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Sales tax revenues rise in Erie County

erie county hall.jpg

Erie County's sales tax collections are running ahead of budget, a good sign as the county fiscal year nears its fourth quarter.

Sales tax is the single largest source of cash for the county, last year reaching more than $400 million for the first time.

A lot of that cash arrives in loonies and toonies from Ontario, as shoppers come across the Niagara River to take advantage of lower taxes and often larger store stocks.

County Comptroller David Shenk says the county has taken in $230 million in sales tax in the first seven months of the year. That is an increase of more than 3 percent while the budget projects 2.5 percent.

Shenk says the tax gathers cash from Ontario shoppers and new car buyers.
"When it comes to the auto sales, I think that's always been a part of it. I think what also comes to gasoline, when it comes to retail," Shenk said. "These numbers are only through July and obviously a lot of your back-to-school shopping hasn't been included yet."

Because Albany collects the tax, it takes a while for the check for the county share to arrive here.

Shenk says Christmas shopping will likely keep sales tax collections well above the amount budgeted for this year.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.