WPCNR QUILL & EYESHADE. From the New York State Department of Taxation & Finance. Observation and Analysis by John F. Bailey. December 4, 2023:
The City of White Plains has collected $18,581,270 in sales tax receipts the first four months of its fiscal year, compared to %18,921,084 in the first 4 months of the city 2022 fiscal year.
The city is actually down 1.7%. The city has to hope for a big-time November-December to catch up. At this rate the city is looking at a $46 Million sales tax handle which would create hole in the city budget due to the practice of taking $5.2 million in restricted sales tax use to pay raises in salaries. This may need to be dealt with as the city takes up the 2023-24 budget. The city may already be looking ahead, considering doubling of parking rates in high volume city parking lots and a rise in fines in city-owned garages.
Last November December, White Plains collected $9,918,562 in sales tax. If they meet that figure the city is sitting on $28.9 Million in sales tax for the first 6 months of the city 22022-23 fiscal year. If the city sees the continued trend in sales tax collections not matching inflation or if the rate of staying flat continues, it is going to be tough to make the additional $5.2 million budgeted in 23-24 for the restricted sales payment.
Here’s what the trend looks like right now for White Plains NY, USA after comparing the trends over the last year:
If the city in the next 6 months of the fiscal year does not top the collected January 2023 to June 2023 the city will make exactly $46.1 in fiscal 23-24. Worse if it continues to decline or stay flat the city will make less and may have to get the restricted sales tax contribution by either raising other sources of revenue. They will not get the $50 million in sales taxes they just barely made last year.
A decline in November December sales tax numbers for 2022 would be a bad omen. But that has rarely happened.
If White Plains receives a November December rush this will ease the things a lot. Why, because if spending continues at the Jan-June spending rate, White Plains will hit $56,417 ,762 and the city will have its $5.2 million for restricted fund balance plus a $6 Million surplus in sales tax revenues
The City of White Plaines received $27,917,930 in sales taxes from January 2023 through June 2023. If that stays the same, the city will gross $56,471, 762
WHITE PLAINS AND WESTCHESTER JUNE 2023 WERE APPROXIMATELY EVEN IN SALES TAX COLLECTION RECEIPTS COMPARED TO JUNE 2022 LAST YEAR. WHITE PLAINS WENT UP 1% AFTER THE FIRST 6 MONTHS OF 2023. AND HIT $50.7 MILLION FOR THE 2021-22 FISCAL.
What does this tell us? Neither White Plains nor Westchester consumers have come back to previous sales tax driving behavior. City and County have not even experience increases from inflation.
The lagging sales tax receipts in the city has to be concerning because it may reflect a lack of patronage in the city restaurants, a lack of traffic in the city ‘s two remaining shopping malls, The Westchester and the City Center that lost its movie theatres last spring.
Failure of to receive any boost from the inflation rate year to year cumulatively reported as 3.5% by the government, including food and fuel, has to be of concern.
Meanwhile Westchester County, is again facing the effect of another overoptimistic sales tax receipts forecast. Last year the county met the sales tax gap by using fund balance to pay for the gap, and used covid aid to replace the transfer of fund balance.
The County: Behind Sales Receipts, $24 Million
The County projected $913 Million in sales tax for 2023, guessing the full 1% sales tax increase would bring a windfall plus inflation. The County so faR according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance has collected $ 728,953,551 in sales taxes and if they collect the same amount in November-December they did last year without a huge increase the county will receive $889.2 Million with $913 Million budgeted for sales tax – approximately a $24 Million gap.
If there were a 5% increase in the November-December County sales tax holiday handle over last year, the handle would rise $8 Million raising sales tax receipts for the year to 897 Million. Not enough.T If the Nov December handle rises 10%, that gives the county $16 million more dollars and essentially erases the $24 Million deficit the county is now running.
The County is crossing its fingers.