Weeks after wrapping up fiscal year 2017, projections show that Leesburg exceeded its own expectations in terms of revenue.
Clark Case, the town’s director of Finance and Administrative Services, appeared before the Town Council on Monday with a fiscal year end look at 2017.
“This report contains a lot of very good news,” he summarized.
General Fund revenues exceeded estimates by $1.7 million, he said, which will be transferred to the town’s unassigned fund balance. Much of that is owed to higher-than-anticipated revenues from sales tax, meals tax, and Transient Occupancy Tax. These types of taxes are difficult to predict, and town staff tends to project them conservatively based on long-term trends.
“What’s really helping us out is businesses in town are doing well,” he said.
Real estate tax revenues came in right around town staff’s estimates, Case added.
The town saw significant declines in communications tax and cigarette tax revenues, with Case positing that the former may be attributable to many families choosing to forego landlines at their homes. Traffic fine revenue was also down significantly at 26 percent. Case said later that the court system has been waiving traffic fines at a higher frequency and only assessing defendants court costs, with the town losing out on the traffic fine revenue.
All town departments within the General Fund came in at, or below, projected expenditures for fiscal year 2017. The Leesburg Police Department had a significant underrun of 11 percent, attributable to continuing department vacancies. Town Manager Kaj Dentler noted that Police Chief Gregory Brown believes department vacancies will be down to single digits by the end of the year.
The Utilities Fund, which is an enterprise fund, also performed better than expected with an almost $1.1 million increase.
“Revenues have exceeded our estimates due to accelerated development and revitalization of businesses,” Case said.
The fund is projected to collect $2.4 million in availability fees in fiscal year 2017, with final totals expected next month. These fees are one-time fees that users pay to purchase capacity in the town’s water and sewer system. These revenues are allocated for capital improvements in the utility system only, Case said.
The town is also making good on its promise to rating agencies to build up its unassigned fund balance to 20 percent of the General Fund operating budget. Last year, the fund totaled about 17.5 percent and, if current projections hold, it should hit 20 percent by year’s end, Case said.
Fiscal year 2017 also saw the completion of many big town capital projects, including the skate park renovation, phase one of downtown street improvements and the lower Sycolin sanitary sewer system.