Local Sales Tax Collections Growth Improves in Third Quarter of 2019

Local sales tax collections in New York State totaled $4.8 billion in the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 6.3 percent over the third quarter of 2018. This growth was stronger than in either of the first two quarters of the year.

OLEAN — Sales tax revenue appeared to have been buoyed across the region by taxing internet transactions, but Olean city revenues continue to lag.

Statewide, sales tax collection through the first three quarters of 2019 grew in 51 of 57 counties outside of New York City, according to the Office of the State Comptroller on Friday.

“Local sales tax collections growth increased between July and September, making it the strongest quarter of 2019,” state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said. “Additional internet sales tax revenue may be a contributing factor, along with the continued rise in consumer spending and wages.”

Cattaraugus County collected $10.6 million in sales tax revenue for the third quarter, a 4.5% increase from 2018. Year-to-date, collections come to $29.7 million, a 2.6% increase from 2018.

Allegany County saw $6 million in sales tax revenue, an increase of 8.5% from the third quarter of 2018. Year-to-date, the county has received $16.4 million, a 2.2% increase from the same period of 2018.

While up, the area’s rates of increase are lower than the statewide and regional averages. Western New York saw an average year-to-date increase of 3.4%, and the statewide average is 4.3% due to higher revenues downstate. New York City saw a 5% increase, while the Mid-Hudson region saw a 5.3% increase. The region with the lowest increase was Central New York, with a 1.6% increase — lower than the change in the consumer price index in that period.

The seven counties that saw sales tax collections decrease were Livingston County and a number of counties located in the Catskills and Adirondacks. Of the counties with decreases, almost half were due to corrections by the state for previous quarters.

Most of the state’s 61 cities outside of New York City receive a share of what their respective counties collect, but 17 of them choose to impose their own general sales tax — the Cattaraugus County cities of Olean and Salamanaca are among them.

Revenue fell in Olean for the quarter and year to date. With $1.1 million for the quarter, revenue fell 2.7%. Year-to-date, the city has collected $3.2 million, a 2.5% decrease. The city saw the second-largest decrease of the 17 cities.

The city’s 2019-20 budget, which began in June, predicted $4.39 million in sales and use tax revenue, an increase of $127,000 over the previous year.

Better news was reported for Salamanca, one of 14 cities to see an increase. Collections, at around $200,000, rose 5.2% from the third quarter of 2018. Year-to-date collections are around $500,000, a 4.7% increase.

The city saw the sixth-highest increase among the cities, not counting Oneida which only saw a major increase due to corrections made by the state. The city’s collections are lower than many other similar-sized municipalities due to the tax-exempt status of Seneca-owned businesses.

(Contact City Editor Bob Clark at bclark@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)