Willard believes the city is destined for a $690,686 surplus at the fiscal year’s end.


By Jimmy Isaac

Longview City Manager David Willard is predicting a nearly $700,000 surplus when the 2012 budget year ends, as better-than-hoped-for collection of late property taxes might make up for flattening sales tax revenue.

“I really think we’re doing well,” Willard told city council members on May 10. “It is troubling that sales tax has flattened out like it has, but we do have some room there for the end of the year.”

The city is operating on a $155.2 million budget for Fiscal Year 2012, which ends Sept. 30. For every $5 of that budget, $2 is coming from the city’s general fund, while 11 percent, or $17.3 million, is dedicated to paying down municipal debts.

But despite general expenses predicted to reach more than $62.7 million, Willard estimates the city will collect nearly $4 million fewer in revenue.

Sales taxes and property taxes each account for at least one-third of the general fund budget. Sales taxes, while expected to post a nearly $140,000 increase compared to the $20.25 million collected in FY 2011, appears that it will fall short of Willard’s original budget estimate by at least $315,000. Meanwhile, Willard expects property taxes to outpace original estimates by more than $340,000, bolstered by a 97.5 percent collection of delinquent property taxes earlier this year.

“We’re having a really good year on property tax collections,” Willard said.

Combined with better-than-expected revenues in franchise taxes, fines and fees, plus about $370,000 savings in expenses, Willard believes the city is destined for a $690,686 surplus at the fiscal year’s end.

While the City of Tyler has announced salary freezes this month because of flat sales tax revenue, the City of Longview believes it will end FY 2012 with a surplus and a fund balance of $12.77 million that amounts to more than two months’ operating expenses even after setting aside $3.2 million for employee and firefighter pension payments.