The third quarter saw an impressive increase in sales tax revenue for Jamestown.
According to Joe Bellitto, city comptroller, Jamestown will receive $1,606,975 for its third quarter 2012 sales tax payment. This is a $277,027, or a 20.83 percent increase, from the third quarter of 2011.
Following sub-par first and second quarter sales tax earnings, this puts Jamestown back on track to meet the budget goal for 2012. In order to reach the 2012 budget of $5,750,000 the city will need a fourth quarter sales tax payment of $1,383,123.
In the first quarter of 2012, Jamestown saw a $200,829 decrease from the first quarter of 2011. The positive third quarter has helped to offset the deficit caused by that decrease.
After the promising third quarter, Mayor Sam Teresi is planning to recommend an increase in the sales tax revenue projections for the 2013 city budget.
"We feel comfortable being able to bump that sales tax number in the 2013 budget," said Teresi. "I'll probably be recommending to the council that it would be safe to bump that up by about $100,000 from what I originally put in the 2013 budget. Unfortunately, we won't have a fourth quarter figure in from the county until after Feb. 1, 2013 and by that time the 2013 budget will be completed. It's all a bit of a gamble so you do the best you can to forecast, and our forecast is that it would be reasonable to add some money back into the sales tax line item."
According to Teresi, the increase in third quarter sales tax revenue can be attributed to two separate factors.
"First, I think it's a continued, not overly impressive, but steady improvement in economic activity," said Teresi. "I think we're seeing some renewed consumer confidence. It's not anything to write home about, but I think there is some steady, slow improvement in the economy."
The other factor that he attributes the increase to is the spike in fuel prices. While gasoline and diesel sales are consistently a big portion of the sales tax picture, Teresi believes that the price spike over the past three months helped to bolster the numbers even further.
"On one hand it was a terrible negative shot to the economy, but it also partially explains the slight uptick in sales tax revenues," said Teresi. "Now that prices are starting to subside again for all of the reasons that they do on a seasonal basis, that will have a corresponding impact on the fourth quarter sales tax revenue. We hope that impact can be offset by people getting in the holiday mood and doing some robust spending and spending locally whenever possible. When you spend local, you help support local jobs and take pressure off of property taxes."
With the holidays and the biggest shopping season of the year just around the corner, Mayor Teresi is optimistic about the final quarter of the year.
"It's a calculated gamble, raising the projected sales tax revenue for 2013," said Teresi. "Obviously we would prefer having information on all four quarters, but three quarters of information is still better than two. The fourth quarter figures won't be available until February of next year and by that time the 2013 budget will have been put away. We're happy to see these numbers and hopefully things will continue to trend like they did in the third quarter."