Monthly Financial Report -- September 2011

Page updated on Feb 26, 2020 at 2:39 PM

Presented to City Council by Acting City Manager Bruce Johnson on November 9, 2011. 

Download Original Signed Memo 

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.

Final revenues and expenditures for FY 2011 will be reported on this docket in the City’s audited Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).  As discussed at the September 13 City Council meeting, we have produced a $9.8 million surplus compared to the previously planned, budgeted and reserved revenue and expenditure amounts. This surplus is proposed to be used for: (1) $2.7 million to increase uncommitted, unassigned fund balance equal to 5.5 percent of General Fund revenues as set by City financial/debt policy guidelines; (2) to establish an additional $4.0 million reserve that may be needed to cope with either national economic or federal budget uncertainties; (3) $2.4 million to meet the costs of disasters or other emergencies and, to the extent not necessary for these purposes, function as a reserve for future public safety needs; and (4) $0.7 million to prepare for emergencies by improving emergency response capabilities as outlined to City Council at its legislative meeting on October 25, 2011. 


  • City of Alexandria unemployment rose slightly in August.   Non-seasonally adjusted unemployment in the City of Alexandria rose from 4.5 in July to 4.8 percent in August due to employment shrinking slightly faster than the labor pool, partially reflecting a seasonal trend of decreases in employment as summer jobs disappear and student workers return to school.  Virginia unemployment increased from 6.3 percent in August to 6.5 percent in September. National unemployment remained unchanged at 9.1 percent for the third month in a row.  Both state and national unemployment data are seasonally adjusted, while City data are not seasonally adjusted. 
  • Fiscal year-to-date hotel occupancy rates have increased.   The total average fiscal year-to-date occupancy rate for all hotel types increased from 62.8 percent in August 2010 to 65.3 percent in August 2011, with occupancy increasing in all hotel types except mid-range hotels.   However, it is important to note that the one-month August total average occupancy rate was 59.1 percent, down from 61.2 percent in August 2010 and 69.0 percent in July 2011.  The overwhelming majority of the year-on-year decrease is due to significant decreases in the budget and mid-range categories, which tend to reflect tourism rather than federal travel-related business.  The month-over-month decrease seems to be partially explained by a seasonally recurring drop in occupancy in August.
  • Regional inflation slowed further in September.  The DC Consumer Price Index showed a year-on-year increase of 3.4 percent in September, compared to 3.8 percent in August and 4.1 percent in July.  This is the smallest year-on-year increase since March. On a quarterly basis, regional CPI increased 3.6 percent from first quarter FY2011 to first quarter FY 2012. 
  • On another positive note, the City’s residential housing market remains strong.  The three-month average for residential sales is up 18.1 percent over the same period last year, while calendar year-to-date sales are up 3.4 percent.  The calendar year-to-date median sales value of residential properties is up 7.0 percent, reflecting more sales of higher priced homes, as well as some underlying increase in home prices.  Additionally, foreclosures have decreased 45 percent in calendar year 2011, compared to 2010. 
  • National economic growth sped up in the third quarter, but there is still room for caution.  GDP expanded at a 2.5 percent annual rate in third quarter 2011, the fastest pace in a year and up from 1.3 percent in the previous quarter.  After adjusting for inflation, GDP climbed to $13.35 trillion last quarter, topping the $13.33 trillion peak reached during the fourth quarter 2007.  Helping to fuel this growth is business spending on equipment & software, which increased 17.4 percent, and increases in retail, home goods, and auto sales. The ATA trucking Index, a good indicator of future economic growth, is now above pre-recession rates.  Despite the positive growth, most Federal Reserve Districts are reporting subdued hiring and capital spending business plans.  The willingness of individuals and companies to spend personal savings and make business investments is limited by a cautious mood toward the economic future.  Events in Europe and in Congress are the primary contributors to this cautious mood.


Year-to-Date Revenues:   As of September 30, 2011, actual General Fund revenues totaled $56.6 million, which is 8.0 percent higher than FY 2011 for the same period last year.  Most of this increase is related to personal property taxes.  Government accounting principles require that most taxes and intergovernmental revenues received in July are counted as revenue for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2011. See the online reference for more information. Three months does not provide enough data to recognize any trends either positive or negative. 

  • Business License Taxes:  The decrease is a result of the timing of payments.
  • Other Local Taxes: The decrease is a result of the timing of payments.
  • Personal Property Taxes/Motor Vehicle License:  The increase is a result of earlier payments by taxpayers.  Bills were mailed earlier in FY 2012 than in FY 2011.
  • Charges for Service:  The increase is the result of the budgeted increase in meter fees implemented for the newly installed multi-space meters and the increase to $1.75/hour with their installation. 


Year-to-Date Expenditures: As of September 30, 2011, actual General Fund expenditures totaled $120.4 million, an increase of $6.1 million, or 5.3 percent, above expenditures for the same period last year. Personnel expenditures remain on par with last year. Non-personnel spending increased 9.1 percent. For most departments, differences in spending patterns for non-personnel this early in the year reflect the timing of bill payments and not necessarily changes in spending patterns. We are, and will continue to be, closely monitoring and controlling these expenditures to be at or below budget.

There are several departmental changes approved for FY 2012.  Funds for the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse; the Department of Human Services; and the Office on Women are now appropriated into one agency: the Department of Community and Human Services.  The Department of Emergency & Customer Communications, which was established in March of FY 2010, was expanded in February 2011 with the consolidation of the emergency and customer communications functions of the Police and Fire Departments into the new department.  When possible for comparison purposes, prior year amounts have been moved to the new departments.

  • Health Department:  The decrease reflects the timing of bills received from the Commonwealth for services provided.  
  • Fire Department:  As discussed during several City Council legislative meetings and during the FY 2012 budget process, the Fire Department has a continuing need to utilize overtime to maintain minimum staffing levels on frontline Fire and EMS units when firefighters and medics use leave and to fill vacancies from attrition.  The new Fire recruit class hired in 2011 has started to reduce costs from the prior year.  Another recruit class is underway that will continue to reduce the need for overtime late in FY 2012.  Even with these changes, the Fire Department is projected to be over the current budget as adopted by City Council. OMB and Fire staff will continue to monitor overtime and other expenditures and revise the projections as needed.
  • Transit Subsidies:  The State Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) and  the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) have signed an FY 2012 funding agreement, and the State has resumed monthly transit assistance payments to NVTC for use by the localities to meet their regional and local transit subsidy requirements. 
  • Debt Service:  The increase reflects budgeted debt service for new bonds issued in June 2009 and June 2010.  A portion of the interest cost ($1.2 million) is reimbursed from the federal government as part of the Build America Bonds program. 
  • Registrar:  The increase reflects expenditures for the August election. 
  • Non- Departmental:  Please note that General Fund expenditures do not include the costs for several emergencies shown in the following table.  The City has been included in the presidential declaration for Hurricane Irene, which makes certain expenditures eligible for federal re-imbursement.  Staff is currently working with FEMA on the reimbursement request.  As indicated above, the Acting City Manager has recommended that some of the FY 2011 surplus be used to cover the unreimbursed costs, as necessary. 





Tropical Storm Lee

$1.35 million

No declaration yet.

Hurricane Irene

0.70 million

Declaration could reduce to between $0.2 and $0.3 million.


0.50 million


9/11 Terrorist Preparation

0.02 million


Total of Cost Range: Estimated between $0.7 to $2.6 million depending on the amounts eventually reimbursed.

  • Schools:  The City will provide approximately 75 percent of the estimated funds required to operate the City public school system in FY 2012.