Conservative budgeting by Vienna officials during the pandemic-affected last year, combined with expenditures tracking about $1.2 million lower than projected, has the town on track for a nearly $294,000 surplus by the end of fiscal year 2021.
“It’s just been a very interesting journey,” Finance Director Marion Serfass told the Vienna Town Council during her third-quarter financial report on April 26.
Revenues almost have matched cautious projections made when the Vienna Town Council approved the budget last year, and officials predict they’ll be about $170,500 under those estimates. One-time federal CARES Act funding accounted for about $1.8 million, or 6.9 percent, of that good news, but there were other bright spots as well.
State revenues, especially for public safety, likely will amount to $3.3 million by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, or about $494,000 more than town officials had predicted.
Officials predict zoning and other permit fees will be up 63.4 percent by the fiscal year’s end, business-license taxes will rise by 27.9 percent and sales taxes by 4.7 percent.
Meals-tax revenues, which the town uses to finance capital-improvement projects, are outperforming conservative budget expectations by 65.3 percent. The nearly $2.4 million town officials expect to collect by fiscal year’s end.
“As the weather gets nicer, as outdoor dining crops up again and as people get vaccinated, there is bright news ahead for meals taxes, too,” Serfass said.
The town also has been able to save money because 11 positions were vacant (or soon to be) as of March 31. Officials actively are recruiting to fill those posts.
Not all the budget numbers were positive. Town officials had expected a revenue increase from parks-and-recreation programs, but those figures were down about $405,100 (54.4 percent) because of extended pandemic-related closures.
With interest rates still in the basement, town officials predict revenues for use of money and property will be 50.6 percent lower than projections. Court fines and fees likely will decline 36 percent, officials said.
While town officials cut items when calculating the fiscal 2021 budget, their strategy this year is to freeze a portion of the budget and then increase spending if financial circumstances allow.
Mayor Linda Colbert said she was pleased with the town’s financial status and thanked Serfass for her stewardship.
“I know other jurisdictions are not doing so well,” she said.