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County sales tax revenue outpaces region

YATES, SCHUYLER COUNTIES--Yates County collected $10,925,943 in local sales tax in 2014, a 3 percent growth compared to 2013. This comes as local sales tax collections statewide in 2014 suffered the slowest annual growth since the end of the 2008-09 recession, according to a report issued by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The increase in county sales tax collections, excluding all cities, was 1.3 percent in 2014 compared to 2013 -- significantly lower than the 3.8 percent growth experienced in 2013 compared to 2012.

For Schuyler County, sales tax revenue increased 5.1 percent in the same period of time. Schuyler collected $10,106,417 in local sales tax in 2014. The Yates and Schuyler increases buck the regional trend. Regionally, the Finger Lakes had 0.9 percent growth, alongside central New York with 2.6 percent and western New York at 1.9 percent were below the statewide average in 2014.

"The actual receipt was $10.9 million and we had anticipated $10.3 million, so the receipts were $626,000 better than we had expected," Yates County Administrator Sarah Purdy said.

Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn said the sales tax growth can largely be attributed to multiple influencing factors.

"Tourism continues to be strong as we are experiencing growth both in room tax and sales tax from the previous year," O'Hearn said. "Part of the increase in percent is due to the fact that 2013 was not a great year for growth. Even with a 5 percent increase, we still came in slightly under budget. We have budgeted 0 percent growth for 2015. Additionally there is an uptick in economic indicators resulting in increased consumer confidence and spending. Unemployment is at a five-year low and recent drops in gasoline prices and continued low interest rates have helped spur spending both locally and on the tourism front."

O'Hearn said the outlook for 2015 projects a flat growth rate.

"While I expect that tourism will continue to grow, that growth will be offset with a decline in revenues due to Watkins Glen International repaving project," O'Hearn said. "With the track shut down for almost three months there will be a significant drop in lodging and economic impact typically generated by this facility. Additionally, while lower gas prices should drive increased tourism, it also represents a loss of sales tax revenue as gas sales account for 11 percent of our total sales tax revenue."

Meanwhile, the rest of the state experienced the slowest sales tax growth since the recession. Of the other surrounding counties, only Seneca County was one of five counties in the state who had a decline in sales tax collection, a 1.4 decrease from 2013.

Across the state, collections grew by $439 million, or 3 percent, in 2014 compared to 2013. In 2013, the growth rate was 5.2 percent. New York's 15-year annual average growth in sales taxes is 4.2 percent.

"Municipalities across this state know all too well the volatile nature of sales tax revenue in uncertain economic times," DiNapoli said. "When our local governments have slower-than-expected revenue growth, the results can have a serious impact on their budgets now and in the future. As the 2015 fiscal year unfolds, I recommend local leaders continue their vigilance in monitoring their revenues and spending and be ready to tighten their belts should this slowdown continue."

DiNapoli's report found nearly 70 percent of the total growth in local sales tax collections last year took place in New York City. The city's sales tax collections grew by $304 million, or 4.8 percent in 2014, compared to 6.8 percent growth in 2013.

Additional findings in DiNapoli's report indicate sales tax collections grew in 52 of the 57 counties outside of New York City. Sales taxes also made up 33 percent of all county revenues. Of this, 7.5 percent was distributed by the counties to other local governments, including cities, towns, villages and school districts.

For a copy of the report, visit For a list of county-by-county sales tax collections, visit

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