Presented as an informal, informational memo to City Council from Acting City Manager Bruce Johnson.
Download Original Signed Memo
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- The City real estate market continues to improve. The calendar year-to-date average residential sales price of $528,430 was 12.0 percent higher than last year at this time. Reflecting a more healthy market, the months’ worth of inventory for houses declined to 1.7 months in May, down from 3.4 months in May 2010. The months’ worth of inventory for condominiums also declined to 3.4 months in May, down from 4.8 months in May 2010.
- Foreclosure rates remain significantly below 2010 levels. The three-month trailing average for May was 12, down from 31 in May 2010.
- Unemployment in Alexandria increased slightly from 4.0 percent in April to 4.2 percent in May. National unemployment also increased slightly in June, from 9.1 percent to 9.2 percent, as job creation continued to slow, with only 18,000 jobs created in June and May job creation numbers being revised downward from 54,000 to 25,000.
Year-to-Date Revenues: As of May 31, 2011, Attachment 2 shows actual General Fund revenues totaled $383.2 million, which is 1.7 percent higher than FY 2010 revenues for the same period last year. Most of this increase is related to personal property tax and the other local tax categories, which are both up over last year. The April re-estimates described in Budget Memo # 52 and considered by City Council previously during the spring budget process anticipate an additional $1.7 million in revenues for FY 2011 above those previously budgeted.
Notable changes shown on Attachment 2 include:
- Revenue from the Federal Government Up 40 Percent: The City received $1.2 million budgeted in FY 2011 for the Build America Bonds subsidy as compared to $0.4 million in FY 2010. The associated interested expense is included in debt service. Also, federal prisoner per diem revenue is higher.
- Licenses and Permits Down 45 percent: The category decrease is due to the transfer of approximately $3.8 million budgeted for new construction fees from the General Fund to a special revenue account beginning July 1, 2010, where they will be used to cover the cost of Code Enforcement’s New Construction Division, which is now self-financed from these permit fees.
- Charges for City Services Up 17 percent: The increase primarily represents a budgeted increase for fire retesting fees and parking meter receipts.
Year-to-Date Expenditures: As of May 31, 2011, Attachment 3 shows actual General Fund expenditures totaled $420.7 million, an increase of $16.1 million, or 4.0 percent, above expenditures for the same period last year. (It should be noted that last year expenditures were approximately $10 million less than revenues at year-end.) The revised budget (column B) reflects amounts that were appropriated in the supplemental appropriation ordinances approved in December and April. Personnel expenditures remain on par with last year. These personnel expenditures are just slightly higher (0.8 percent) than the budget through May 31. Non-personnel spending increased 6.1 percent. For most departments, differences in spending patterns for non-personnel during the year reflect the timing of bill payments and do not necessarily reflect changes in spending patterns. We are closely monitoring and controlling these expenditures to be at or below budget.
- Fire: As discussed orally at the January 11, 2011, City Council legislative meeting, the Fire Department was projected to be between $1.2 to $1.5 million over budget due to overtime expenditures, primarily due to a large number of firefighter and medic vacancies in the Department during the first half of the year. While the rate of overtime expenditures has slowed with the ability of the Department to use the new recruits to staff shifts instead of using overtime, the Department provided unbudgeted staff to help in the response to large fires in Prince William and Prince George’s Counties, as well as a February snow emergency. Funds to cover these expenses in the Fire Department were included in the transfer resolution approved by City Council on June 28, 2011.
- Transit Subsidies: In FY 2010, the City recognized $3,051,822 savings in Transit subsidy payments to WMATA by utilizing State revenues available above those budgeted for this purpose with the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (from regional gas tax collections and State aid dedicated for transit purposes). It is these savings in the prior year that produced the substantial increase (62 percent) in FY 2011 in this category.
- Non Departmental: The decrease primarily reflects a budgeted decrease in the City’s contribution to the other post-Employment Benefits Trust Fund.
- Debt Service: The increase reflects budgeted debt service for new bonds issued in June 2009 and June 2010. A portion of the interest cost ($1.2 million) is reimbursed from the federal government as part of the Build America Bonds program as noted above.
- Schools: The City currently provides approximately 76 percent of the estimated funds budgeted to operate the City public school system in FY 2011. The increase reflects the budgeted 2.0 percent increase in the transfer to the Schools.
ONLINE REFERENCES (ATTACHMENTS):