Double-digit sales gains of up to 300 percent experienced last year in 13 out of 20 top Allegany County business categories

BREAKING: Sales of automotive equipment rental and leasing shot up more than 300 percent for most of last year in Allegany County, NY, as all taxable sales rose 16.9 percent from March 2021 to February 2022.

Numbers attributed to the top 20 sales categories, which only show declines in electric power generation, transmission and distribution and wired and wireless telecommunications carriers, are on the agenda today for the county Board of Legislators Budget Committee at its meeting in Belmont.

The data apparently was provided to the county by the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), which reports that automobile dealers generated the most sales taxable revenue during the time period at $87.7 million, followed by electronic shopping and mail-order houses at $51 million and gasoline stations at $42 million, all part of $617.5 million in total taxable sales,

More than three quarters of that total, $473.9 million or some 76.7 percent, is being generated by the top 20 sales categories.

The full list of the top 20, as provided by NYSAC, accompanies this story.

The data comes as the county board, meeting as a Committee of the Whole this morning, will debate any changes to the county’s $131.7 million spending plan for next year and whether it will apply more of its $30.3 million projected surplus at the end of the year, beyond the $3 million already budgeted, to reduce property or sales taxes for county residents.

The surplus is greater than the entire $29.75 million general fund tax levy currently projected for next year.

As previously reported, county taxpayers have experienced the second highest property and third highest sales tax of any county in the state for several years.

The county has held the property tax distinction since 2019 when Cortland County edged it out of being in first place for even more years.

The third highest general sales tax distinction has been held since 2006, or some 16 years, being the second highest in the state in 2004 and 2005 until Erie County surpassed it.

Legislators resisting a further tax reduction may point to a projection from NYSAC, also distributed yesterday, that a four-year projected state deficit potential of $6.58 billion, based on conditions at the time of the report, could result in reduced state aid to the county.

The $6.58 billion, however, doesn’t include $17 billion which has been allocated to go into a reserve fund, or a second quarterly state fiscal year update.

That update, reported last week, shows improvement in the state’s revenues over previous projections, with the long-term deficit, without considering the major reserve fund allocations which can be used as an offset, now being from $3 billion to $6 billion out of a 2022-2023 state budget of $220.5 billion, or some 1.5 to three percent.

Some state legislators also are calling for a permanent gas tax holiday, which Gov. Kathy Hochul is reported to be open to.

The current state reduction of 16-cents per gallon on gasoline expires December 31.

Allegany County had provided a cap on sales tax on purchases above $3 per gallon from June through August but then let it expire.

As Allegany Hope Community News reported late last month, county sales tax revenues jumped in September by 11.9 percent over the same 30-day period last year, after experiencing decreases of 33.5 percent in June, followed by increases of 2.1 and 2.3 percent in July and August during the gas cap holiday.

The State Comptroller noted as part of his most recent monthly report that Allegany County received over 50 percent more than the state average in motor fuel sales tax last year when compared to its total sales tax receipts.

As we first reported Monday, updated data for October from County Treasurer Terri Ross, shows some $24.8 million in sales tax revenue as having been received this year to date, or some $1.32 million more than the $23.5 million budgeted, with four more payments anticipated before the end of the year.

In 2021, the county received over $4.1 million in those four scheduled payments which, if replicated during this inflationary period, would bring the county’s excess at the end of the year to more than $5 million, all or part of which would be added to the county’s current surplus.

Last year, the county received $6.5 million more in total revenues over expenses during the year.

If replicated during the Christmas spending period, the county would end up with some $3 million more than the $25.5 million it is budgeting for next year in sales tax revenue.

NYSAC also is reporting that the county is expected to receive $293,000 in opioid settlement money from major drug companies through the end of the year.
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