Estimates presented at a Monday night city council budget workshop showed an increase of 1.7 percent over 2013, from $57.9 million to $58.9 million.
But it might have been even more if the city hadn’t axed its red light cameras or the state legislature hadn’t fiddled with the so-called “birthday tax,” according to Budget manager Ryan Luckett.
He told city council members at a Monday budget workshop that the city will probably take a financial hit from change to the ad valorem tax law that provides for a one-time payment of the tax on newly titled vehicles rather than an annual assessment.
“We don’t assume it will fall in the city’s favor,” Luckett said. He said the general fund will take a $187,000 hit in the first year.
The new law took effect March 1. Staff is predicting a 15 percent decline in that revenue over the next seven years.
“It’s not favorable to the city of Roswell over the long term,” said City Administrator Kay Love.
“But overall, it’s fewer taxes for the consumer,” Councilwoman Betty Price said.
The city is also likely to experience an estimated $265,000 loss in traffic violation revenues in 2014 due to the elimination of red light cameras at key intersections, Luckett said.
Roswell officials ended the camera program last year after staff said crash data appeared to be unaffected by the cameras.
The cameras, which photographed license tags of vehicles running red lights to allow traffic tickets to be sent to violators, were a thorn in the side of many motorists.
Though the cameras brought in close to $2 million in fines in the first few years of operation, the city began to lose money as violations at the monitored intersections declined.
Officials always maintained safety, not revenue, was the point of the program.
The taxable value of real estate in the city continues to slide, although not nearly as precipitously as it did in 2011 when it dropped 5.7 percent. In 2014, staff is projecting a 3.1 percent decrease. One factor is that staff is assuming that $378,000 in outstanding tax bill appeals will not be resolved in the city’s favor, Love said, in keeping with the city’s caution in estimating its income.
In the last four years, the average annual decline in Roswell’s property tax digest value has been 2.5 percent, according to a graph at the workshop.
On the other hand, sales tax revenues have exceeded anticipation by $1.1 million in 2013 and will be conservatively budgeted at that figure for 2014.
More budget work sessions are scheduled on March 25at 5:30 p.m. and April 8 at 6:30 p.m. . The 2014 proposed budget will be presented to council April 29.