City offers layman’s guide to FY15 budget

Posted: July 9, 2014

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — For the average resident interested in city finances, sifting through the mass of numbers in the budget can become an exercise in futility. So, as it did last year, the city has released the Budget in Brief, a layman’s guide to understanding the key points of the fiscal year 2015 budget.

The Budget in Brief includes a comparison between the fiscal year 2014 and 2015 budgets, a breakdown of the city’s revenue sources, a list of capital-improvement projects with their accompanying allocations, and a graphic depicting how each taxpayer’s dollar is divvied up between departments. It is available online at winchesterva.gov/finance/budget.

The City Council approved a $209,779,268 budget for FY2015 — $1,684,082 more than FY2014.

About 67 percent, or $141 million, of the budget is allocated to the general fund (about $82 million) — which the council has the greatest discretion over — and the school division (about $59 million).

Capital improvement projects account for $28,285,000, of which $25 million was carried over from FY2014 as bond proceeds for two projects: construction of a new John Kerr Elementary School ($20 million) and the proposed public safety communications project ($5 million).

Other capital projects funded through FY2015’s general fund balance include $950,000 for sidewalk improvements and road repaving, $700,000 for the National Avenue Gateway Project, $350,000 for the extension of Meadow Branch Avenue and $300,000 for Rouss City Hall brick repairs.

Taxpayers contribute 81 percent of the general fund through a combination of general property taxes (made up of real estate, personal property and machinery and tools taxes, totaling about $37.6 million), and other local taxes, such as the state sales, meals and communications taxes (about $28.9 million).

Winchester receives 1 percent of the 5.3 percent state sales tax for purchases made here. In FY2014, it received about $8.7 million through the sales tax.

Other funding sources for the general fund include state and federal aid, interest, transfers and reserves, fees and fines, and charges for services.

The projected fund balance for this past fiscal year is $20,745,771.

One of the last pages of the brief includes a picture of a one-dollar bill with the heading “Your Tax Dollar at Work.”

For every taxpayer’s dollar, 44 cents — including 10 cents for debt services — funds education. Public safety gets 23 cents, 9 cents funds public works and 7 cents funds general government. The remaining 17 cents is allocated between health and human services, judicial administration, parks and recreation and culture, city debt service and community development.

— Contact Derek Gomes at dgomes@winchesterstar.com