County expects revenues to grow

March 31, 2004|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY - With an increase in the value of homes and more homes being built and sold, Washington County anticipates receiving about $6.3 million more in real estate and recordation tax revenues in the coming fiscal year.

County Budget and Finance Director Debra Bastian presented the information to the County Commissioners on Tuesday.

Bastian also projected the county would receive a $1.3 million increase in local income tax revenue and $1.4 million from the state in unclaimed income tax returns.

In total, the county anticipates receiving $147.5 million in general fund revenues for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1. That would be an increase of $8.83 million, or 6.36 percent, over the current fiscal year's revenues of $138.7 million.


The county's largest portion of revenues are generated through property and income taxes.

Customers of the county's water and sewer services will pay increased rates.

The commissioners on Tuesday approved a 3 percent rate increase on water and sewer bills for fiscal year 2005. That works out to about $3 per quarter per water and sewer bill for the average residential customer, who uses about 12,000 gallons of water per quarter.

Water Quality Director Greg Murray said earlier this month that the rate increases are part of a long-range plan to eliminate the county's approximately $43 million water and sewer debt.

In addition, the commissioners are considering raising permit fees at the Forty West Landfill by $15 a year for senior citizens and all other permit holders.

A permit fee increase is needed to help make up for an approximately $257,000 shortfall, Solid Waste Director Bob Davenport said Tuesday.

The proposed landfill permit fee increase is lower than the increases the Solid Waste Advisory Committee proposed on March 9.

The committee proposed increasing the fee from $75 to $130 for seniors and from $105 to $130 for other permit holders.

The commissioners on Tuesday said they weren't comfortable with raising the fee for senior citizens that much.

Instead, seniors would pay $90 for permits and all others would pay $120 under the commissioners' proposal.

The commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposal. A date for that hearing was not set Tuesday afternoon.

Bastian said the projected increase in real estate tax revenue is due in part to an increase in the number of homes and in the value of homes in Washington County.

She estimated the county would receive $68.9 million in real estate tax revenue, an increase of about $5.2 million, or 8.1 percent, over the current fiscal year's real estate tax revenue of $63.7 million.

The county usually sees an increase of 3 percent or 4 percent a year, Bastian said.

"This is a significant increase compared to last year," she said.

The recordation tax, which is collected when property sales are recorded, is projected to bring in $6.5 million in fiscal year 2005, up $1.2 million over the current fiscal year's revenues of $5.3 million.

Bastian said that anticipated increase is a result of growth in median house prices, refinancings and home sales.

"We can't see it slowing," County Administrator Rodney Shoop said.

The price of many houses being recorded in the county range from $200,000 to $250,000 or higher, Bastian said.

Bastian said it's possible the county's recordation tax revenue for the current fiscal year will come in at $8.7 million, substantially higher than the anticipated $5.3 million.

The Herald-Mail Articles