The city collected $2.5 million, a million more than what was projected, from its tax lien sale held last Thursday.
“It’s always better knowing we have a million dollar more than what we budgeted for,” said mayor Andre Sayegh on Monday morning.
His administration had included $1.5 million in revenue from tax lien sales in its fiscal 2019 budget.
The city is seeking $40 million in transitional aid from the state government to close its massive budget shortfall. A big chunk of the shortfall is driven by a one-time surplus former mayor Jose “Joey” Torres used to balance his budget last fiscal year. He avoided a tax levy increase in his last year in office.
If the state provides the full $40 million, the city may have a $1 million surplus. In theory this could reduce the 2-percent tax increase, $3 million, by a third.
“I don’t think that’s going to result in any tax relief,” said Michael Jackson, 1st Ward councilman. “You still don’t know what the transitional aid is going to be.”
“It’s a million more than what’s anticipated. That’s good news,” said councilman William McKoy. “It’s my hope that it be used to reduce the burden on taxpayers.”
Municipal officials cautioned against any thought of a tax levy reduction.
“It’s a hypothetical situation,” said Sayegh.
Some have argued, city taxpayers have to contribute $3 million in order for the state to provide $40 million.
Flavio Rivera, councilman at-large, said it provides some relief to the budget. Now, the city could increase that revenue line from $1.5 to $2.5 million. He expressed skepticism the state would hand the city full transitional aid request.
It’s unlikely to result in tax relief, said Rivera.