Next year’s revenue projections for city of Columbia show drop

cleblanc@thestate.comFebruary 12, 2013 

  • Columbia’s budget schedule Anyone interested in watching how the city decides its spending priorities for the fiscal year that begins July 1 may attend meetings of the Finance, Audit and Budget Committee. The meetings will be held through March in a conference room in the city garage along Washington Street across from police headquarters. The three-hour meetings are to start at 9 a.m. on the following Thursdays: •  March 7 •  March 14 •  March 28 Once the committee completes its recommendations, the full City Council will take up the budget in April. A final vote is scheduled for June 18.

— Columbia’s projected income next fiscal year in the city’s primary account will be about $6.3 million less than this year, City Council’s budget committee reported on Tuesday.

But the shortfall is not as severe as it seems, city finance officials said.

Columbia’s budget for fiscal 2013-2014 is just beginning to emerge publicly. Revenue figures were released Tuesday during the Finance, Audit and Budget Committee’s first meeting to craft the budget that takes effect July 1.

It remains unclear whether expenditures will out-pace revenue. Council, for example, has yet to discuss income from its second-largest revenue generator: its water and sewer system.

This year, the general fund budget is $120.9 million largely because council authorized $6.1 million in bond sales for the purchase of big-ticket items such as police, fire and Public Works Department vehicles, said Jeff Palen, Columbia’s new chief financial officer.

The projected income to the general fund next year is $114.6 million. Council members have not said whether they plan to propose issuing more bonds.

New city manager Teresa Wilson said she will present her budget recommendations later this spring as she learns more about council’s fiscal intentions.

The figures released Tuesday show that overall, the city is expecting about $1.8 million more revenue in the general fund – about a 1.8 percent increase over this year. The single largest source of extra income is projected to be about $966,000 more from state aid, ongoing payments for providing school resource officers and income from providing fire service. Growth is expected to push up property tax revenue by about $596,000.

Columbia has about $15 million in its rainy day account, Palen said.

City officials also released income projections from hospitality and accommodations taxes.

The taxes patrons pay on prepared meals and beverages are expected to generate $8.5 million, up about $100,000 from this year’s “H taxes.”

If council allots its usual list of recipients their current amount of H-taxes, council would have $5.2 million left to distribute if it chooses to spend all of an estimated $900,000 in accumulated surplus.

Council has been studying ways to change the allocation of H-taxes, a pot of money that has been used to pay for an array of activities from neighborhood festivals to surveillance cameras in Columbia’s entertainment districts and more recently in entrances to neighborhoods located off major corridors.

The tax collected from hotels and motels should provide the city with $1.45 million next year, up $500,000 from the $1.4 million anticipated this year.

Discussions about revenue from the water and sewer system may come up at the first committee meeting in March.

Reach LeBlanc at (803) 771-8664.

The State is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service