Shuttered movie theaters and a drop in expected income tax revenue appear to be the biggest budget liabilities heading into Hyattsville’s next fiscal year, senior city staffers said during the city’s April 23, 2020, Council meeting, held by videoconference to avoid corona’s plague.
During the meeting, City Administrator Tracey Douglas laid out department-by-department budget plans for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2020. Top line numbers include $20.9 million in projected revenue, $23.3 million in projected expenses, and a shortfall of $2.4 million.
Asked if there was any concern about property taxes, the city’s largest source of tax revenue, Hyattsville’s city treasurer Ronald Brooks noted the city was not scheduled for a new property tax assessment until 2021, which should help maintain the city tax base at least for the next fiscal year.
But Brooks also emphasized that the ultimate impacts of the pandemic are not yet known. Some revenue projections could still be optimistic, and a budget is just a planning document, not a final shopping list.
“Going into probably the second quarter of next year, I probably expect some additional reductions in some of these areas,” said Brooks during the meeting. “One of the things I didn’t want to do was to drive the anticipated, real-quick, revenue numbers too far down, while trying to keep in mind what some of the economic factors are going in.”
“At the end of the day, we have pretty much flat revenue going forward,” said Brooks.
The hammering taken by the city’s admission and amusement tax revenue by the pandemic, which brought in about about $350,000 per year in recent years, is budgeted to decrease by 39 percent to $275,000. Income tax is budgeted to decrease by $250,000 or 21 percent to $2.4 million. Overall, total budgeted revenue is projecte to be roughly 1 percent higher than the current year’s $20.7 million budget. The city’s budget does not forecast a decline in property tax revenue, instead it projects property tax revenue to increase 3 percent to $14 million.
The city’s $23.3 million budget is 12.6 percent, or $2.6 million higher than this year’s $20.7 million outlay.
The police department’s budget is projected to grow 12.7 percent, or roughly $1 million, from $7.9 million to $8.9 million next year. The police department is the biggest line-item among the city’s departments. Its increases are driven by a 13.4 percent, $600,000 increase in the department’s patrol department from $4.4 million this year to $5 million this year, a 15.2 percent, $209,260 increase to the police command budget, bringing it from $1.4 million last year to $1.6 million next year.
The city’s administrative and legislative branches are also slated for budget bumps next year. The city’s general government fund – which covers most non-police administrative functions – is projected to grow 10 percent from #3.5 million to $3.8 million next year, much of that increase coming from a $167,900 increase in the budget for volunteer services and a $176,610 increase in the communications budget. While it’s a relatively small line item, next year the city is also considering a $60,000 budget for elections, a 578 percent increase over this year’s $8,900 budget. This is because city election officials, as a result of the pandemic, are accelerating plans to expand vote-by-mail infrastructure and to add new voting centers.
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