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March 14, 2018 - Hampton should have about $4.1 million more money to spend next year, predicted Finance Director Karl Daughtrey at City Council's afternoon work session. Of that, about $1.1 million is locked in for specific uses -- mostly schools -- and $3 million is available for city priorities. Overall, the increase as a percentage is about 1.2 percent, said Daughtrey.
Real estate accounts for nearly half of the increase. Much of that is due to new construction rather than increased assessments, Assessor Brian Gordineer told council earlier this year. Car taxes for both residents and businesses will contribute almost a million dollars to the increase, with continuing new car sales and increasing values for used cars. According to an agreed-upon formula, a portion of homeowner taxes (including property and cars) are dedicated to schools.
Meals taxes will continue their steady climb, maintaining an increase of about 3 percent a year, predicted Daughtrey, who noted that the average family eats out more than three meals a week.
Daughtrey said the current year's retail sales tax revenues aren't quite living up to the estimate, but he believes they will bounce back in FY19. He attributed the slump to e-commerce. Online retailers, with lower overhead costs, have been forcing all retailers to hold prices down, he said. The city does get retail tax revenue from some online sellers, though not all.
Hotel tax revenues are expected to increase, he said, as two new hotels are slated to open next year. Overnight visitors also are contributors to the increases in meals tax.
The city is seeing less revenue from court fines this year, and that is expected to continue next year. Hampton police have prioritized crime prevention and community policing over traffic citations. Also, Daughtrey noted, courts have been allowing fines to be paid on installments, which means the city should eventually receive funds.
In other matters, Hampton City Council on Wednesday: