The Putnam Examiner

Sales Tax Revenue, Foreclosures and Unemployment Up in Putnam County

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Putnam COunty SealIt was a mixed bag of economic news in Putnam County for the first two months of 2013.

Putnam Commissioner of Finance William Carlin announced Tuesday night at the legislature’s Audit Committee meeting that sales tax collected by the county for January 2013 was $4,030,000, up $250,000 from the same time last year.

In February, sales tax collected totaled $3.3 million, an increase of $153,000 from February 2012. So far, for 2013, sales tax revenue was up $400,000 over the first two months of 2012.

In addition, the number of foreclosures reported in January 2013 in Putnam was 49, up 31 from January of last year.  And, in February 2013, there were 28 foreclosures in Putnam County, up 13 from the same time the year before.

“It’s a shame, I hate to see this happen to people–losing their homes,” said Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra, “Hopefully the economy will turn around a little bit and this won’t be an issue.”

Legislator Roger Gross agreed, saying, “One is too many. But that’s really a surprising number.  It’s almost a doubling from February of last year to February this year. So things aren’t really in that much better shape.”

Legislator Dini LoBue announced the county’s unemployment rate was 9.4 percent . LoBue estimated that the actual figure is more likely around 10 percent due to many long-term unemployed residents no longer seeking benefits.

County Legislator Sam Oliverio lamented the overall economic conditions in his town, Putnam Valley, “Many people in my town have lived there all their lives and are now seniors.  They paid their mortgages off and they’re getting killed by the taxes, specifically school taxes which have escalated 120 percent over the past five years. Young couples coming in don’t buy those homes, so these seniors on fixed incomes and other people just getting fired and unemployed have no choice but to walk away from them.”

LoBue added, “It’s a perfect storm, energy costs are through the roof, school taxes are really difficult.  It’s almost impossible to qualify for a mortgage and banks are not lending money to small businesses.”

In addition to the figures released, Carlin also informed shocked lawmakers that the Governor’s budget for 2014 does not include the automatic extension of Putnam’s four percent sales tax rate.

“If we lose that,” said Carlin. “We could lose about $12 million a year in county revenue and that could require significant cuts in county services or significant property tax increases.”

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