No Real Estate Tax Increase Proposed
The recommended operating budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018 and ending June 30, 2019 was presented to City Council at its March 27th work session. The total FY 2019 budget recommended by City Manager Cindy Rohlf is $881,167,196 which is 1.6% higher than the adopted current fiscal year budget.
“This recommended budget includes the necessary rate and fee increases and sustainable reductions to achieve the level of City operations desired by our citizens,” says City Manager Cynthia Rohlf. “It funds our pension and health care obligations; supports increased funding to schools at the level requested by the Acting Superintendent; maintains infrastructure; and invests in our valued employees.”
Real estate assessed values are expected to grow for the first time across all property classifications, with an overall projected increase of 2.46%. A majority of residential assessments will be level with the current year, with commercial, industrial, and apartment/condominium properties showing improvement. Personal Property Tax revenue and Sales and Meal Tax revenues are also anticipated to have a slight increase due to collections at the present time.
There are no real estate tax rate changes recommended for FY 2019. The rate will remain level with the current fiscal year at $1.22 per one hundred dollars of assessed value. For the User Fund fees, there is some higher expenditure for the upcoming fiscal year, primarily driven by state or federal mandates and by the same demands as the General Fund (healthcare and salary increases). This makes user fee increases unavoidable for the Solid Waste and Sewer charges. In general, for an average household of four with a 2018 real assessment of approximately $177,991, the average annual increase is $57.61. The proposed budget maintains the services that citizens expect of the City of Newport News - no services will be eliminated. This includes total funding for the City’s contribution of $119,000,000 to the School Division, to support School daily operations and debt payments on School capital projects.
Other budget recommendations include:
- An average merit increase of 2% based on performance for eligible City employees effective July 1, 2018.
- Health insurance premium costs will be higher for FY 2019. The resulting impact to the General Fund health care costs is an increase of $813,000 with employees seeing a 5.2% increase in premiums.
- General Fund support for the City’s Debt Service payments for outstanding General Obligation Debt will be lower. This amount is $1,427,178 or 3.2% less than the current year amount.
- There is recommended funding for 35 Community Support agencies that are supported by the City. Regional Organizations in which the City is a member or participant will receive a slight increase in funding from FY 2018. An example of this is Hampton Roads Transit (HRT), with an increase of $34,000 to match year current costs.
- The City will fund a Day Services Center for the homeless in FY 2019 in the amount of $427,000. The Center will provide shelter and access to basic human needs for the homeless, which includes health services, integrated case management, housing assistance, and training and learning opportunities.
- In a move to improve efficiencies, the City will eliminate seven vacant positions in various departments, with the duties moved to existing staff.
The entire recommended budget including the City Manager’s cover letter and presentation can be viewed online