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St. Lawrence County sales tax figures up $300,000 this quarter

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By BRIAN AMARAL

CANTON - St. Lawrence County officials say sales tax revenues were up nearly $300,000 from the same time period last year.

Lewis County, meanwhile, saw a slight decrease in its sales tax revenue in the first quarter of 2012 over last year’s figures, but it was the unexpected weather forecast that left revenue forecasts wanting.

“My guess is that we just didn’t have a very good winter season,” said County Treasurer Patricia L. O’Brien.

Lewis County received $2,264,032.26 in first-quarter sales tax revenues. That’s a $29,116, or 1.3 percent drop from the first quarter of 2011.

Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties both saw increases in sales tax revenue. The strength of the Canadian dollar and high fuel prices have helped county coffers, and officials are hopeful that a recent tax cut for clothing and an easing on restrictions for Canadian shoppers well help boost sales taxes even more.

“We don’t have final numbers yet,” said Kevin M. Felt, St. Lawrence County treasurer. “We just got the last check this morning, but the numbers are up over all.”

In the first quarter of this year, St. Lawrence County took $10,094,382 in sales tax revenue, up $296,000 from the same period in 2011, when the county took in $9,798,576 in revenue.

Mr. Felt said the increase could be attributed to a recovering economy, but that most of the increase could be attributed to Canadians crossing the border to take advantage of lower prices in the county.

“Up here, I think you’re seeing people starting to spend money again,” he said. “We’re seeing a major presence from the Canadian border, people are coming across to spend money.”

Mr. Felt said that eased regulations and tariffs on what Canadian shoppers can bring back across the border could lead to further increase in the next quarter.

“We’ll see more impacts from fewer restrictions at the border, for sure,” he said.

After distributing sales tax money to municipalities like the city and town of Watertown, Jefferson County collected $7.6 million. That’s a 5.8 percent increase from the 2011 figure.



Staff writers Chris Robbins and Steve Virkler contributed to this story.

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