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Bristol, Virginia Comissioner of Revenue admits mistake, but it turns out positive for city

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BRISTOL, Va. - A city strapped for cash gets a major break. What was considered a nearly $2 million dollar loss on Tuesday now looks like a surplus for Bristol, Virginia.

At the City Council's budget workshop meeting Tuesday night, Commissioner of Revenue Terry Frye presented a report showing the city's property tax income revenue came in much lower than projected.

"I began to realize there had to be something wrong," Frye says. "Wednesday we looked up the entries, ran the numbers and came up with substantially different numbers."

So instead of losing $1.7 million dollars in tax collection revenue, the city should produce about $200,000 more than originally projected.

"I quickly found the problem," Frye tells News 5. "I got back to the city manager in less than 24 hours and in less than 48 hours, we got the problem fixed."

Frye says the error was a result of entering the assessed values of the Lowes and Cabelas properties at The Falls Plaza into the tax column, which caused the incorrect number.

"It's a mistake, a human mistake," city councilman Doug Fleenor says. "I wish it didn't happen but it did and God blessed us with the true numbers coming out."

Frye says there were more property appeals this year than he can ever remember, and The Board of Equalization is still dealing with 10 property assessment appeals. That means the final tax collection revenue won't be released until next week.

"Monday we get the new number," city councilman Kevin Mumpower says. "Hopefully it's what they said today, close to that number of $200,000 and then we can start digging into the expenses and see what it'll take to balance the budget."

Frye's latest projections show a $208,000 dollar surplus than what they originally projected, but says that could change when the Board of Equalization is finished with their appeals. However, Frye says he doesn't believe the number will change very much at all.

If you'd like to participate in the budget talks, the city council will hear public comment at its next regularly scheduled meeting, and then again on May 23.

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