Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Allegany County: Sales tax revenue dips

February 17, 2016
Committee Members Present: C. Crandall, P. Curran, D. Healy, J. Hopkins, D. Root (Absent: D. Fanton, K. LaForge)
Others Present: R. Hollis, J. Margeson, T. Miner, B. Riehle, T. Ross, R. Scott
Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 11:09 a.m. by Budget Committee Chairman Curt Crandall.
Approval of Minutes
A motion was made by Legislator Curran, seconded by Legislator Healy, and carried to approve the Budget Committee minutes of January 20, 2015.
Sales Tax Report
            County Treasurer Terri Ross distributed the Allegany County Sales Tax Report reflecting receipts through February 16, 2016, totaling $2,036,830.42. Receipts for the current period indicate a decrease of $252,065.99 or 11 percent from this time last year. She stated she talked with Wyoming and Montgomery Counties about their results last year.  Their gas tax was down, but taxes from other sources were up.  Ms. Ross said for Allegany County it was the opposite.  Gas tax was up, but the taxes from other sources were down.  She said there is a meeting next Friday, and they will discuss it some more.  Legislator Curran said he hasn’t spoken to anyone whose business has decreased.   
            Ms. Ross distributed and reviewed the local brief from the Office of the New York State Comptroller.  She spoke about the local collections across the State in 2015.  She noted half of the increase in New York City was due to an adjustment for incorrect payments in previous years. The brief includes a 2014 to 2015 chart of all counties and sales tax collections.  Ms. Ross talked about Steuben County. They had 9.5 percent because Hornell and Corning repealed their individual sales tax in March 2015. They will now get a distribution of the County’s sales tax collections, rather than their own separate collections.  Chairman Crandall commented about twenty to thirty counties had a decrease.  Allegany County had a 3.5 percent decrease.  He noted there were about four to five other counties that were down more than that.  He added that the overall financial picture for the County is good. 
            Chairman Crandall said there was some discussion at the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) about the proper reporting or distribution of sales tax on fringe.  Ms. Ross said she hasn’t heard anything more, and hopefully they will talk about it next Friday along with zip codes.  She said a County suggested adding the County on people’s driver’s licenses so the appropriate County will get the sales tax. 
            Ms. Ross also distributed the 2015 Demographic Snapshot for Allegany County.  It contains a lot of information including home values. She also distributed the most recent data from 2013 for Allegany County on taxable sales which is broken down by industry. This information also includes combined state and county sales tax rates.   The second map shows the sales tax each county charged on clothing and footwear.  This report includes gas stations under retail trade rather than in utilities – residential energy. Ms. Ross noted the only reason they get a breakdown on the fuel is because gas stations have to prepay sales tax.  They pay when the fuel is delivered, not when they sell it.  Legislator Curran said one way to help the sales tax is not to give sales tax exemption to everyone. He noted 60 percent of his sales are tax exempt.  Ms. Ross noted many of the big building projects in the County are tax exempt.  That includes school and County projects. 
            Chairman Crandall talked about the Committee monitoring the County Budget and quarterly revenue and expenses. He asked if the Committee wants to know more about mandated and non-mandated programs and the local share costs of programs. He also wondered if they want to know about the different accounts and how they relate to the budget.  A majority of the Committee stated they would like to know more information.  Chairman Crandall thinks the Committee should understand and know more about the budget in addition to the sales tax report.  He believes knowing what the cost to the County for mandated and non-mandated programs is important.  He believes if they maintain that information, then they can use that information to talk to State representatives about the increase cost in local share.  Ms. Ross stated if they wanted to look at a program or department, she can run reports for the last three years including the net cost for any program.  Chairman Crandall stated he sees a shift where some program’s local share is increasing.  Legislator Curran said a snapshot of a department’s overall cost including state and local shares would be useful.  Ms. Ross stated she will bring in samples of reports for programs for the last three years. 
            There being no further business to come before the Committee, the meeting was adjourned at 12:05 a.m. following a motion by Legislator Curran, seconded by Legislator Root, and carried.
Respectfully submitted,
Rebecca Scott, Secretary to the Clerk of the Board, Allegany County Board of Legislators