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Nazzaro Is Right – Sales Tax Likely To Come Up Short

We have learned over the years not to doubt Charles Nazzaro, D-Jamestown, when it comes to Chautauqua County’s budget.

So we took it to heart last week when Nazzaro told Jason Sample of WRFA-LP that the Jamestown legislator has concerns over the amount of sales tax County Executive PJ Wendel expects to receive in 2021. Nazzaro points to sales tax in 2020 that are 11% lower than the 2020 budgeted amount despite a recent rebound that includes increases in Internet sales tax receipts.

While Nazzaro is pessimistic the county will meet its sales tax projection in 2021, Wendel said sales tax receipts have picked up in recent months and is projecting that increase to continue into next year.

This would all be a moot point if the county had more money in its fund balance, but right now the county is at the bottom end of the state comptroller’s recommended fund balance. If Wendel is wrong about his sales tax projection, there is little money in the county’s savings account to dip into to balance the budget. The sales tax projection takes on additional importance, too, because no one knows if there will be COVID stimulus money coming from Congress.

We hope that Wendel is right, because sales tax receipts that come in at the 2021 projection mean the county’s economy is seeing a serious rebound from 2020’s COVID-19 doldrums. We’d prefer, though, that the sales tax projection be lowered to take into account a less-than-full economic recovery and then build the county’s budget from there.

As we said earlier, Nazzaro isn’t wrong often. Republicans would be smart to listen to the Jamestown Democrat now.

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