WPCNR QUILL & EYESHADE. By John F. Bailey. Data New York State Department of Taxation & Finance, February 25, 2020:
Westchester County sales tax receipts increased 37% in January over the January of 2018. ($63,836,271 last month compared to 2018 $46,716,3810.
It was the first full month of the county’s 1% increase sales tax increase at the start of the county 2020 fiscal year. The 37% increase, if it is maintained the next 11 months on average would easily beat the 27% increase for the year prognosticated by the County Budget creators.
WPCNR asked the Department of Taxation & Finance if the euphoric result was based on unusual internet sales taking place just before Christmas and not reported until January.
WPCNR also asked if internet sales were up robustly throughout the metropolitan area and the state in January.
WPCNR also inquired if this was a single correction by the Department reflecting previous errors or miscalculations. WPCNR awaits the state, and perhaps the county explanation.
We await an explanation for this windfall.
If this county record is due to all internet action up close to Christmas, it is very good news for the county coffers and politicians looking to increase budget spending.
However, is extremely grim for cities and towns with empty retail storefronts, mall projects depending on in-person shopping, and casts a sense of apprehension about the high hopes for ballyhooed and wooed, mixed-use residential projections going up across the county, developers are trying to build.
The most increases in sales tax receipts the county has received in month-to- month over the last 25 years have been in the 5% with the largest swings being 10% range.
If this unprecedented spending continues at the 30% rate, the county would earn $850,000,000 in sales tax receipts, $748 Million is budgeted.
This one month explosion may slowdown considerably but Mr. and Mrs. White Plains and Westchester, if this windfall continues to hum, could easily expect a substantial tax cut in the 2021 budget. I suspect this is the internet last minute rush contributing to the record January. But someone in Albany should figure this out. Towns, cities, governments need to know.
WHITE PLAINS Comeback
White Plains had a great month, too, experiencing its second straight $5,000,000 sales tax receipts month. With $5,830,213 recorded in December, and $5,084,046 in January beating last January receipts ($4,576,957) or 12.8% is wonderfully ahead of White Plains last fiscal year after 7 months.
Through January fiscal 19-20, White Plains has increased sales tax revenues 9.1% $32,041,109 compared to $29,364,954 after 7 months of fiscal 18-19
Should White Plains earn the same tax receipts they did last year, the city will collect $20,778,513 and added to the $32,041,109 collected after the first 7 months, the city will finish with $52,819,622 in sales tax receipts, and perhaps even more. The city will love this because the sweat over the sales dollars is always a worry. We have barely made it the last few years. 2019-20 looks very as we turn the corner.
Is it the internet? Is it car sales? Is it more bar receipts?
The state needs to break down sales tax receipts and the distribution in much more detail and by demographic category by type of business. Cities can plan better and know when they are setting a development course that may or may not work because there is not information spelling out what is being bought in every city and where the growth in consumer tastes, methods of shopping, pace of shopping are going.
Right now cities and towns in Westchester and across the site are flying their budgets and planning through financial storms and fronts without instruments which can be readily developed on economic activity in much more detail, if the state wanted to do it.