Erie, Niagara sales tax collections up in '11

February 22, 2012 Updated Feb 22, 2012 at 8:32 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First

February 22, 2012 Updated Feb 22, 2012 at 8:32 AM EDT

New York has been ranked No. 1 by the State Entrepreneurship Index, a state-by-state measurement of entrepreneurial activity.
Local sales tax collections across New York grew by $650 million, or 5 percent, in 2011, according to a report from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

The comptroller said that the increase was at a slower rate than the previous year.

In Erie County, sales tax collections amounted to $677.18 million, up 4.7 percent from $647.08 million year-over-year. Niagara County had sales tax gains of 8.3 percent to $108.91 million last year compared to $100.53 million in 2010. A county-by-county breakdown can be found here.

Sales tax collections declined in only two counties - Cattaraugus and Chautauqua, which fell by 1.7 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively. The comptroller's report noted that Chautauqua County reduced its tax rate from 3.75 percent to 3.5 percent in 2011. The strongest growth - 19 percent - was in Schuyler County, where collections were boosted by technical adjustments and purchases related to a concert festival and the effects of Tropical Storm Lee.

"The positive growth last year in sales tax collections are a good sign for the economy, but continued caution is warranted," DiNapoli said. "New York's economy has improved over the past two years, but growth has been sluggish and unevenly distributed throughout the state. The degree to which local governments depend on sales taxes varies, but it is an important source of revenue for many. As localities adjust to the property tax cap, more may turn to sales tax revenues to fill in budget gaps."

Every region in the state benefited from higher sales tax collections in 2011. The strongest growth was in the Southern Tier where purchases of goods and services to rebuild and repair damage caused by Tropical Storm Lee drove an 8.6 percent increase. The weakest growth was on Long Island with a 2.4 percent increase.

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