Presented as a memo to City Council from City Manager James K. Hartmann on May 10, 2011.
NOTE: Click on the headings below or the "online references" to view more detailed economic, revenue or expenditure data. Click on any highlighted bullet or text to view additional information, including charts and memos.
- Alexandria residential real estate property values reached their highest point in March since August 2006. The year-to-date average sales price of $506,192 is 24.9 percent higher than last year.
- Alexandria per capita income ($70,846) ranked 9th in the nation in 2009, up from 12th in 2008. Recently released statistics also included Arlington ranked 7th at $73,187; Fairfax County ranked 12th at $69,241; and the District of Columbia ranked 13th at $68,843.
- Alexandria calendar year-to-date foreclosures are 52.7 percent below this time last year. The three-month average for foreclosures is eight condos, three single family and no commercial properties per month as compared to 20 condos, six single family and no commercial properties in March 2010. There have been 35 foreclosures in Alexandria during this calendar year-to-date.
- Alexandria sales and meals tax and the transient lodging $1 room fee monthly revenues grew in this reporting period, while revenues from the 6.5 percent transient lodging tax remained relatively flat. The three month average for sales tax revenues in December 2010 through February 2011 was 6.2 percent higher than last year. The three month average for meals tax revenues through December 2010 was 7.1 percent higher than last year. The three month average for the transient lodging room fee through February was 4.6 percent higher than last year. The three month average for revenues generated by the 6.5 percent transient lodging tax on room sales through February was 0.1 percent lower than last year.
- National GDP growth declined in the first quarter of 2011. An advance estimate based on preliminary data indicated the GDP grew by 1.8 percent in the first quarter as compared to 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010. An increase in imports, slowdowns in personal consumption and private investment, and reduced federal spending were contributing factors. A revised estimate will be released later in the month.
- Unemployment continued to decline in March but remains historically high. Alexandria unemployment was 4.5 percent compared to 5.3 percent this time last year. Virginia unemployment is down to 6.3 percent from 7.1 percent last year. National unemployment is down to 8.8 percent from 9.7 percent last year.
- The national consumer price index increased for the fifth straight month by 2.7 percent. Food and gasoline prices accounted for nearly three-quarters of the growth. The core CPI excluding food and energy increased by 1.2 percent.
Year-to-Date Revenues: As of March 31, 2011, actual General Fund revenues totaled $330.8 million, which is 2.5 percent higher than FY 2010 revenues for the same period last year. Most of this increase is related to general property tax and the other local tax categories, which are up 2.0 percent and 3.0 percent respectively over last year. This report includes the April re-estimates described in Budget Memo # 52, which anticipate an additional $1.7 million in revenues for FY 2011.
- Tobacco Taxes: The decrease in this category is primarily attributable to the increase in the tax rate. There is some anecdotal evidence of a sales drop-off related to smoking bans.
- Licenses and Permits: The category decrease is due to the transfer of approximately $3.8 million budgeted for new construction fees from the General Fund to a special revenue account beginning July 1, 2010, where they will be used to cover the cost of Code Enforcement’s New Construction Division, which is now self-financed from these permit fees.
- Charges for City Services: The increase primarily represents a budgeted increase for fire retesting fees and parking meter receipts.
- Revenue from the Federal Government: The City has received $1.2 million in FY 2011 for the Build America Bonds subsidy as compared to $0.4 million in FY 2010.
Year-to-Date Expenditures: As of March 31, 2011, actual General Fund expenditures totaled $348.1 million, an increase of $8.1 million, or 2.4 percent, above expenditures for the same period last year. The revised budget reflects amounts that were appropriated in the supplemental appropriation ordinance approved in December. Personnel expenditures remain on par with last year. These personnel expenditures are just slightly higher than the budget primarily because turnover savings are deducted from the budget on the first day of the fiscal year, while the savings are realized throughout the year. Non-personnel spending increased 3.1 percent. For most departments, differences in spending patterns for non-personnel during the year reflect the timing of bill payments and do not necessarily reflect changes in spending patterns. We are closely monitoring and controlling these expenditures to be at or below budget.
- Economic Development Activities: The decrease is attributable to the timing of the quarterly payment to Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association. The FY 2010 fourth quarter payment was paid prior to March 31.
- Fire: As discussed orally at the January 11, 2011, City Council legislative meeting, the Fire Department is projected to be between $1.2 to $1.5 million over budget due to overtime expenditures, primarily due to a large number of firefighter and medic vacancies in the department during the first half of the year. While the rate of overtime expenditures has slowed with the ability of the department to use the new recruits to staff shifts instead of using overtime, the department provided unbudgeted staff to help in the response to large fires in Prince William and Prince George’s Counties as well as to the February snow emergency.
- Non Departmental: The decrease reflected a budget decrease in the City’s contribution to the other post-Employment Benefits Trust Fund.
- Debt Service: The increase reflects budgeted debt service for bonds issued in June 2009. A portion of the interest cost ($1.2 million) is reimbursed from the federal government as part of the Build America Bonds program.
- Schools: The City currently provides approximately 76 percent of the estimated funds required to operate the City public school system in FY 2011.
ONLINE REFERENCES (ATTACHMENTS):
- Online Reference 1: Selected Economic Indicators
- Online Reference 2: Comparative Statement of Revenues
- Online Reference 3: Comparative Statement of Expenditures