‘Robust’ recovery fuels city budget surplus

Six months into the fiscal year Sonoma is “in the black,” according to City Manager Carol Giovanatto, as the city rides several trends that suggest a rebounding local economy.

The city budget shows a $473,500 balance after spending $5.98 million through December. No year-end deficit is expected.

“Revenue recovery is robust,” Giovanatto reported to the city council. “The major revenue sources for the general fund are showing a healthy economic recovery.”

Positive trends include a jump in hotel room tax revenue, which shows a 19 percent gain over this point last year. Additionally, sales tax collections are significantly higher than in prior fiscal years, Giovanatto said. The city’s average quarterly increase is up by 9.3 percent, outpacing the state (8.1 percent increase), other Northern California cities (7.4 percent) and Southern California cities (8.6 percent).

The sales tax numbers will look even better when the city begins receiving proceeds from Measure J. That .5 percent increase went in to effect in October, but reimbursement from the state takes several months.

The Real Estate Transfer Tax is at 65 percent of budget at midyear, reflecting a much improved real estate market. Property tax collections were also stronger than budgeted.

Managing expenses is also part of the equation, Giovanatto said. “We’ve had overall good management of expenditures by all city departments.”

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