October 26, 2021

Sales tax revenue rises

But Cortland County’s 2020 increase still less than 2019

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

Jason Allen, left, a sales agent with Royal Auto Group in Cortlandville, opens the door to a new Chevy Equinox for its owner, Brianna Rosekrans of Moravia, with her boyfriend, Josh Todd. After the coronavirus pandemic closed auto assembly lines, sales picked up in the latter part of the year, leading to stable sales tax revenue for Cortland County.

Cortland County fared slightly better with sales tax revenue in 2020 than expected, bringing in almost $450,000 more than the county budgeted, although still down from 2019 sales tax revenue.

Agriculture, utilities, rail transportation and the retail industries, including auto sales, all saw increased sales tax revenue compared to 2019, said county Finance Director Andrea Herzog.

“2020 turned out to be a strong year,” Joe Reagan, the owner of Royal Auto Group, said Friday afternoon.

He said what helped was the expansion of the business in 2019.

“That yielded a lot of business and therefore a lot of sales tax revenue,” he said.

From people like Brianna Rosekrans of Moravia, who was at Royals’ Chevrolet lot on Friday picking up a new Chevy Equinox.

“I needed something bigger with allwheel drive,” Rosekrans said, particularly for her winter commute from Moravia to Ithaca. She had looked at Malibus and Impalas before settling on the compact SUV.

The county originally budgeted for $30.5 million for 2020, but came in at $30.95 million. However, that number is still 0.38% down from the revenue seen in 2019, which amounted to $31.07 million.

Herzog said sales tax revenue from restaurants, recreation, travel and gas sales came in lower than in 2019.

Regan said the first quarter of 2021 may be a little shaky but otherwise “we anticipate a strong year.” Many people have gotten used to the social distancing and mask guidelines and that is helping to keep the business moving forward.

However, Herzog said what will happen in 2021 with sales tax revenue is still anyone’s guess.

“While gas prices have increased, restaurants have been able to open and there is a vaccine available, there is no way to know what lies ahead and the effect it will have on sales tax,” she said.