Council Adopts 2021 Vienna Budget Lower Than Last Year's

Emily Leayman

VIENNA, VA — On Monday, Vienna Town Council adopted a $41 million budget for the next fiscal year beginning July 1. The budget represents a 0.4 percent decrease from the previous year.

The adopted budget accounts for four Town of Vienna funds: the general fund, debt service fund, water and sewer fund and stormwater fund. The $24.8 million general operating fund is about 7 percent lower than the one for the current fiscal year. The town's real estate tax rate of 22.5 cents per $100 of assessed value will remain the same, but assessment values will increase the average tax bill by $79. Fairfax County's $1.15 per $100 of assessed value rate is also unchanged.

According to a town news release, the financial impacts of the coronavirus crisis prompted officials make cuts to the operating budget. Anticipated revenue shortfalls impacting the general fund include parks and recreation fees, business licenses, state revenues and sales tax.

"Revenue is coming in much lower in some cases, and the Town has to cut expenses in order to balance the budget," said the town's Finance Director Marion Serfass in a statement.

Town officials addressed shortfalls by deferring salary increases, decreasing overtime allocations, freezing most positions, cutting parks and recreation contractor or staff costs, suspending staff travel, deferring snow equipment replacement and cutting $200,000 in departmental expenses.

The 0.4 percent decrease to the overall budget was minimized due to budgeted funds for debt service, water and sewer being higher. The water and sewer rates for the 2020-21 year will increase by 10.4 percent, leading the average bill to go up by $74.

Because meal tax revenues fund the town's debt service, the pandemic is expected to impact the fund. Meals tax revenues are down 10 percent in the current fiscal year, and cash reserves were used for a $300,000 shortfall for the current budget. The town expects to use reserves to cover shortfalls in next year's fund as well. Earlier this year, the town had issued $34.5 million in general obligation public improvement bonds to fund the new police station and other capital projects.

"We can’t cut the debt service budget," said Serfass. "This is money that the Town owes on its bonds. We do, however, thanks to the Town’s strong financial policies and practices, have options to address this need."

Due to the pandemic, uncertainty about revenue shortfalls and increased expenses will continue. Staff and council will monitor the budget on a monthly basis and could make other adjustments.

SEE ALSO: Fairfax Supervisors Vote Remotely To Adopt FY 2021 Budget

This article originally appeared on the Vienna Patch