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City of Watertown sales tax revenue declines in second quarter

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With the decline in sales tax receipts in Jefferson County, City Comptroller James E. Mills said Wednesday that the city’s sales tax revenues are down $120,071, or 1.32 percent, for the second quarter, compared with the same time a year ago.

The budgeted amount is also down $568,764, or 5.97 percent, Mr. Mills said. Jefferson County’s sales tax revenues were down for the fifth straight quarter.

While the city budgeted a modest 3 percent gain in the 2013-14 budget, Mr. Mills said, he was still dismayed by the numbers.

“We did not expect to see anything this significant,” he said.

While Mr. Mills said he did not know why they were down again, Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham surmised they might be attributed to the Dec. 21 ice storm and other winter weather before Christmas that kept shoppers away from retailers. He also was not optimistic about January and February improving, since they are typically weak months for sales tax revenues.

If the trend continues, the city should look at some long-range planning and assess whether sales tax revenues can sustain current city staff levels, the mayor said. The topic will be discussed during the budget session this spring.

“Everything will be looked at,” Mr. Mills said.

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