Fulton County sales tax figures skewed by solar project

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton County started the year being down by more than $400,000 in first quarter sales tax received, but new figures contrasted to last year might be skewed.

County Treasurer Terry Blodgett on Thursday released sales tax figures for the county and its municipalities for the first quarter of 2019.

Figures showed that overall total Fulton County sales tax distribution for the first quarter was about $5.01 million — a $407,205 decrease from about $5.42 million received a year ago for the first quarter of 2018.

Fulton County in recent years hasn’t had such dramatic drops in quarterly sales tax, and most quarters have risen.

Blodgett said he and his staff analyzed the situation, and chalked up “one of the reasons” for the hefty first quarter drop to one project that may have skewed numbers last year.

“What happened last year was a large solar project — $8 or $9 million,” the county treasurer said.

Some of the information related to sales tax — and where it is derived from — is kept anonymous by the state. The county itself can’t access exactly where sales tax comes from, but Blodgett said the solar project from 2018 was the reason for skewed, inflated numbers last year. He said that project probably added at least $360,000 to Fulton County’s sales tax receipts for the first quarter of 2018. He said he does not even know where the solar project is located within Fulton County.

Blodgett said that even though sales tax declined to start the new year, he’s not too concerned.

“Things are pretty stable right now,” he said.

He said car and internet sales in Fulton County continue to be fairly strong.

Other declines in sales tax throughout the county were reported with Blodgett’s first quarter report.

Total first quarter receipts for Fulton County government coffers alone decreased by $262,782. That total nosedived from about $3.75 million a year ago to $3.48 million for the first quarter of 2019.

Sales tax figures were not provided by Blodgett’s office for the county’s two cities.

Johnstown City Treasurer Michael Gifford on Friday reported an increase in sales tax for the city. He said the city received $938,392 for the first quarter of 2019, as opposed to $901,291 for the first quarter of 2018.

Gloversville Finance Commissioner Tammie Weiterschan on Friday reported first quarter figures in that city were down, from $1,178,439 a year ago to $1,022,975 for 2019.

Total first quarter sales tax distribution for the county’s towns and villages was down by $144,422 — from $1.67 million in 2018 to $1.52 million in 2019.

A first quarter breakdown by municipality, including the total received and the decreases across the board, follow:

Town of Bleecker, $57,995 — $7,290; town of Broadalbin, $195,454 — $9,944; village of Broadalbin, $38,073 — $2,759; village of Broadalbin portion in the town of Mayfield, $573 — $73; town of Caroga, $146,685 — $14,664; town of Ephratah, $53,764 — $2,314; town of Johnstown, $266,585 — $25,533; town of Mayfield, $258,507 — $33,281; village of Mayfield, $25,149 — $3,004; town of Northampton, $173,302 — $19,099; village of Northville, $51,000 — $5,648; town of Oppenheim, $56,246 — $2,753; village of Dolgeville portion in Fulton County, $2,565 — $150; town of Perth, $135,226 — $12,960; town of Stratford, $62,477 — $4,943.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.