Sales tax revenues exceed budget as county lawmakers consider whether to reduce taxes

BREAKING: Allegany County, NY, legislators are expected to determine this week whether they will continue to add more money to the county’s surplus account or provide a significant reduction in property or sales tax, after receiving a report today that county sales tax receipts for this year are likely to be over $5 million more than budgeted and at least $3 million more than being proposed as revenues next year.

The Board of Legislators will meet at 10AM Wednesday in Belmont as a Committee of the Whole to review next year’s tentative budget, after a public hearing last Thursday in which Allegany Hope called for a $10 million drop in taxes, or one-third of its current surplus which exceeds an entire year’s tax levy.

Sales tax is up
A report today from County Treasurer Terri Ross to the Board’s Budget Committee shows the county has received some $24.8 million in sales tax revenue this year year to date, compared with $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 would bring the excess to more than $5 million.

If replicated during the Christmas spending period, the county would receive some $3 million more than the $25.5 it is budgeting for 2023.

This doesn’t consider additional inflation which is expected to occur next year or the revenue not received this year due to a three-months gasoline tax holiday from June through August, reducing the revenue which would have been received to date.

Among highest taxes in state
Allegany County currently has the second highest property and third highest sales tax of any county in the state. It has held such property tax distinction since 2019 when Cortland County edged it out of first place.

The county also has had the third highest general sales tax rate since 2006, or some 16 years, and was the second highest in the state in 2004 and 2005 until Erie County surpassed it.

Legislators have appeared to use the property and sales tax excesses, combined with inflated annual expenditures and lesser projected revenues, to maintain surpluses which allow it to decrease property taxes by minimal amounts each year.

However, in the current year, although the real property tax rate decreased, nearly one-half of town residents paid higher taxes due to equalization rates. The tentative budget for 2023 would have 10 out of the 29 towns experiencing higher tax rates than this year.

Over $6.5 million excess last year
Last year, the county received nearly $6.6 million more in revenues over expenses than that which had been budgeted.

Use of $10 million in surplus, as proposed at the budget hearing, leaving more than $20 million for cash flow purposes, would reduce average property taxes by another 23.5 percent.

No consideration has been given in the tentative budget for some $9 million received by the county during the past two years from federal pandemic aid, with only a portion of that total having been allocated to date.

After Wednesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, the budget is expected to be adopted by the Board on the day before Thanksgiving.

A copy of the 2023 tentative budget is available at
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