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County sales tax revenue is up for 2011

    TRI-COUNTY AREA—Sales tax revenue for Yates, Schuyler and Steuben Counties all increased when comparing 2011 to 2010.
    Yates Treasurer Bonnie Percy said the county received $9,868,796.91 in sales tax revenue for 2011. This is up 8 percent over 2010 ($9,115,426.83). The percent increase is the 11th highest in the state.
    Percy said the sales tax revenue was only down in two months of 2011. She said the revenue in July was down 9 percent and in September was down 1 percent. She said the increases from the other months carried the two negative percentages.
    The county budgeted for $9,070,000 in 2011 sales tax revenue. Yates Administrator Sarah Purdy said the county is estimating it will receive $9,367,000 in 2012. She explained the 2011 increase gives them a financial “cushion.”
    “I don’t think anyone expected it to turn out as good as it did,” said Purdy.
    She added that there was no one thing that specifically caused the 8 percent increase. Purdy said the “aggressive and active tourism agency” certainly got people to come to the area and spend money.
    Schuyler County earned 19 percent more sales tax revenue in 2011 than in 2010, the largest percentage increase in the state. According to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, Schuyler raised $9,845,185 worth of sales tax revenue in 2011. In 2010, the total was $8,271,027. That $1,574,158 difference equals a 19 percent increase in revenue.
    Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn said two factors led to the increase. The first was the three-day music festival held by the band Phish at Watkins Glen International. O’Hearn said it brought in around $500,000 in sales tax revenue.
    He said the other main reason for the increase was an adjustment. O’Hearn explained in 2009 the county was overpaid $230,000, which was deducted from the 2010 revenue. O’Hearn said any increase is of course due to the tourism industry, with some gains in the room tax. He specifically pointed to the Harbor Hotel.
    “They’ve confirmed they experienced a double digit increase,” said O’Hearn. “So goes the Harbor Hotel, so goes the county.”
    Schuyler had actually budgeted for a $1.1 million increase in sales tax revenue. O’Hearn said he is optimistic the trend will continue, but added it will be hard to top last year. He explained there are a number of different projects in development that could bring in more sales tax revenue in future years.
    “There’s nothing in the works for 2012, but hopefully in 2013,” said O’Hearn.
    In comparison, the county with the second highest percentage increase was Tioga with 15 percent. Orleans County was third with 12.95 percent. Neighboring Steuben County was eighth with 9.2 percent. Steuben’s total sales tax revenue for 2011 was $45,370,990.72 and in 2010 was $41,513,581.73.





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