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St. Lawrence County sales tax receipts on the increase

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CANTON — St. Lawrence County received $43.5 million in sales tax for 2013, an increase of 3.6 percent over the previous year.

“That’s more than we projected,” said Legislator Frederick S. Morrill, D-DeKalb Junction, chairman of the Board of Legislator’s Finance Committee. “That’ll help the fund balance.”

The county joined Lewis County in showing an increase, but Jefferson County lost sales tax revenue.

In Lewis County, the state collected $416,963.50 more in 2013 than in 2012, when receipts were at $10.1 million, for an increase of 4.15 percent.

In Jefferson County, sales tax dropped 1.62 percent from $72.6 million to $71.4 million.

St. Lawrence County collected $1.5 million more in 2013 than the previous year. The figure included receipts for December, when the combined state and county sales tax increased from 7 percent to 8 percent.

The county had budgeted it would receive $42.1 million for 2013, but had hoped the final figure would be closer to $43 million. For 2014, the county hopes to see sales tax of $58.5 million after a full year of the increased rate.

The additional revenue for 2013 is encouraging, Mr. Morrill said.

“I think the economy is better,” he said. “I think it bodes well.”

Mr. Morrill could not point to any particular reason why sales tax increased.

Canadian shoppers in the county usually figure heavily in sales tax revenue, but Mr. Morrill, the deputy executive director of the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, said traffic across the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge has recently been flat and weather in December may have discouraged travel. Over 12 months, traffic over the Ogdensburg bridge and the Seaway International Bridge in Massena was up 4.4 percent.

However, the U.S. dollar is strengthening, which could prompt Canadian shoppers to cut back on cross-border trips.

Mr. Morrill said he has heard anecdotal reports from car dealers that sales were good in 2013.

“That’s a big driver of sales tax,” he said.

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