Friday, February 17, 2006

Funding hits a snag

Less than two weeks after the DC Council unanimously first passed the bill to fund modernization of DCPS facilities at the tune of billions things are starting to go a bit pear shaped. The $100 million a year revenue source for the modernization was supposed to come from an expected increase in sales tax revenues. The problem? According to the latest forecasts from DC CFO Natwar Gandhi that increase is projected to be only $45 million a year.
D.C. Council Member Kathy Patterson, D-Ward 3, chair of the council's education committee, said while the estimates were discouraging, they don't necessarily mean the bill is dead.

"The good news is there is more new revenue; the bad news is it isn't a bigger number," Patterson said.

Patterson and Evans said they expect to have the $100 million by the end of the fiscal year but will also recommend an increase to the deed recordation and transfer taxes as "a backstop" should the city not collect enough sales tax. A 0.10 cent increase in the tax raises an estimated $34 million annually, officials said.

"I am confident the District's economy will continue to grow and we will not need to increase the deed recordation and transfer taxes," Evans said. "But it is important to provide assurances to our public school system that the council's commitment to school modernization is steadfast."
The final vote by the Council is expected on March the 7th, and the prospect of having to raise taxes have some Council members rethinking their stance.

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