By MORGAN FRISCH
Recorder News Staff

Montgomery County saw a 2.2 percent increase in sales tax revenues for 2016, compared to having the largest sales tax decrease in New York for 2015.

The final sales tax revenues numbers were released this week by the Office of the New York State comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

Revenue grew in 39 of the 57 counties outside of New York City.

County revenue figures were $27.8 million for 2016 and $21.2 million in 2015.

County Treasurer Shawn Bowerman said fourth quarter revenues are up by about $5,000 compared to 2015.

“In all aspects, it’s really flat,” he said. “But the good thing is, it didn’t go down because last year’s fourth quarter took a very large drop.”

In 2015, fourth quarter revenues decreased by 8.3 percent compared to the previous year. Bowerman said much of the revenue in the fourth quarter comes from the holiday season. So for 2016, people may have spent a little more money–which is a good thing.

” I believe now you are starting to see sales tax level out because there hasn’t been a lot of retail construction going on in the county,” Bowerman said. ” So you don’t have those real big sales tax generating items.”

He said often construction materials are taxable and if you see much new construction going on that’s a sales tax driver. The price of fuel is also a huge sales tax driver for the county.

“Unfortunately, as the price goes up, so does the sales tax we collect,” Bowerman said. “That’s a catch 22 there, for the people.”

Of the town’s, fourth-quarter revenues were up slightly from 2015. The town of Florida’s revenue increased from $207,623.67 to $216,992.99 and the town of Amsterdam increased from $335,402.45 to $339,148.03.

County Executive Matthew Ossenfort said “for 16, we were about $300,000 over what we budgeted.” The increase, he said, is good news and hopefully a sign things are headed in a better direction. Ossenfort mentioned that the 2.2 percent increase happened while gas prices remained low. He said gas prices and residents having more discretionary funds to spend reflects sales tax figures.

“Hopefully with unemployment down and new private sector job growth it will continue to push the needle in a positive direction,” he said.

Ossenfort said he doesn’t think the county is completely out of the woods yet.

“We want to keep a close eye on it,” he said. ” But, at least it’s moving in the right direction and hopefully we can have a bigger increase for 2017.”