ALBANY — Local sales tax collections throughout the state increased by 14.1% in February compared to the same month last year, according to a report from state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Statewide, local collections totaled $1.64 billion, up $203 million compared to February 2022.
In Montgomery County, sales tax collection totaled $3.1 million in February, up 17.1% from the February 2022 total of $2.6 million.
Robert Purtell, chairman of the Montgomery County Legislature, said the increased sales tax collection represented positive news, but noted that the rise could also be attributed in part to inflation on consumer goods for county residents.
“The only negative is that people are paying more money for the products that they’re buying,” he said. “It would be interesting to see some correlation between increases in prices versus increases in sales tax. The downside is that there’s more dollars coming out of everybody’s weekly budget.”
Purtell said the legislature hopes to utilize the increased sales tax to help extend the county’s streak of three consecutive years without raising property taxes.
“From a county standpoint, we have to be happy with the increase in the sales tax,” Purtell said. “Even though we budget conservatively on our sales tax annually, we do expect that there should be increases.”
In Schenectady County, sales tax collections totaled $9.9 million last month, up 17.1% over the $8.4 million collected in February 2022. Percentages are based on the exact dollar amounts collected by each county in February.
Saratoga County recorded a 13.9% increase compared to the same timeframe last year, with the county collecting $11.9 million in February, up from $10.4 million last year.
Fulton County saw a 15.6% increase in its February totals year-over-year, with $2 million collected in February 2023, up $300,000 over the same period last year.
“Certainly the sales tax over the last year and a half to two years has been pretty strong,” Fulton County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said. “When you look at the trend over three years, it does look like, though it’s been up, that most counties are trending back toward historical norms.”
Stead noted that changes in 2019 to the state’s law pertaining to collecting sales tax for online purchases boosted local tax collections through the early days of the COVID pandemic, with consumer spending returning to normal habits with the pandemic receding.
“Sales tax has been up and has remained steady through that time period but it does definitely look like it’s trending back toward more of the historical norm of a trend,” he said.
The state comptroller warned that the pace of sales tax collections could decelerate in future months.
“While local sales tax collections continue to experience major growth in 2023, future collections may not grow at such a fast pace,” DiNapoli noted in a statement. “With the nation and the state facing significant economic challenges, local governments should exercise caution and use responsible budgeting practices.”
Montgomery County collected $46.5 million in sales tax in 2022, a $5.1 million increase over 2021.
Fulton County collected $28.9 million in 2022, a 7.1 % increase, with Schenectady County up 4.2% and Saratoga County up 4.8% in 2022.
The monthly sales tax collections figures originate from the cash distributions made to counties and tax-imposing cities by the state Department of Taxation and Finance, with the amounts based on estimates of what each municipality is due.