County officials say the boost could ease some of their financial woes as they grapple with how to fund mandated programs while staying below the state-mandated property tax cap.
Ontario County’s second largest source of revenue is on the way up.
The county’s portion of sales tax collected in the third quarter of 2012 has increased about 2 percent compared to the third quarter of 2011, from $8.9 million to $9.1 million, according to Director of Finance Catherine Bentzoni. Sales tax is second only to property taxes as a revenue source for the county, making up 18 percent of total revenue in the county’s proposed 2013 budget, she said.
“I think it’s a good sign for the economy,” Bentzoni said. “For the county, of course, any time we can get more revenue than we’d expected, we like to have it.”
The county’s portion of sales tax for the year through the third quarter is also up about 5 percent, from $24.7 million in 2011 to $26 million in 2012, she said.
“For the trend to be upward is very important for the county,” Bentzoni said. “It means we won’t have to raise taxes to compensate, if the sales tax had gone down.”
The news comes as the county prepares to adopt its proposed 2013 budget following a workshop and public hearing Nov. 15. County officials have been grappling with how to fund mandates, which make up nearly 90 percent of the proposed 2013 tax levy, while putting together a budget that does not exceed the state-mandated property tax cap.
“Because of the tax cap, the more sales tax we get...the easier it will be to be within the tax cap and continue to provide services,” said Dorothy Huber, East Bloomfield supervisor and chair of the county’s Financial Management Committee.
The proposed 2013 total budget of $214,950,179, which equates to a 2.57 percent increase from the 2012 budget of $209,562,248, includes a tax levy of $51,000,042, a 3.19 percent increase from 2012, said Bentzoni. The proposed tax rate is up 6 cents from 2012 to $6.29 per $1,000 assessed value. The proposed plan does not exceed the tax cap.
Huber said the increase in sales tax in the third quarter doesn’t necessarily indicate that the economy has fully recovered, but it is a positive sign.
“I think the economy isn’t degrading any further,” she said. “I think there’s some improvement in people’s willingness to spend.”