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Sales tax revenues jump in 2012 in St. Lawrence County

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By STEVE VIRKLER

CANTON - Three north country counties once again saw a spike in sales tax receipts in 2012, with each surpassing budget projections.

Sales tax revenue for the three counties in 2012:

St. Lawrence County, with a 3 percent sales tax rate, received $41.96 million, up 1.81 percent from $41.21 million in 2011.

Jefferson County, with a 3.75 percent sales tax rate, received $72.54 million, up 5.25 percent from $68.92 million in 2011.

Lewis County, with a 3.75 percent sales tax rate, received $10.05 million, up 2.44 percent from $9.81 million in 2011.

Municipalities in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties also saw a benefit from the increased collections, as those counties distribute a percentage of sales tax receipts to their cities, towns and villages. Lewis County retains all its receipts for county government operations.

St. Lawrence County exceeded the amount it budgeted for overall sales tax receipts — $41.2 million — by more than $750,000.

However, Finance Committee Chairman Frederick S. Morrill, D-DeKalb Junction, said the final numbers still fell a bit short of the $42.1 million he had been hoping for.

“I’m disappointed the total is not up more,” Mr. Morrill said. “But it didn’t go down.”

Mr. Morrill, the chief financial officer at the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, said he based his expectations on increased traffic crossing the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge.

“That’s an indicator for me,” he said.

St. Lawrence County again budgeted $41.2 million in 2013.

“I’m comfortable with it,” Mr. Morrill said. “I think we budgeted conservatively, but wisely.”

St. Lawrence County receipts were up $317,524, or 3.06 percent in the fourth quarter, a period when many are purchasing more than usual because of Christmas.

Despite a slight drop in fourth-quarter receipts, stemming from payments to the counties between September and December, strong numbers earlier in the year allowed Jefferson County to easily exceed its budgeted amount.

That county will retain $34.1 million from 2012 proceeds for its own operation, but budgeted for only $33 million.

Lewis County also finished the year at more than $1 million over budget, having anticipated only $9 million in receipts.

Lewis County leaders bumped projected receipts up to $9.5 million in the 2013 budget after seeing strong numbers through the first three quarters of 2012.

St. Lawrence County receipts were up $317,524, or 3.06 percent in the fourth quarter, a period when many are purchasing more than usual because of Christmas.

Staff writers Martha Ellen and Daniel Flatley contributed to this report.

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