Gallagher hints at surplus as sales tax pours in

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KINGSTONUlster County Comptroller March Gallagher has released the 2021  Second Quarter Financial Report. Second-quarter financials show that the County continues to enjoy historic growth rates in sales and occupancy tax collections while reductions in the county workforce reduced year-to-date expenditures. 

The County recognized $179 million, or 53.6%, of budgeted revenues by the close of the second quarter,  $20 million more than the same period in 2020. Sales tax windfalls indicate that this revenue source will more than likely exceed budgeted values for the year. Occupancy Tax collected reached historic levels in the second quarter when collections reached $1.3 million exceeding last year’s collections for the same period by nearly 200%. Revenues do not include the $17.2 million in American Recovery Plan funds received in the second quarter awaiting spending as capital projects. 

Ulster County’s foreclosure auction held for the first time virtually on June 11, 2021, brought in anticipated proceeds of $1.95 million, exceeding the $1.6 million owed in back taxes on the eighty properties sold.  

Spending in the second quarter of 2021 showed a $6 million decrease compared to 2020 figures. This reduction was primarily due to a reduction in Personal Services and Employee Benefits, as the County saw planned workforce attrition and a major retirement incentive implemented in the first quarter. 

Ulster County continues to experience a regionally aligned economy including much lower unemployment  (5.2%) compared to the same time last year (12.4%). Consumer prices continue to increase, especially energy prices which have jumped 17% for the region as of July 2021. The housing economy continues to favor sellers with increased prices. Reduced inventory has exacerbated the rental market and 14.9% of  Ulster County renters are estimated to be in arrears. Only 55 renters received back rent assistance and 46  renters received prospective rent assistance through the Emergency Rental Assistance Fund from the  CARES act.