Real estate tax dives

While Coupeville appears to be meeting its budget projections in most areas, it’s falling short in real estate.

The town isn’t raking in as much money as expected from the Real Estate Excise Tax. Officials had budgeted to receive $56,000 in 2009. However, the amount collected through November stands at only $38,000.

Officials budgeted to collect a smaller amount in 2009 than in previous years due to the recession. However, the amount coming in is well below even that reduced expectation. The town collected nearly $86,000 in 2006, more than $87,000 in 2007 and approximately $54,000 in 2008.

Mayor Nancy Conard said during Tuesday’s Town Council meeting that the lesser revenue is a reflection of the current crummy real estate climate. She said new incentives approved by Congress to encourage people to buy homes, which might spark an increase in the REET.

Conard said the town is required to use real estate tax money for capital projects. Revenue is placed in a fund to help pay for future projects.

Other funding sources for the town’s coffers have been somewhat stable.

Conard said that through November, the town collected $292,000 in sales tax, which is close to projections.

“It looks like we will easily make the $300,000 budget mark,” the mayor said.

The town has seen its sales tax collections decline in recent years. From 2004 to 2007, sales tax revenue increased from $308,000 to $476,000, helped along by several large construction projects, such as the new Coupeville High School. Since then, collections have declined each year to the current low.

The 2 percent Hotel/Motel Tax also showed similar stability. Although budgeted to collect $15,000, it looks like it will be closer to $20,000, similar to recent years.

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