

2016: $2,458,768

2015: $2,572,876

2014: $2,776,510

2013: $2,396,615

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