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Clinton Co. makes sales-tax progress

By: By JOE LoTEMPLIO

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Sales-tax revenue for Clinton County continues to lag behind projections for the year, but it is going in the right direction.

"We are climbing out of a hole that in January was a little bit scary," said County Legislator Mark Dame (R-Area 8, City and Town of Plattsburgh), chairman of the county's Finance Committee.

Sales-tax revenue has been a boon for the county the past decade, with final numbers consistently exceeding projected figures.

Last year, the county finished nearly $3.6 million to the good, bolstering the general fund.

CATCHING UP

This year, however, legislators grew concerned when January figures showed the county was about $309,000 behind projections.

Progress has been made since then.

The $309,000 projected deficit has been cut significantly, to the point where the difference at the end of April was down to $107,323.

County Treasurer Kimberly Davis said the total revenue so far is only about $2.4 million behind where the county predicted it would be at the end of May.

Typically, the county takes in more than $2.4 million in May.

"I am confident we will be back up to projections or better," she said.

CANADIAN DOLLAR

Davis said another factor is that small businesses report their sales-tax figures at the end of each quarter, and she expects another boost at the end of June, when the next quarter ends.

Although the Canadian dollar is not quite as strong as it has been the past few years, Davis and Dame believe it is still a bargain for Canadians who want to shop here.

As of Tuesday, the Canadian dollar was worth 92 cents in the United States. 

In recent years, it had been valued at more than a U.S. dollar.

The summer tourist season for Canadians typically kicks off with Victoria Day weekend, which is this coming weekend, and Dame said that will be a good indicator of what is to come.

"The summer months should tell us what the sales-tax picture might look like for the rest of the year, and I am pretty confident that it will continue trending in the right direction," he said.

BED TAX UP

While sales-tax revenue lags behind, occupancy tax for the county is comfortably ahead of pace.

In the first quarter of this year, the county took in $95,633 from the 3 percent occupancy tax on hotel and motel stays, which was nearly $600 more than the first quarter last year.

"I think that the occupancy tax is ahead of pace is a good sign that Canadians are still coming here and will continue the rest of the year," Dame said.

Email Joe LoTemplio: jlotemplio@pressrepublican.com

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