County reports sales tax revenue down

PLATTSBURGH - Sales tax revenue has been reported to be down for the second year in a row, according to local officials.

County treasurer Joseph W. Giroux said the county showed an approximately $422,000 shortfall in its budgeted $32.1 million for the 2010 year.

The shortfall, explained Giroux, means the county received less revenue than anticipated when passing their 2010-2011 budget last year. Sales tax revenue projections for January 2010 were reportedly off by $562,759, though the following months ended up resulting in a surplus. That surplus was depleted by the end of the year, with the months of October and November bringing the county more than $1 million below the amount of revenue originally projected.

"When we look at that revenue stream that's down, it's just about a 2-3 percent loss in revenue on just the sales tax," said Giroux, who noted the county was down nearly 4 percent the previous year when comparing 2009 projections to actual revenue collected.

County administrator Michael E. Zurlo said he attributes the dip in sales tax revenue collected to a combination of a sluggish economy and high unemployment rates.

"That's less in revenue than we anticipated, but that doesn't necessarily compute to the budget being short by that amount," said Zurlo. "We won't know that until we have our books audited and fully close out, which happens at the end of March."

What has helped bring the number up to where it is, however, is the strength of the Canadian dollar, said Zurlo.

"I think that's certainly helped us. It's been strong for a majority of 2010," he said. "It's very strong right now and it's why [Giroux] anticipates we've turned a corner."

"Obviously, the stronger Canadian dollar, the more money that's spent in Clinton County, because of our proximity to Quebec," added Zurlo.

Giroux said the shortfall isn't cause for taxpayers to worry, with other departments reporting expenses in below what they were budgeted, offsetting the loss.

"So, that helps," said Giroux. "We're a $157 million budget and there's $31 million in sales tax. But we also have other revenue streams like property taxes, Medicaid taxes. There's different things, different ways to control that pot."

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