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Property tax with an assessed valuation of $12.9 billion, according to the County of San Diego Assessors’ Office. Photo by Dan Brendel
Cities Community News Vista Vista Featured

Vista’s finances aligned with earlier budget projections

VISTA — With sales tax up 9.8% and increasing home values, the city’s financial outlook through the second quarter of the Fiscal Year 2020-21 is on track with its June 2020 budget projections.

Mike Sylvia, finance director for the City of Vista, reported to the Vista City Council during its March 9 meeting budget actuals and noting the status of property taxes and assessed home values have dramatically increased compared to the same period in FY 2019-20.

Much of the city’s revenues, though, have yet to be collected as, in some cases, there is a lag, while in others those revenue sources, such as property taxes, are heavier during the spring. Other revenues collected in July and August 2020 are related to the prior fiscal year, but are consistent with previous years and collection methods, Sylvia said.

“Specific to the General Fund, revenues and expenditures are consistent with the budget, even with the presence of the COVID pandemic,” he added. “It’s important to know a significant amount of cash receipts aren’t received at the same time.”

As of Dec. 31, 2020, the city received 37.6% of the General Fund Total Resources (revenues plus other financing sources) projected for the fiscal year, he said. The city had expended 40.9% of the total amount appropriated in the General Fund for the fiscal year.

The city has received $32.4 million (37.6%) in revenue from external sources, while the fiscal year’s budgeted adjusted total resources (revenue plus other financing sources) estimated for the General Fund is $86,354,103.

Adjusted estimated budgeted General Fund appropriations are $92.3 million with $37.7 million (40.9%) expended.

“This time last year when we were talking about our forecasted budget, it was scary,” said Councilman Joe Green. “Everything they did (staff) and looking at where we are now, it’s amazing.”

A bright spot for the city is property tax with an assessed valuation of $12.9 billion, according to the County of San Diego Assessors’ Office. The assessed valuation represents an increase of 5.68% compared to the 2019-20 fiscal year. As for property tax revenue, which the city collects, estimates are at $14.1 million.

The valuation of building permits issued in Vista for residential units totaled $60.9 million for the first six months of FY 2020-21 compared to $51.9 million for the first six months of FY 2019-20. For new non-residential buildings, the valuation of issued building permits totaled $8.7 million in FY 2020-21 compared to $1.1 million for the first six months of FY 2019-20.

Another win for the city was the increase in single-family detached median home prices in Vista increased 20.7% in December 2020 to $656,526 compared to $544,000 in December 2019. Single-family attached median home prices in the city increased 13.5% to $420,000 in December 2020 compared to $370,000 in December 2019.

Sales tax, meanwhile, saw a nice boost thanks, in part, due to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Wayfair v. South Dakota, which mandated nearly all out-of-state online retailers to collect and remit sales taxes, according to the staff report.

Sales tax collected by local businesses for the second quarter of FY 2020-21 totaled $5.1 million, a 9.8% increase over the same time for FY 2019-20. Staff attributed the increase due to “significantly increasing online sales transactions and the associated sales tax collection required,” as a result of the court decision.