Where does DC stand when it comes to nontax revenue: What do the numbers tell?

Last month the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) issued an updated report on the District’s general purpose nontax revenue, which is largely comprised of charges for services, fees and fines. Nontax Study Report – 2015. We further compared the revenue composition of the District’s General Fund to that of five neighboring jurisdictions: the City of Alexandria, VA; Arlington County, VA; Fairfax County, VA; Montgomery County, MD; and Prince George’s County, MD. Intergovernmental transfers/revenue, such as payments from the federal and state/local governments are excluded from this analysis since our focus is on District generated revenue. For those who haven’t read about the results of the study as reported in the Washington Business Journal, here is another chance.

The District appears to rely heavily on non-tax revenue sources, such as, fines and fees, when compared with neighboring jurisdictions. Based on our analysis, the significance of nontax revenue seems to be dependent on the level of government under consideration, i.e. whether it is a city, a county or a state. D.C.’s unique character may have contributed to this.Local revenue comparison chart-2014

The percentage share of non-tax revenue in the District has been relatively stable, varying between 13 percent and 16 percent of the total General Fund revenue over the period FY 2005 – FY 2014. In terms of dollars however, it looks like the city’s non-tax revenue has gone up by about 27 percent.General Fund CompositionPercentage Increase NT-FY 2014We also looked at the trend of the top ten nontax revenue sources to see if there was a single source of revenue driving the majority share of the 27 percent increase. We found that collections from Emergency Ambulance Fees, Traffic Fines and Building Permits were the leaders each growing at an average rate of 17%, 8.2%, and 8% respectively.

Traffic related fines however consistently topped the list during the past ten years, FY 2005 – FY 2014. The table below presents the top 10 revenue sources in the order of the share they contributed to the total non-tax revenue base.Top 10 NT revenue - FY 2014We will have a series of posts diving into these top 10 non-tax revenue sources in the upcoming few months.

What exactly is this data? The above analysis is based on the District’s Annual Operating Budget for fiscal years 2005-2014 and the FY 2014 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (CAFR). Non-tax revenue is income earned by a government from sources other than taxes such as fees and fines. The rankings are calculated based on the total amount of actual revenue reported for each non-tax revenue source within the District’s system of Accounting and Reporting (SOAR) which was later rolled over into the CAFR. The dollar amount reported for Traffic Fines above is inclusive of past due collections of outstanding traffic related tickets by the District’s Central Collection Unit (CCU).

2 thoughts on “Where does DC stand when it comes to nontax revenue: What do the numbers tell?

  1. Reblogged this on Washington DC History Resources and commented:
    District of Columbia – Non-Tax Revenue Report – 9/2015http://cfo.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/ocfo/publication/attachments/Non-Tax%20Revenue%20Report%20_September%202015.pdf — summaries of more than 150 non-tax revenue sources — lots of details on fees, esp. permit fees by type. The numbers do look very strange.

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