WILTON — Town officials are closely monitoring increases in online sales for potential impacts on Wilton retailers.
Wilton Supervisor Arthur Johnson and Comptroller Jeffrey Reale said this week that they have noticed a drop in town revenues generated by sales taxes in local businesses.
“Internet sales are going to go up and local retailers are going to strug- gle,” predicted Supervisor Johnson.
According to Reale, Saratoga County collects and distributes all revenue from the 7 percent sales tax in local stores. The county then uses a formula that allocates 1.5 percent to both the town and county and 4 percent to New York state, he said.
In a recent audit of the town’s 2016 finances conducted by the Latham firm Cusack and Company, Wilton reportedly earned more than $5.8 million from retail sales taxes.
It was the largest source of revenue last year for the town, which does not levy a property tax on residents. The next largest source is $900,000 from the state.
Annual sales tax revenue in Wilton has increased steadily from $4 million in 2007, Reale indicated.
Johnson said roughly 30 percent of that sales tax revenue is derived from Wilton Mall businesses alone.
In addition, Johnson explained that he makes it a priority for the Town of Wilton to never spend more than it earns. The town’s total yearly budget exceeds $8.2 million.
The sales tax figures are monitored every month, Reale said, and the first several months of 2017 showed signs of a noticeable decrease.
“If that’s the trend, we’re seeing it,” Reale offered. “That could prove to be very detrimental to many municipalities.”
Both town leaders pointed to related developments during passage of the state budget.
Early last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had proposed imposing a new tax on Internet sales, but Senate Republicans apparently rejected that idea.
“State Senate Republicans caved to the clichéd histrionics and whining of out-of-state dot-coms worth billions of dollars and ignored the real concerns of brick-and-mortar stores struggling in their own districts,” argued Ted Potrikus, president of the Retail Council of New York state, in a statement dated April 9.
“So the next time they call us to ask why this-or-that store closed in their district or why they can’t attract stores to their dwindling downtowns,” Potrikus added, “we’ll remind them of their vote today.”