General Property taxes are slightly higher in the first quarter than in FY 2015. Total collections to date of $27.9 million reflect 6.5% of the budgeted amount, compared to $21.9 million in FY 2015, which represented 5.3% of the total property tax revenues received. Real Property tax bills were mailed on September 22 and are due on November 15. Personal property taxes were due on October 5th and will be reflected in next month’s report, however through September the collections were very similar to last year. Through September, 56 percent of the total locally collected personal property tax revenues of $24.4 million had been received, compared to 47 percent for the same time period in FY 2015.
Other local taxes are trending consistently compared to last year. Two notable areas are Consumer Utility taxes and Admissions taxes. Consumer Utility tax receipts through September are $0.9 million higher than through the same period last year. This is attributable to the timing of payments and not an indication of actual increasing revenue collections. Admissions tax is lower compared to FY 2015 due to the timing of a payment in August that was accrued to the prior year, but was received too late in August 2014 to be accrued in FY 2015. Other Revenue appears to reflect a significant variance and collections to date are higher than through September 2014, but it is important to keep in mind that the total revenues in FY 2015 included revenue from the sale of the Old Health Department Building.
Alexandria’s economic environment is fairly stable and reflects the conditions across the region. Several key indicators are showing positive signs. As of June 2015, the office vacancy rate was 15.8%, a decrease of 1.5% over the same period last year and approximately one percent lower than the average for Northern Virginia. Unemployment in Alexandria continues to fall and was 3.5% at mid-year 2015. This is the second lowest rate in the region, (Arlington is lowest at 3.15) and compares favorably to the 4.9 percent average for Virginia and the 5.3 percent national average.
Residential real estate sales continue to be fairly volatile. In the month of July, not including foreclosures and short sales, 256 units sold, which is an increase of 4.9% compared to July 2014. The median sales prices dropped by 10.8%. However, in the month of August, there was an 18% increase in the number of units sold and an 11.6% increase in the median sales price. Through August 2015 the median sales prices of residential units is 3 percent higher than through August 2014. The residential assessment sales ratio for the 1,725 units that sold between January 1, 2015 and August 2015 was 95.67 percent. Between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014, for the 2,286 units that sold, the assessment to sales ratio was 94.73 percent. Property assessments reflect the fair market value of real property in the City. An assessment sales ratio around 95 percent indicates that the City’s current property assessments are fairly consistent with the market and the selling price of homes is basically flat compared to the prior year.
As of September 30, 2015, General Fund expenditures totaled $141.6 million, which equals 21.8 percent of the budgeted expenditures for FY 2016. At this time period, the City is one quarter of the way through the fiscal year and 24 percent of payrolls have been processed. Expenditures through September 2014 represented 21% of the expenditures for the entire year. At this point in the fiscal year there are no significant unbudgeted or unanticipated expenditures recorded and the variances shown in Attachment 2 are the result of changes in staffing levels or vacancies in departments. There are a number of personnel vacancies and employees in acting capacity in those departments. As positions are filled, the percent of budget expended will be more closely aligned with the percentage of the fiscal year that is completed. Departments that are impacted by this variances in staffing include, Human Resources, Project Implementation, Code Administration, Housing and the Office of Management and Budget. There is a significant variance in the spending percentage for the Registar, which is attributable to the increase in their budget of approximately $77,000 for the primary election in March, not to a significant change in their spending levels through the first quarter of the year.
Revenue Variances in Detail
As of June 2015, the average sales price of residential properties was approximately 97.8% of the list price.
- The average days on the market for homes in Alexandria as of June 2015 was 42 days, which is the same as June 2014.
- Alexandria’s overall retail vacancy rate of 3.7% in the second quarter of 2015 continues to be approximately 2% below the average for the Northern Virginia suburbs due in large part to very low vacancy rates in Old Town, Potomac Yard and Del Ray.
- Through the first three quarters of calendar year 2015 the City has issued 717 net new business licenses, including 1,088 offset by 371 that have terminated. It should be noted that this may not reflect changes in the total number of businesses in the City, but changes in the various classifications of business that existing businesses are licensed to conducted in the City.
Source: Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, Inc., and RBIntel