Sales tax revenue up over 2020

WATERTOWN — Sales tax revenue recovered considerably across the north country in March compared to the same month last year when businesses began shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the north country region consisting of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, revenue increased by a total of 31.7%, or $7.5 million, according to a report released Friday by state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Revenue grew from $23.6 million in March 2020 to $31.1 million this past March.

Lewis County saw its revenue in March rise by $500,000, or 37.8%, going from $1.4 million in March 2020 to $1.9 million in March 2021. St. Lawrence County experienced similar percent gains, going from $5.2 million in March 2020 to $6.9 million this March, a 33.7% increase. Jefferson County recorded revenue of $9.5 million in March, an increase of 30.5% over the $7.3 million realized in March 2020.

Each of the three counties also saw sizeable percent growth in the first three months of 2021 compared to the same time period a year ago.

Through January, February and March of this year, Lewis County has realized revenue of $3.4 million, a 10.4% increase over last year’s $3.1 million. St. Lawrence County saw revenue of $15.9 million during the first quarter of 2021, compared to $14.6 million during the same period last year, representing a 9.1% increase. Jefferson County’s revenue increased by 10.9%, going from $18.3 million in January through March 2020 to $20.3 million during that quarter this year.

Oswego County, which is in the Central New York region, did not fare as well.

In March, its revenue fell 8.6% from a year ago, going from $5.1 million in March 2020 to $4.6 million this year. Revenue for the first three months of 2021 remained unchanged from the same period a year ago, with the county realizing $11.6 million in each year.

Across the state, sales tax revenue fell 3.9% in the first quarter of 2021, from about $4.44 billion in 2020 to $4.26 billion this year.

“Although collections remain down compared to last year, there are signs of improvement as the state continues to recover from the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr. DiNapoli said in a statement. “Local officials are cautioned to monitor their budgets closely because the pandemic’s trajectory and its effect on our state’s fiscal recovery remain uncertain.”

Mr. DiNapoli said it’s the fourth quarter in a row that overall collections have dropped statewide year-over-year. From April 2020 through March 2021, statewide local collections are down by 11.8%, or $2.2 billion.

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