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Sales Tax Revenue on Record Upswing, Says Local Economist

Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 4:58 PM

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A local economist who acknowledges he’s known for his usually gloomy outlook has good news: Cuyahoga County’s sales tax revenue is on a record upswing. ideastream’s Joanna Richards has more.

Revenue has been up every month compared to the year before for 46 straight months, according to independent economist George Zeller.

“And that is extremely welcome, particularly given the huge declines that we previously had,” he said. “We had a big hole to dig out of.”

Zeller said just a few years ago, the Great Recession brought the worst-ever plunges in sales tax revenue.

The upward trend is good for local government, but it’s also a sign of overall economic improvement: people are spending more money.

But Zeller said there are still challenges. The county’s income from sales tax is still $28 million short of where it was at its peak in 2001. And there may be speed bumps ahead.

“We’re all very worried about the next several months, because the Federal Reserve is thinking of raising interest rates,” Zeller warned.

Even when delivering good news, he can’t help but include a few caveats.

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