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Sales tax numbers give counties confidence

The third-quarter results give the county a 3.97

The third-quarter results give the county a 3.97 percent growth in sales tax for the year to date, slightly higher than expected in County Executive Steve Bellone's proposed 2013 budget. (July 31, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau and Suffolk officials who have been buffeted by disappointing sales tax numbers say new third-quarter receipts give them confidence they will meet year-end and 2013 budget projections.

Suffolk officials say their Oct. 13 sales tax check represented a 14.5 percent increase over the third quarter last year. However, executive and legislative budget aides noted that the check skews the growth in sales tax revenue because it includes factors such as underpayments in past periods.

The third-quarter results give the county a 3.97 percent growth in sales tax for the year to date, slightly higher than expected in County Executive Steve Bellone's proposed 2013 budget.

Tim Sullivan, Nassau's deputy county executive for finance, said the county's sales tax revenue had grown 4.9 percent year-to-date, and that Nassau likely will end the year with $25 million to $30 million more in sales tax receipts than was budgeted. Sullivan said Nassau had projected only 2.9 percent growth in sales tax for 2012.

"We've had a solid year," said Sullivan. "We're reaching our projections and that bodes well for the future."

"We're cautiously optimistic," said Robert Lipp, deputy director of the Suffolk Office Budget Review. "We're a little ahead of the game."

Bellone's budget officials say Suffolk has brought in $847.3 million in sales tax so far this year, $32.3 million more than last year. In Nassau, Frank Maroney, chief deputy comptroller, said sales tax year-to-date totals $744 million, $35 million higher than the $709 million in 2011.

In his 2013 budget, Bellone scaled back sales tax projections, estimating the county would end the year with 3.85 percent growth; he forecast 3.75 growth next year.

"This number puts us in line with our projections and is a hopeful indication that we can meet our budgeted sales tax growth for 2013," Bellone said in a statement.

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