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FairfaxThanks to federal bucks, Vienna weathers financial storm

Thanks to federal bucks, Vienna weathers financial storm

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Thanks in part to a substantial infusion of federal CARES Act funds, the Vienna town government has weathered well the first seven months of pandemic-stricken fiscal year 2021, officials told the Vienna Town Council Feb. 22.

An infusion of $1.82 million in CARES Act moneys boosted the town’s revenues by 6.9 percent, resulting in a projected general-fund surplus of $120,428, according to a report presented by Finance Director Marion Serfass.

The town’s fiscal 2021 operating revenues have taken some major hits during the pandemic. Rounding to the nearest $1,000, town officials are forecasting a $376,000 decline in parks-and-recreation revenues.

“We expected parks-and-recreation [programs] to be open in January,” Serfass said. “It didn’t come to pass.”

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Officials also project losses in use of money ($152,000), capital-lease proceeds ($114,000), court fines and fees dropped ($74,000) and other local taxes ($127,000).

Town officials project revenue gains in other areas, including property taxes ($133,000), business-license taxes ($27,000), sales taxes ($57,000), zoning and other permits ($181,000), street-cut inspection fees ($21,000), miscellaneous revenue ($43,000) and federal and state revenue ($418,000).

Meals-tax revenues, which pay for capital improvements, have dipped sharply compared with previous years, courtesy of the pandemic and subsequent governmental lockdowns. Town officials budgeted conservatively for fiscal 2021, estimating that meals-tax revenues would be only half the $2.8 million collected in fiscal 2019. (Those revenues declined by about $350,000 in fiscal 2020 after the pandemic struck last March.)

Vienna officials are now forecasting to collect nearly $2.4 million in meals-tax revenues in fiscal 2021.

“Vienna residents really rallied to the cause,” Serfass said, adding it was “pretty amazing” that meals-tax revenues for the first six months of the fiscal year have reached 83 percent of the levels of the previous year.

The Town Council will finalize the fiscal 2022 budget later this spring. Council member Howard Springsteen said the town should consider giving its employees raises this year, following pandemic-related budget cuts last year.

PHOTO: Marion Serfass is finance director for the Vienna town government.

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