Prince William revenue bests budget forecast

Prince William County received $17.6 million more in second-quarter general revenue income than was budgeted for 2002.

Real estate taxes led the way, bringing in $6 million more than budgeted, according to a memo from Finance Director Chris Martino to the county Board of Supervisors.

The county was expecting those taxes to generate $237.4 million and instead they brought in $243.4 million.

The 2002 fiscal budget was $395.1 million. Instead, that number has grown to $412.7 million due to appreciations on commercial properties and apartment buildings, and personal property tax increases, to name a few.

Because finances are going so well, county Board of Supervisors Chairman Sean T. Connaughton, R-at large, said discussion of further reduction in the real-estate tax rate, now at $1.30 per $100 of assessed value, is expected at the board’s meeting today.

Commercial properties appreciated 9.7 percent in the second quarter, for a $1.7 million increase in general funds. Apartment properties grew 8.7 percent in value, resulting in $200,000 in additional income.

Personal property tax on cars and other personal goods was expected to bring in $74.3 million and instead brought in $77.9 million.

Connaughton said many other local jurisdictions spend money and then cut back when the revenues aren’t there. Instead, Prince William officials assumed the economy would slow down and planned and adopted a fiscal plan based on that.

This gives the county the possibility of accelerating its tax-reduction program, Connaughton said.

The plan was to drop the tax rate to $1.28 by 2011. But finances have been so rosy that the tax rate has dropped 6 cents in the last two years.

Another category that was up was sales-tax revenues. Through November, $2.3 million more came into county coffers than planned in the adopted budget. That is 7 percent more than in fiscal 2001.

One of the few categories where revenues were down was in investments, according to the memorandum. The county’s portfolio balance at the end of last year was greater than expected, but because interest rates have dropped, $1.3 million less than expected will be realized.

Staff writer Diane Freda can be reached at (703) 878-4723.

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