There are emerging signs that Niagara Falls’ economy is recovering from its pandemic-induced recession.
City comptroller Dan Morello told Falls City Council members last week that the city’s share of county sales tax collections showed a solid improvement in 2021. While warning that the numbers he was reporting were unaudited and could be subject to change, Morello said sales tax revenue for the first five months of the year was 17% higher than during the same period of 2020.
Collections from January to May totaled $ 4.061 million, up from $ 3.475 million in the first five months of 2020. Collections are also higher than the non-pandemic year of 2019, when sales tax revenue from January to May were $ 3.672 million.
Morello noted that part of the increase was fueled by the collection of sales taxes on Internet transactions. This collection only started in the fall of 2020.
“Online activity is definitely positive,” he told board members.
Figures were mixed on the collection of HRU sales taxes (hotels, restaurants and utilities). Taxes represent the revenue that arises from transactions involving hotels and restaurants, in addition to utility bills.
As such, they can be a key indicator of the tourism sector of the local economy.
From January to May, HRU’s tax collections totaled $ 2.596 million, a jump of 7% from the $ 2.421 million collected during the same period in 2020. But the number is lower than the 2019 collections of $ 3.150 million for the same period.
The 17% drop from 2019 figures shows that tourism activity is returning, but slowly.
We are seeing improvement going forward, “said Morello.” I think the numbers show what we were hoping for. “
A positive sign of improving tourism in the city was captured by a check on parking meter revenues for the July 4 bank holiday weekend. With meters located almost exclusively in the tourist district of the South End, people paid $ 66,467 for curbside parking during the four-day weekend of July 2-5.
This compares to just $ 19,492 in parking meter revenue for the July 4, 2020 vacation. Even though the 2020 vacation only lasted three days, Morello called the revenue numbers “positive”, which was not. not audited and could be subject to change.
Both sets of numbers pale in comparison to the four public holidays of July 4, 2019, when parking meter revenues hit $ 84,340.
The city’s overall parking operations show growth from a devastating 2020, when the combination of revenue from the parking meters, the city’s parking ramp and its deals with local hoteliers only brought in 240,737. $.
Until June 14, the city’s parking operations accounted for $ 530,292, an increase of over 45%. But the number is significantly lower than the 2019 revenue collection of $ 1.010 million for the same period.