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City officials are projecting charges for city services will see an estimated revenue boost to $8.5 million for the fiscal year, as a slowly strengthening economy improves tax collections.
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Ambulance runs and prisoners’ phone calls could make it easier for Roanoke to pay for services next year.
City officials are projecting a 9.3 percent rise in charges for city services, boosting that stream of revenue to an estimated $8.5 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1, according to financial reports prepared for Monday’s city council meeting.
Finance Director Ann Shawver said one big reason for the gain is that a new contractor has been collecting more EMS bills — charges for ambulance and other emergency medical services — than the company that the city had been using.
A new provider of telephone service in the jail has offered the city a larger share of revenue from inmates’ phone calls, too, she said.
Payments for housing federal prisoners also are on the rise, she said.
In addition, a slowly strengthening economy is boosting tax collections, a trend that looks likely to continue next year, she said.
Meals-tax income is on the rise, with revenue so far this year running 5 percent ahead of last year’s pace, standing at $7.4 million for the eight months ended Feb. 28.
Hotel tax collections are up more than 8 percent from last year, as more people are staying in city hotels, Shawver said.
Shawver said the latest review of tax trends suggests that business license fee collections are higher than city officials had projected.
So far this year, collections are running about 2 percent ahead of fiscal year 2012’s level.
The latest forecast is that fee collections will stabilize at about $12.4 million next year. Business license fees are a key indicator of how the city’s economy is doing because they track how many new businesses people form and because they grow as businesses’ gross income rises.
At Monday’s 2 p.m. meeting at the Noel C. Taylor Municipal Building, the city council is set to consider authorizing a $3 fee for overnight parking in the Market Garage.
That’s meant for guests at the hotel that a South Carolina-based developer hopes to build atop the garage.
Assistant City Manager Brian Townsend said the hotel is now in the design phase. Because there is a chance it could open before the end of the next fiscal year — June 30, 2014 — it made sense to authorize the fee now, he said. The fee would not be implemented before the hotel opens, he said.
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