HUDSON – Sales tax collections in Columbia County are up more than 20% in the first quarter of 2022 from the same time last year.
Local sales tax collections in Columbia County increased by 21.2% for the months of January through March by 21.2% this year over the same quarter last year.
The increase from $ 11.8 million collected for this period in 2021 rose to $ 14.3 million collected in 2022 to date, according to a report from the New York State Comptroller’s Office.
“We recorded one of the highest year-over-year sales tax increases in the state of the first quarter of 2022, jumping 21%,” Columbia Economic Development Corporation President and CEO F. Michael Tucker said Friday. “In part due to inflation and the county sales tax collection increased 43%, comparing this first quarter to 2019.”
He said CEDC looked at numbers from 2019 to be able to look at this outside of the context of the pandemic.
“It demonstrates the volume of business being conducted through multiple sectors throughout the county,” Tucker said. “At the same time a large percentage of sales tax was collected on gasoline and these numbers are impacted across the board and the inflation that we’ve all been experiencing.”
The 21.2% change in Columbia County is the largest in the Capital Region and is among the largest in the state. In New York two counties have greater percent increases, Broome and Yates counties, and Schuyler County had a 21.2% increase like Columbia County.
“This may be in part because of the low unemployment rate in Columbia County,” Tucker said.
“Our unemployment is among the lowest in the state,” Tucker said. “People are back to work, and have disposable income as well as the fact that the county economy is significantly influenced by tourism and second homeowners.”
The county had previously seen a boost in online shopping contributing to a sales tax collected increase, Columbia County Treasurer PJ Keeler said.
“Traditionally the top sales categories for sales tax revenue generated for Columbia have been gas, automobile dealers, building materials and electronic shopping has popped in there now, and restaurants and other eating establishments,” Keeler said. “I’m assuming that those categories probably haven’t changed, although I would expect that the biggest factor right now is probably the price of gas and the inflationary factors that are contributing to this.”
It would be difficult to predict if this increase will continue, Keeler said. At the present time, he added, this increase is an anomaly, that the county had not previously seen this spike in sales tax.
“I think it’s important to note that in Columbia County we distribute about 30% of sales tax back to the towns and the City of Hudson,” Keeler said. “For the first quarter of this year, we distributed about $ 4.4 million back to the towns and the city as compared to last year it was about $ 3.5 million. Everybody, all towns, villages, the city, the county were all experiencing inflation. ”
Consumers are getting back in stores and restaurants more this year than last year, the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bill Gerlach said Friday.
“I think for now that is what is driving higher sales taxes,” Gerlach said. “Also, we can’t diminish there is a lot of people coming here to visit. People are spending and buying food and, of course, that drives sales tax. ”
“We are seeing signs of strength in the economy this year,” Gerlach said. “It is important not to underestimate people’s demands on things now, and people are waiting to upgrade houses and waiting for long periods of time for furniture. The demand also contributes to an increase in sales tax.
“I think right now people are feeling pretty good about things,” Gerlach said. “I do have concerns about inflation like everybody does. I do have concerns about the price of energy at the moment like everybody does. ”
Statewide, local government sales tax collections increased by 21.1%, or $ 901 million, in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, according to the Comptroller’s report. Collections for the quarter totaled almost $ 5.2 billion, with growth driven at least partially by inflation, according to the report.
“Local sales tax collections continue to come in strong. While local governments are collecting more, they are also dealing with some of the same increased costs that consumers and private businesses are, ”DiNapoli said. “With prices rising, we’re watching closely to see what impact the rate of inflation and economic volatility is having on New York’s economic recovery.”