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March 14, 2019 - Finance Director Karl Daughtrey delivered a fiscal 2020 budget revenue projection to City Council that reflects overall growth in Hampton's economy.
What is most notable about the 2.3 percent increase, Daughtrey said, is that it's broad. Increases are projected in many categories: real estate, as was reported last month; personal property; meals tax; sales tax, business license tax; and lodging tax. Also, the city expects more than half a million dollars in pari-mutuel license tax from the Rosie's gaming facility, which will open partway through the budget year. An expected increase in the short-term interest rate could cause the largest percentage increase in a revenue category, nearly 83 percent or $1.2 million, in revenues from the use of money and property, primarily interest income.
Vice Mayor Jimmy Gray was not surprised. "What you reported here is what you see when you drive around the city," he said, citing new retail construction at Riverwalk (formerly Riverdale) and Peninsula Town Center and multiple apartment complexes under construction. Gray noted that "Hampton is a very business-friendly city."
Overall, Daughtrey projected that the city's recurring revenues will increase about $7.9 million over the current year's budgeted amount of $336.7 million (before state funds for schools and transfers from other funds are factored in). A portion of that is committed for specific uses, such as the school system's share of residential taxes and the $1 million increase from the state, which is earmarked. Still, the city will have an estimated $5.2 million increase for this year's budget priorities.
"Two-thirds of our economy is supported by consumers," said Daughtrey. "Consumers feel good about spending and therefore business feel good about taking that money and investing it in their business."
As far as the increases in hotel taxes, Conventions and Visitors Bureau Mary Fugere said, "I do see that increasing because of the new hotels. We are bringing people into our venues, and our new hotels will allow more of them to stay in our city. We are seeing consistent growth in events booked and in the number of people attending those events. We're seeing that consumer confidence resurgence."
City Manager Mary Bunting has completed three in-person meetings to gather resident feedback about the fiscal year 2020 budget, which begins July 1, 2019. She has said that no tax increase would be needed to fund her priorities of giving market-appropriate salary increases to retain valuable employees and continuing to make investments to public safety. While the city doesn't set the schools' budget, a priority has also been to ensure that the school system can also give raises to meet the state requirement.
There are three proposed increases in fines for FY20. Bunting noted these were proposed largely because Hampton had lower rates than neighboring cities and that penalties were designed more to change behavior than to raise revenue. Proposed are:
Also, the city announced last month that an increase in the solid waste fee would be needed. (That is a user-fee service not funded by tax dollars.) Residents who did not attend the in-person input meetings can participate in the input polling online until noon on March 26 at hampton.gov/survey. Poll questions offer options for reduced service that could also reduce the potential fee increase. Also, the polling offers a plan to jump-start projects to mitigate the impact of flooding, based on an increase in the stormwater fee, and residents are asked for input on that idea.