County sales tax revenue up slightly

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County’s sales tax revenue for the fourth quarter, which included the holiday season, increased slightly, by $72,527, from the same quarter a year ago.

The small increase is in contrast to a more than $400,000 increase in sales tax revenue the county had for the third quarter.

However, County Treasurer Terry Blodgett said 27 counties are reporting their sales tax receipts are down, and Fulton County is one of the exceptions.

“We are one of the few that increased,” he said. “I always say if you have an increase, it’s a good sign.”

According to an analysis provided by Blodgett, the county’s fourth-quarter sales tax distribution was about $4.54 million – $72,527 more than the roughly $4.61 million received by the county for the fourth quarter of 2012.

The portion of sales tax revenue the county claims for itself increased by $40,173 for the fourth quarter. It went from $2.99 million a year ago to $3.03 million for the fourth quarter.

Among the county’s towns and villages, sales tax revenue also increased – by $32,353. About $1.58 million was received by those municipalities for the fourth quarter.

Sales tax distribution in the Glove Cities remained fairly stagnant for the fourth quarter. It increased by $11,346 for Gloversville and decreased by $3,526 for the city of Johnstown. Gloversville took in $603,681 in sales tax revenue for the recent fourth quarter compared to $592,335 a year ago. The city of Johnstown took in $849,408 in revenue for the fourth quarter, compared to $52,935 a year ago.

Blodgett pointed to sluggish sales tax revenue for the fourth quarter reported across the state.

The New York State Association of Counties issued a news release recently indicating the state’s sales tax revenue receipts for the final quarter of 2013 show New York’s “fragile recovery” from the prolonged recession that began in 2008.

“The fourth quarter in New York state shows a very mixed picture and uneven impact of sales tax on a county-by-county basis,” the news release stated. “While aggregate sales tax collected statewide is up by 5.24 percent – $26.7 billion compared to $25.4 billion – much of the total dollar increase is generated from strong growth in New York City, Long Island and downstate counties, likely due to Hurricane Sandy rebuilding.”

The release said that in upstate New York, county sales tax receipts for the fourth quarter are much weaker than projected. Nearly half of New York’s counties – 27 of them – had negative sales tax growth in the final quarter of 2013. The pattern of uneven growth continued in the Southern Tier through much of the Hudson Valley, and up into the Capital Region counties.

NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario said in the news release, “The fourth-quarter sales tax collection, which includes holiday shopping, is a key indicator of our state and local economy. These numbers concern us. The uneven collections demonstrate the need for continued focus on economic development statewide.”

Michael Anich can be reached at