2019-02-06 / Front Page

DelCo Sees Modest Sales Tax Increase In 2018

By Lillian Browne

DELHI - Local sales tax collections in New York amounted to $17.5 billion in 2018, a 5.3 percent increase over the previous calendar year and the third consecutive year that growth in collections improved, according to a report issued by the New York State Comptroller’s Office on Feb. 3.

Growth was strongest in the second quarter, which had a year-over-year increase of 7.2 percent. The 3.1 percent increase in the fourth quarter was slow by comparison.

The Southern Tier experienced the highest year-over-year increase at 6.8 percent (its strongest since 2011), thanks in part to impressive second- and thirdquarter collections.

Delaware County lagged behind neighboring counties in the Southern Tier, netting a 4.17 increase over 2017 figures, up $22,729,715 from $21,819,240 the year before.

Comparatively, Broome County showed a 7.01 percent increase, Otsego County showed a 5.41 percent increase, and Tioga County showed a 16.15 percent increase.

Adjacent Sullivan County, located within the Mid-Hudson region, increased 16.40 percent in 2018 over 2017.

Experts attribute employment numbers and motor fuel sales to the increases.

In 2018, there were more than 62,000 additional residents employed compared to 2017, and total wages for the first two quarters increased by nearly 5.7 percent compared to the same period in the prior year. Consumer confidence has remained high and consumer spending has been mostly steady throughout the year, while national inflation for goods and services reached 2.4 percent, which was up slightly from the previous year (2.1 percent) and the highest it has been since 2011.

New York stands to raise more revenue with the passage of recent legislation, which allows for the collection of sales tax on internet sales.

Locally, Davenport Supervisor Dennis Valente, who is a member of the county’s Economic Development Committee, said the increase is an indicator of economic health.

Valente attributes a portion of the three-year increase in sales tax revenue to the tourism industry, which, he said, “Is becoming fashionable again.”

The “buzz,” Valente said, is that Delaware County is a great place to visit with abundant outdoor recreation opportunities.

Valente is also a private business owner and revealed that 2018 “was a very good year, that got off to a slow start.” Valente owns Davenport Garden Center in Davenport.

Business is not just good for the landscape, nursery and gardening industry, low-cost retail is thriving in Delaware County.

There are two new retail stores in Delaware County: dollar stores - one in Davenport and one in Grand Gorge.

“We welcome the new businesses,” Valente said. “They are very competitive with bigbox stores.”

Of the increase in sales tax, Delaware County Chamber of Commerce President Ray Pucci said though Delaware County is trailing the rest of the region, it’s still a positive indicator of growth. The Delaware County Chamber of Commerce is the designated tourism promotion agency for the county. There is definitely a correlation between sales tax and the health of the tourism industry, Pucci said. Unfortunately, he said, in many ways, tourism is weather dependent and last year the weather was not exactly conducive to outdoor related activities.

The numbers provided in the Comptroller’s report, Pucci said, are aggregate, so it’s not entirely clear which sector is responsible for the increase.

The report is available online pubs/research/2018-local sales-tax-collections.pdf.

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