One of the more interesting aspects of the interim financial report for April, 2023 (just released by the County Clerk) is that although the bulk of the property taxes for 2023 have already been collected, overall county revenues have continued to grow.
Charges for county services like permits, impact fees, etc. are up $9.3 million from the previous month. Late filing property taxes are up $9.5 million and other revenue sources like sales taxes, infrastructure tax, gasoline tax, infrastructure tax, franchise fees, state revenue sharing and interest income on the county’s cash pile of $1.611 billion are up an additional $26.5 million for the month.
As a result, even though expenses are up for April, the year-to-date surplus for fiscal 2023 comes in at a very elevated $197.0 million down only $1.0 million from the YTD surplus of the previous month. Furthermore, capital spending for the first seven months annualizes out to $155.0 million - well below the capital spending average of the last two fiscal years of approximately $198.5 million.
As a result, I am predicting that the surplus for fiscal ’23 will come in at or around $150.0 million indicating that approximately 45% of the property taxes collected in fiscal ’23 will not be spent and instead of circulating within Manatee County’s economy will languish inside a short-term fixed-income fund providing very little direct benefit to Manatee County taxpayers and citizens. This surplus will join the cash pile already on deposit of $1.53 billion as of September, 2022 and add to the cumulative surplus accrued over the last six years of $970.9 million.
September is budget approval month, and Manatee County citizens should speak out resolutely for a substantial millage cut of at least .5 mills and/ or a variable tax credit applied to fiscal ’24 property taxes.
Mike Meehan, CFA, MBA
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