Retail

Clinton County sales tax still way up

By: JOE LoTEMPLIO

PLATTSBURGH — Sales-tax revenue for Clinton County continues to rise as the final quarter of the year, traditionally the strongest quarter, kicks in.

“It’s great to see it continue to go up and it makes budgeting for us easier, but we still have to be very careful,” said Legislator Sara Rowden (D-Area 4, Town of Plattsburgh), who chairs the county’s Finance Committee.

County Treasurer Joseph Giroux told legislators at Wednesday’s Finance Committee meeting that sales-tax revenue for the county was up $3,167,157 from projections through September.

The $25,057,047 collected so far is also up about $1.3 million from last year at the same time.

Rowden said she believes the increase is attributed directly to Canadians visiting from Quebec.

“I think the big population center in Montreal being so close really helps us,” Rowden said.

“And we have a lot to offer.”

The Canadian dollar has been strong in recent years, but Rowden said she believes the marketing campaign conducted by the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau is the main reason why more Canadians are visiting the area.

The Visitors Bureau is funded by the 3 percent occupancy tax that was implemented in 2007.  The tax is charged to the sale of every hotel and motel room in the county and is used to market the area, especially the many fishing tournaments held on Lake Champlain each year.

“That committee has done a great job of marketing this area to Canadians and we are seeing that it is now paying off in a big way with the sales tax,” she said.

Rowden also said that the local economy seems to have perked up a bit this year, which also helps the sales-tax numbers.

“We’ve seen companies like Nova Bus and Bombardier get new contracts and that helps, and reflects some changes in the economy,” she said.

Nova Bus received a contract in May to produce 300 buses with an option for another 150 for the Chicago Transit Authority. The deal could be worth up to $221.3 million for the Town of Plattsburgh company.

The company also received a deal for 16 buses for the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority worth about $7 million.

Bombardier, a railcar manufacturer in the City of Plattsburgh, is undergoing a $26 million expansion.

While sales-tax revenue has been strong so far this year, legislators are excited that they still have the final quarter to look forward to. The final quarter of each year has been the strongest for the past decade as more sales are typically made during the holiday seasons.

“There seems to be a good feel in the air and a lot of energy in the county that hasn’t been there for awhile,” Rowden said.

The sales-tax revenue is shared by the county with the City of Plattsburgh and all the towns and villages. Each municipality gets a portion based on population.

The City of Plattsburgh’s share of the sales-tax revenue is up $375,002 so far for the year.

Mayor Donald Kasprzak said the money will certainly help with the city budget.

“With continued health care, retirement, benefit and personnel costs coupled with the generous fire-union arbitration award ($1.1 million for retroactive pay for 2008 and 2009), the increased sales-tax figure is great news and will help the 2014 budget,” he said.

“We can only hope this extra revenue will be spent wisely by the new mayor and council.”

Kasprzak presented his 2014 budget proposal to the council last week. The plan features a 2.3 percent increase in the tax levy, the maximum allowed under the state tax cap.

The current council and the council that is elected in the Nov. 5 election will make adjustments to the budget plan before it is adopted Jan. 9.

Email Joe LoTemplio:jlotemplio@pressrepublican.com

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