WARWICK,RI — Warwick Finance Director Peder Schaefer had good news for the City Council at the Oct. 18 meeting, with Warwick revenue $1.6 million more than budgeted, creating a general fund operating surplus of $2.2 million for the year ending June 30, 2021.
His preliminary budget report, Schaefer said, is “basically, all good news.”
The uptick in revenues doesn’t count the $5.1 million in American Rescue funds pledged by the federal government to support the revised FY 21 budget.
“We didn’t have to use that money,” Schaefer said Monday night.
The city also didn’t need to use $2.8 million in fund balance drawdown that had been incorporated in the enacted FY 21, Schaefer said. Schaefer noted three factors affecting city revenue this year:
- Property tax collections were almost $2.2 million greater than estimated. This collections improvement was greater than projected this May and results principally from the tax sale held in May (the first in two years) as well as continued refinancing activity.
- While state aid fell $6.5 million below original estimates, Federal aid exceeded estimates by $7.1 million reflecting the state’s use of CARES Act (CRF) funding to keep municipalities whole on state aid.
- Other revenues fell short of original estimates by $0.7 million. This reflects the losses in hospitality revenue from the airport ($1.1 million), room occupancy tax ($0.6 million), meals tax ($0.3 million), short term investment earnings ($0.5 million), recreational activities ($0.4 million), and rescue service fees ($0.2 million). Part of this shortfall was made up by robust real estate activity (+$0.8 million in recording, real estate transfer, and building permit fees),
The city was also fortunate on the expense side, with expenses coming $4.4 million below budgeted levels:
- Central Administrative costs were $0.8 million below budgeted levels as payroll wasconstrained and software maintenance costs were less than expected.
- Public Safety costs were $0.6 million over budget as a deficit in the fire department of $1.6 million was offset by savings in the police department and by FEMA
- Social services spending which includes recreational activities were $1.1 million under the budget as originally enacted, as recreational and library services were curtailed by the pandemic until the end of the year.
- A surplus of over $1.9 million was registered in public works and associated services as payroll costs were restrained by layoffs earlier in the year as well as moderating utility costs and a mild winter.
- A modest deficit in employee benefits associated with severance payments was offset by significant savings in unemployment costs as the Federal government subsidized unemployment under the CARES Act. Health Insurance costs were lower than expected this May.
- Preliminary numbers indicate a surplus in the school department of over $0.2 million. Confirmation of this number is pending further review. In any case, school surpluses are generally carried over into the new-year.
Schaefer’s full report is embedded below:
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