Sales tax figures for the second quarter of 2020 show that St. Lawrence County avoided some of the major economic disruptions felt in other regions of the state.
Speaking at the Board of Legislators Operations Committee meeting Monday, St. Lawrence County Treasurer Renee Cole said that though sales tax revenues fell roughly 6 percent in the second quarter of 2020 as compared to the same quarter a year prior, year-to-date revenues are holding steady.
Separately, an analysis by the New York Association of Counties showed St. Lawrence County quarter two sales tax revenue is up 1.3 percent whereas some areas, particularly downstate, have seen devastating double-digit decreases.
“It’s not like we’ve had a lot of growth, it’s just that we didn’t feel the pain as badly,” Ms. Cole told the Times.
The NYSAC figures are adjusted to reflect a portion of the second quarter sales tax revenue which, beginning this year, was intercepted by the state and forwarded to villages as part of the Aid and Incentives for Municipalities program. The adjustment was made in order to more accurately compare the year-to-year figures. According to Ms. Cole, about 49 percent of the $891,000 sales tax decrease in quarter two was the result of the outgoing AIM funds.
Ms. Cole said she believes the relatively flat change in sales tax revenue is largely indicative of the local economy’s reliance on essential consumption for household goods and less on luxury items.
“We’re not like the city where there’s restaurants and shows and all kinds of entertainment and things like that going on.” Ms. Cole said. “I think our stuff is groceries and gas and heating oil.”
At the meeting Monday, legislator Dave Forsythe, R-Lisbon, pointed out that part of the sales revenue could’ve been propped up by the federal stimulus checks issued in response to the pandemic. Ms. Cole said she had no direct proof of that theory, but that there’s a possibility the stimulus checks did contribute.