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Sales tax income down again

Andy Ouriel • Apr 24, 2014 at 9:30 AM

It’s hard to find something lower than this past January’s frigid temperatures.

But just look to Erie County’s sales tax income, and you’ll see how once again actual collections fell below budgeted projections.

Customers buying taxable goods in Erie County in January created about $1.24 million in local sales tax income.

The numbers for January were finalized this month. It typically takes three months for officials to calculate a particular month’s actual sales tax amount.

The latest collection continues a disturbing trend for sales tax figures.

For four consecutive months now — dating back to January, which reflects October numbers — actual collections have fallen short of the budgeted amount.

Constant shortfalls in month-over-month sales tax figures have translated into about a $320,000 overall shortfall thus far in 2014, when analyzing finalized numbers for January, February, March and April.

“The sales tax receipts in the past four months have unfortunately reflected the sluggish U.S. economy,” Erie County commissioner Bill Monaghan said. “The figures have not reflected our estimates of receipts”

Monaghan said the shortfall right now isn’t enough for commissioners to even begin considering service reductions.

Sales tax money represents about half of Erie County’s annual income injected into the $27 million everyday operating budget. The money funds many public services, including court, sheriff and maintenance operations.

2014 Erie County sales tax income

•Actual collection to date: $5.95 million

•Budgeted # amount to date: $6.27 million

•Up or down projection: Down about $320,000

•Year-end goal: $22 million

Source: Erie County finance department

2014 tax outlook 

Erie County will collect a sizable amount of sales tax money this year. Beginning this past October, shoppers buying taxable goods in Erie County paid a higher tax rate.

In July, county commissioners voted to temporarily raisethe sales tax rate for one year. The increase is expected to generate an extra $7.2 million in 2014 for a yearly total of about $22 million in sales tax money. The additional $7.2 million is strictly earmarked to fund infrastructure improvements. The state’s portion of the sales tax also increased at the same time the county’s temporary tax spike kicked in.

Here’s a breakdown of the past, present and future tax outlook in Erie County:

•6.5 percent: Tax rate prior to October, with 5.5 percent going to the state and 1 percent going to Erie County.

•7.25 percent: Tax rate from Oct. 1, 2013, to Oct. 1, 2014, with 5.75 percent going to state and 1.5 percent going to Erie County.

•6.75 percent: Tax rate from Oct. 1, 2014 going forward, with 5.75 percent going to state and 1 percent going to Erie County.


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