ATLANTA -- FLorida reported Monday that incoming state revenue collections should increase by $179.9 million in fiscal 1993 because of added sales taxes generated by insurance payments to victims of Hurricane Andrew.
This is the state's first formal estimate of revenues since Andrew hit southern Florida in late August and caused massive destruction.
Officials said the additional revenues should more than offset hurricane-related expenses this fiscal year, which ends June 30.
The added revenues "will cover all agreed-upon matching funds that are due from the federal government and anything else anybody can think of right now," Edward Montanaro, director of the state Legislature's division of economic and demographic research, said yesterday.
According to the state revenue estimating conference forecast completed on Monday, Florida can now anticipate taking in $12.04 billion during fiscal 1993. This is $179.9 million more than the $11.86 billion in the state's last official revenue estimate, which occurred in July.
Additional revenues attributable to the hurricane totaled $203.2 million, according to the report. Without the hurricane, the report says, the state could actually expect to take in only $11.84 billion -- or $23.3 million less than estimated in July -- because of decreased corporate income taxes and real estate transfer taxes in the wake of a sluggish economic recovery.
The report attributes most of the gain from the hurricane to an expected $198.5 million boost in sales taxes that will result in massive spending in the state by storm victims as they receive insurance reimbursement.
Hurricane Andrew will also have a small impact on other state tax collections, the report says, with real estate transfer tax receipts increasing $2.4 million, intangible tax collections rising by $1.5 million, and medical hospital fees going up by $900,000.
The latest revenue estimating conference expects only one state revenue source to be hurt by the hurricane, with parimutuel betting tax receipts expected to be $400,000 less.
Montanaro cautioned that the increased revenues will be partially offset by more than 100 million in expenses that the state will have to bear in order to receive federal disaster aid.
He said state officials now estimate that Florida will have to put up about $62 million of its own funds to cover unanticipated individual and family grants and about $33 million for public assistance. Also, he said, additional Medicaid payments could total about $15 million, and the state's payments to the federal Aid for Families with Dependent Children could add another $6 million.
"Our totals in this area are only preliminary because we do not know who is going to walk into the tent" by the time all costs for the Hurricane Andrew are tallied, Montanaro said. "But people are pretty confident right now that the expenses will be covered" by the added revenue, he noted.
Rating agency officials said yesterday that the new revenue estimates bode well for the state as it recovers from the hurricane.
"We are not surprised that Hurricane Andrew appears to be causing some stimulative effect in the economy that will result in some increased tax collections," said Robert Kurtter, an assistant vice president at Moody's Investors Service. "Right now, it looks like this will be a net plus when expenses from the hurricane are taken into effect."
At Standard & Poor's Corp., Jon Reichert, a director, said, "It seems like the state is not going to be hurt by the hurricane in terms of revenues, and that is good news. The question now is whether there will be any eventual windfall and whether it will be directed to Dade County."
The revenue estimating conference also predicted that the hurricane would boost expected tax collections for the state's 1994 fiscal year.
According to the report, Hurricane Andrew will lift expected fiscal 1994 revenues by $298.1 million, including a $290.4 million boost given to sales taxes and $4 million to real estate transfer taxes.
Without the hurricane, the report finds, expected state revenues would have dropped $46.3 million to $12.86 billion in fiscal 1994 because of downward revisions in estimates for corporate income taxes and real estate transfer taxes.
The next revenue estimate for fiscal years 1993 and 1994 will be made in January.