Sales tax revenue for local governments in New York dropped by 5.2% last month compared to the previous year, according to State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.
Albany County Executive Dan McCoy says the state’s shutdown of businesses and the economy early on in the pandemic still has a ripple effect and is expected to continue for the next few years.
“Our Times Union, the Capital Center, The Egg, the Palace Theater just had to lay people off,” said McCoy, a Democrat. “When we had that small recession (in 2009) and it moved that needle going forward back then. It’s the same thing next year, that’s what I tell everyone. 2021 scares me, but 2022 scares the hell out of me.”
The slightly good news is that the decline seen last month slowed compared to previous months earlier in the year.
For some counties, such as Dutchess County, there was actually an increase in local sales tax revenue in October.
But County Executive Marc Molinaro says, overall, they will still come in below their budgeted estimate for the entire year and like most local governments around the state, they are looking to the federal government for assistance.
“Whether it’s the loss of revenue or the increase in costs, the challenge is great, but most counties worked very hard to restrict the spending so that we could whether the storm,” said Molinaro, a Republican. “We can’t do that without state or federal assistance.”
With the continued increase of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, many are wondering if a second wave shutdown is on the horizon.
States like New Mexico, Oregon, and California are already implementing a two-week shutdown of non-essential businesses. A few New York City lawmakers are also calling for partial shutdowns to specific businesses such as restaurants, bars, and gyms.
But would the state be able to handle a second shutdown without federal aid?
“The short answer is no,” Molinaro said bluntly. “The federal government has to summon the courage and the decency to do its job. No way should Americans and American taxpayers bail out municipalities for waste, fraud, or abuse. But the federal government through its emergency response powers has to give us the resources to meet the challenge.”
“The fact that we didn’t get anything before this election and now we’re going to have to wait and see what happens going forward ... people need relief on all levels like never before,” McCoy said.
The governor’s chief advisor says they have no plans to initiate a statewide shut down and they are encouraged by the state’s micro-cluster strategy.