First-quarter revenues beating budget

Published 11:08 pm Friday, November 18, 2011

Higher-than-expected tax collections are spelling good news for Suffolk.

In the first quarter of the fiscal year, local revenue generators like business license, admissions, hotel and restaurant taxes were exceeding the budget projections by up to 37 percent, Budget and Strategic Planning Director Anne Seward told City Council on Wednesday.

“It’s good that they’re positive, but when you look at the budget, it’s not a lot of money,” Seward said.

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Those particular taxes accounted for about $2.7 million more in revenue than had been projected, Seward said.

The business license tax revenues are exceeding the budget by about 13 percent, she said. Restaurant taxes are up 19 percent, hotel taxes are running 35 percent above the budget and admissions taxes like movie theater tickets were up 37 percent.

Sales-tax collections also are 2 percent over budget, she said.

“Everything is as we expected it to be,” Seward said. “So long as I’m within a 5-percent margin, I think we’re doing really good.”

Seward said much of the extra revenue is coming from relatively new retail outlets and restaurants in the North Suffolk area, which also could be attracting more moviegoers to the Harbour View Grande theater.

“I’m continuing to see the effect of the new businesses that opened since I did my budget,” she said. “The one thing I was concerned about last year, with all those businesses opening, is that sometimes you can see that newness die down. It appears that everything is going to be fairly constant and steady.”

The good news comes just before the Christmas shopping season, when Seward said sales — and therefore tax collections — are traditionally a little higher.

“We will hopefully get a lift by having places where people can do their Christmas shopping in Suffolk,” she said. “It’s important for residents to stay in Suffolk and spend their money here, because it gives them a return through the government.”

The one negative number in the report — a 15-percent lag in recordation tax — indicates a still-sluggish housing market, Seward said.