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COVID-19 leads to sharp drop in sales tax revenue


Among the budget pressures facing local governments is a sharp drop in sales tax revenue related to the coronavirus pandemic.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said that sales tax revenue for local governments fell by more than 32% in May compared to the same month a year ago.

He said the sharp decline in revenues was widespread in the state. In Monroe County, about $25 million in sales tax revenue was tallied, compared to around $39 million a year ago.

That’s a more than 36% drop. That loss of revenue hits local governments hard, since the money is used to help fund a variety of programs and services, and it’s one of the factors that Rochester city and Monroe County officials have been grappling with as they try to put together their budgets.

DiNapoli said that his office anticipated that sales tax revenues would continue to drop because of COVID-19, but he said the May sales tax figures show just how deep it’s cutting into municipal finances.

The comptroller called on the federal government to step up and provide financial help to states and local governments to help avoid severe cuts to critical services. 

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.