County sales tax figures show improvement compared to '15

Saturday, October 22, 2016 - Updated: 4:08 AM


Recorder News Staff

Montgomery County officials are optimistic about sales tax numbers in the county despite facing a significant decline in 2015.

The state Association of Counties released third quarter sales tax results, for July through September, that show Montgomery County is up about 4.88 percent from the third quarter of 2015. The county is showing about a 2.89 percent increase overall for January through September of 2016.

"It is a good sign," Montgomery County Treasurer Shawn Bowerman said.

This year's third quarter sales tax totaled $7.5 million, which is a $350,744 increase over the third quarter of 2015. Bowerman said in 2015, the $7.2 million in third quarter sales tax reflected a 7.8 percent decrease from 2014, so the 2016 numbers are a positive.

"Unfortunately, it didn't recover to the level of 2014, but it definitely is a good sign the third quarter did recover from last year," Bowerman said, adding that each municipality will see an increase in their distribution over the third quarter of last year.

He said sales tax was down every quarter for 2015. In the first quarter, it was down 8 percent, the second 2.6 percent, the third 7.8 and the fourth 8.3. "Every quarter last year took a decrease from 2014," he said. Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort said he is encouraged by the numbers thus far.

"It is promising that we are up almost three percent for the year compared to where we were through three quarters last year and that keeps us on track to meet our budgeted sales tax projection for 2016," Ossenfort said.

Bowerman said he believes the county should hit the amount of sales tax budgeted for the 2016 county budget--$27.5 million. That number does not reflect the disbursement to municipalities. The same amount has been budgeted for the 2017 budget the county legislature passed during an Oct. 11 meeting.

In 2015, Montgomery County faced the largest sales tax decline in the state, at 6.7 percent, although many counties across the state faced a decline as well. County and state officials have said the drop in fuel prices were largely to blame.

For Montgomery County, fuel sales were the largest factor in sales tax.

Overall, the county's sales tax dropped from $29.1 million in 2014 to $27.2 million in 2015. The drop in sales tax from declining gas prices accounts for nearly all of that $1.9 million loss. In 2014, $5.7 million was collected in sales tax from fuel, whereas in 2015, that fell to $3.8 million. Bowerman said fuel prices has gone up a little, which could be the cause of the third quarter rise, although he said numbers have fluctuated this year. In the first quarter, numbers were up 6.24 percent, and down about 2 percent in the second quarter.

"I'm hoping we don't get another declining in the fourth quarter," Bowerman said.

Elsewhere locally, Fulton County has seen a 4.77 increase in the third quarter, totalling $5.6 million. Schenectady and Saratoga counties also saw increases of 1.24 percent and 3.24 percent, respectively.

Officials with the state Association of Counties (NYSAC) said the third quarter sales tax data shows "continued economic volatility."

"These latest sales tax numbers continue what we have been seeing for the last few years--very uneven sales tax collections. There appears to be no clear pattern," NYSAC Executive Director Steven Acquario said.

According to NYSAC, 19 of the state's 62 counties declined in the third quarter and averaged about a 1.9 percent decline. Upstate has shown more volatile numbers, while downstate has fared better, NYSAC officials said.