Local sales tax collections were $397 million — 5.7 percent — higher for the first half of 2013 compared to the same period last year, according to a new report from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Much of the growth was in downstate regions.
Rockland County’s sales tax collections were 9.3 percent higher than the first six months of 2012. Growth in Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk counties was boosted by cleanup and rebuilding projects after Superstorm Sandy last fall, DiNapoli said. Nassau’s was the highest in the state at 11 percent. New York City’s growth was 7.5 percent.
“The growth in sales tax revenue is a promising sign for many communities,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the economic improvement has been uneven and the trends are headed in the wrong direction for some of our most vulnerable municipalities. Sales tax collections are a vital source of revenue for local governments. Without positive growth during the second half of the year, many local budgets will be under increased pressure.”
DiNapoli’s analysis found that year-over-year growth in sales tax collections was 5.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013 and 5.9 percent in the second quarter.
Westchester County collected 5.8 percent more in sales taxes than the first half of 2012. Putnam County’s growth was between 3 percent and 6 percent; it was not specifically highlighted in the report.
Parts of upstate New York, particularly the Southern Tier, didn’t fare as well as New York City, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley. Collections were down 3.3 percent in the Southern Tier. They increased 1.2 percent in the Capital Region and 1.1 percent in the North Country.
While some short-term variation in sales tax growth comes from technical adjustments in the distribution of local sales tax collections, this overall pattern could indicate a slowing in the upstate economy, DiNapoli said.