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Travis County mid-year revenue collections on target

Wednesday, April 28, 2010 by Jacob Cottingham

Good news from the Travis County Auditor’s Office: this year’s revenue collections are likely to be very close to, if not in excess of, previous projections. Revenue estimator Blain Keith told commissioners that by the end of March 92.8 percent of the general fund budgeted revenue had been collected. That number was 87.9 percent at the same time last year.


Keith reminded the court, “As you recall last year the auditor said she would be conservative in budgeting because we didn’t know what the economic situation was. Fortunately the collections have been as good as we hoped and ahead of where we were last year. And it’s much nicer to tell you that than tell you the opposite.”


The collections are based upon county property taxes. In a memo to the court, County Auditor Susan Spataro wrote, “Tax receipts are as good as we hoped and better than we budgeted.”


Spataro did warn that there is a chance that a $2.85 million tax rebate to the Domain and the potential additional tax liability from previous years could ultimately lower this rate some.


Keith told commissioners the quarterly payment to the City of Austin for central booking was down slightly but only because it came in a few days after the March deadline. He noted the largest of the Special Revenue Funds, Road and Bridge, was also doing well. “If you take their two main sources, auto revenue and fines, they’re coming out pretty close to what we’ve budgeted. At the end of the first six months it seems to be where it should.”


Last year Travis County didn’t have a good revenue year for parks because of the weather – this year they’re hoping for a bit more of a boost. That money comes in during the second half of the year.


Keith also pointed out that this year the Exposition Center Fund is no longer scheduled to receive a transfer from the General Fund and that it doesn’t appear such a transfer will be necessary, as revenue from the Exposition Center is also on pace to meet projections.  Although the percentage of revenue collected for that fund is down comparatively, a biker rally later in the year will bring in revenue that’s been shifted to the second half of the year. Keith noted that the county recently received a $150,000 payment from the rodeo just after the books closed as well. “We’re getting really good budgets out of there now,” he summarized.


This is the first step in the budget process. The county is now collecting departmental budgets, and further revenue estimates will come in next month. Keith called this “just a broad-based painting,” with more detail to come in June.


Pct. 2 Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt called the brief “good news in a time of bad news.” She told In Fact Daily that these projections do not necessarily indicate any changes in the economy as much as they do the auditor’s ability to forecast accurate projections.

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