Potsdam anticipates drop in sales tax revenue amidst health crisis
Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - 7:02 am

BY CRAIG FREILICH
North Country This Week

POTSDAM -- The Village of Potsdam is anticipating a drop in sales tax revenues as a result of diminished business activity during the health crisis, and the state comptroller is concerned about revenue too.

Also at Monday’s meeting, a board member prompted a discussion of asking our state legislators to see that state sales taxes, along with the local share of them, are collected during online sales and distributed appropriately.

At the Board of Trustees meeting Monday, March 16, Village Clerk/Treasurer Lori Queor noted that business in the village is down already and is likely to be reduced even more as the COVID-19 crisis continues.

That will mean lower sales tax revenues in this quarter and the coming quarter probably to a point where it will be lower than the revenues anticipated in the current village budget.

Trustee Steve Warr asked board members if “we can reach out to our state legislators” to enforce the collection of sales taxes for online purchases that include the 4% county local share, and that that share be distributed to municipalities in the county.

“We’re losing all the online sales, where the market is today,” Warr said. “We seem to be losing all that.”

The consensus of the board seemed to be that it was worth pursuing with Sen. Joseph Griffo and Assemblyman Mark Walczyk, who represent Potsdam in Albany.

Meanwhile New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli on Tuesday issued a lengthy letter he had sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo warning him that due to the dip in the economy projected because of the coronavirus crisis, he estimates “tax revenues will be at least $4 billion below projections of $87.9 billion in the Executive Budget” that the governor released earlier this month. That’s on top of the $4 billion shortfall estimated at the time the budget proposal was announced.

“However, given deteriorating conditions and the potential likelihood of a deep recession in the coming fiscal year, one alternative scenario suggests that tax revenues in SFY 2020-21 could be more than $7 billion below the Executive Budget forecast,” DiNapoli said.

Gov. Cuomo had requested DiNapoli examine the revenue projection that the Governor and State Legislature agreed to on March 1 before they adopt a new budget, which is due April 1, the comptroller said.

“To the extent that these funds are not needed for originally anticipated purposes, or that such purposes may be less than essential, certain additional resources may reasonably be available for the coming year,” 2021, DiNapoli said.