County sees sales tax revenue drop

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton County’s sales tax came in slightly lower for the second quarter — the reverse of several other regional counties that saw gains.

Fulton County was one of only nine of New York state’s 62 counties that saw a sales tax decrease for the quarter.

“It just concerns me when I see everybody’s up,” county Treasurer Terry Blodgett said Monday.

Blodgett’s office in Johnstown provided an analysis for the second quarter of 2017, and the results for Fulton County weren’t as rosy as they have been in the past. Total sales tax distribution to the county came in at about $5.24 million for the second quarter — down only $6,446 or 0.1 percent — from a year ago. The county’s second quarter sales in 2016 was about $5.25 million.

Even though the amount of sales brought in was “fine” for Fulton County, Blodgett said figures attributed to most of the other area counties showed a slightly different story.

According to New York State Association of Counties figures provided to Blodgett, the following showed second quarter increases: Montgomery County — 7 percent; Herkimer County — 4.7 percent; Saratoga County — 2 percent; Schoharie County — 3.9 percent; Schenectady County — 7 percent; Rensselaer County — 6.4 percent; and Washington County — 1.6 percent.

Like Fulton County, Hamilton County and Albany County both registered decreases in second quarter sales tax at 5.9 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.

NYSAC Finance and Intergovernmental Affairs Director Dave Lucas wrote Blodgett with information about the statewide sales tax situation.

“County sales tax collections for the second quarter came in better than they have in a while,” Lucas wrote. “The growth rate in collections is still below pre-great recession averages, but the second quarter and year-to-date results are an improvement. Part of the better results is linked to a slight recovery in gasoline prices in the first half of the year – in the first quarter gasoline prices were about 18 percent higher than they were last year and for the first six months of the year they were about 10 percent higher. This reduced drag on collections likely helped bolster overall collections.”

Lucas added: “There is still weakness in the overall economy, especially retail, combined with increasing amounts of uncollected sales tax due to the continued growth in pure internet purchasing. Economic performance and internet sales will create headwinds, but the second quarter and first half of the year were better than what we have seen in some time.”

Highlights in NYSAC’s report included that only nine counties collected less in sales tax in the second quarter of 2017 compared to the same quarter in 2016. Aggregate county growth in sales tax collections was up by 3.4 percent in the second quarter compared to last year. The average change per county in the quarter was up 4.4 percent.

The aggregate county growth in sales tax collections was up by 3.4 percent for the first 6 months of the year

Blodgett’s analysis for Fulton County shows the amount of sales tax distribution that goes to the county itself actually increased by $37,673 from the second quarter of 2016. The total sales tax receipts for the county itself went from about $3.5 million a year ago to $3.54 million this past quarter, which ended in June.

Blodgett said he didn’t have exact sales tax figures this quarter from the cities of Gloversville and Johnstown to make public.

Gloversville Commissioner of Finance Tammie Weiterschan said that second quarter sales tax rose in that city — from $821,213 in 2016 to $864,915 in 2017.

Johnstown City Treasurer Terry Blodgett couldn’t be reached Tuesday.

Sales tax for the second quarter was down in Fulton County’s towns and villages decreased by $44,120 from a year ago. That total was about $1.7 million for the second quarter, compared to about $1.75 million in revenue a year ago.

Every town and village in Fulton County showed a drop in sales tax, except the village of Broadalbin portion in the town of Mayfield, which registered a $180 gain.

Otherwise, these sales tax losses were registered throughout the county: town of Bleecker — $1,597; town of Broadalbin — $3,204; village of Broadalbin — $998; town of Caroga — $14,050; town of Ephratah — $467; town of Johnstown — $2,295; town of Mayfield — $6,846; village of Mayfield — $432; town of Northampton — $5,928; village of Northville — $1,993; town of Oppenheim — $1,288; village of Dolgeville (part in Fulton County) — $9.35; town of Perth — $2,061; town of Stratford — $3,126.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Patricia Older

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