November 4, 2012

Editorial: Sales tax: our great ally

Some people would say that Canadians shopping in and around Plattsburgh is simply the same old song. But, when their dollar is at par with our own, it’s real music to our ears. And the numbers show it.

Clinton County Treasurer Joseph Giroux reported to county legislators recently that, for September alone, the amount of money the county received in sales tax was $1 million more than expected. For the entire year so far, revenue is up $3.4 million more than the budget called for.

And the most lucrative time of the year hasn’t even arrived yet. The Christmas shopping season awaits, when the wallets and pocketbooks will really be unleashed. In a time of economic uncertainty from coast to coast, one thing the North Country can surely count on is a huge fiscal infusion from north of the nearby border.

It has always been that way. In the worst of times, the North Country has a buffer against national upheavals, and that buffer is Canada.

When the American dollar is valued above the Canadian, local tourists enjoy the benefits of spending time in Canada because their money is worth more when paying hotel and dining bills in Montreal; we have more Canadian money from the exchange. When the value swings the other way, we may not derive much of a deal in Montreal, but Canadians realize a terrific boon in coming down here.

When the dollars are at par, cheaper prices in the United States translate into significant enough savings for Montrealers to attract them down to take a look.

Clinton County Legislature Finance Committee Chairwoman Sara Rowden noted, too, that Vermonters have been seen shopping here in greater numbers, which she attributed to the presence of Target, which they do not have.

If that is the case, it proves the point that a healthy economy is a varied economy — the greater the menu of stores available in an area, the greater the lure the community becomes to outside dollars.

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