County sales tax revenue dropped 8.5%, or $11 million, from $131 million in 2019 to $120 million for the same period in 2020, according to Dutchess County Comptroller Robin Lois, the chief accounting and auditing officer of the county.
Dutchess has the 12th largest drop in sales tax revenue for the period of January through August 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.
“These drops are a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the mandatory closing or limitations of many businesses from March until August of 2020,” said Lois. “Most businesses in the state currently can operate at some capacity; I’m hopeful that, short of a second shut down, the worst of the sales tax hits are behind us.”
Economists expect sales tax collections to remain lower until the economy fully recovers, which could take years.
Sales tax is the largest source of revenue for Dutchess County, accounting for 41.1% of 2020’s total budgeted revenue, or $211 million of $514 million total budget. Over the past decade, Dutchess County’s sales tax revenue as a percentage of total revenue has increased from 32% in 2010 to 40% in 2019.
Towns and cities will also be impacted by this loss of revenue, due to a sales tax sharing agreement signed in 2013. While the towns and cities are guaranteed a baseline payment of $25 million according to the agreement, municipalities have often depended upon additional “growth payments” – which totaled over $7.8 million in 2019 – in order to ease financial pressures they are facing. With $11 million in lost sales tax revenue, growth payments would be reduced by nearly a third.
“It is imperative we all do our part, continue to be diligent, and support the social distancing and mask-wearing initiatives that are in place to keep us safe, and has helped keep Dutchess County COVID cases low,” urged Lois. “A resurgence and another shut down will undoubtedly strain our businesses and our county finances to a point we do not want to see.”