No tax increases proposed

Published 7:25 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Prince Edward County residents will see no tax increases if County Administrator Wade Bartlett’s proposed fiscal year (FY) 2017-18 county operating budget — one that he presented to the county board of supervisors on Tuesday — is adopted.

This comes a year after the board approved a 2-cent real estate tax increase.

Bartlett’s proposed budget — one that will take effect once approved by supervisors — also includes $123,802 in additional funds for the county’s public schools and a 2-percent pay increase for all county employees.

The recommended budget totals $53.4 million.

Bartlett said the budget was composed using the existing operating budget as an outline.

“Using the (FY) 17 budget as a starting point … what that does is draw in all of the past decisions by the board to carry into fiscal year 18,” Bartlett said. “One of the largest and most profound decisions made by the board was in (FY) 15 where we cut almost $500,000. So, we’re carrying that forward.”

Bartlett said the 2-percent pay increase would follow state guidelines and is not contingent on revenues. The increase will cost the county an additional $102,870.

Wade Bartlett

Bartlett said he recommended the county schools receive a 1.5 percent increase in local funding.

“That’s not exactly what they requested, but that’s what I felt is fair given all of the other funds and what we could afford,” Bartlett said.

The school board requested a $316,996 increase from supervisors compared to their current operating budget.

He noted the school budget totals $25.7 million with approximately $8.45 million coming from local funds.

Bartlett also noted significant expenditures in his proposed budget, including $120,000 for the sheriff’s office to purchase three new cars, $32,350 to purchase new computers and printers, $200,000 to purchase a new computer-aided dispatch/reporting system and $70,000 to purchase new voting machines.

Bartlett recommended in his proposed budget that all but three outside organizations would receive the same funding as they have in the current fiscal year.

The three organizations with changes include the Pamplin Community Center, Piedmont Senior Resources and the Virso Recreation Center. The two centers will receive no funding in the proposed budget, and Piedmont Senior Resources will receive an increase of $4,328.

Bartlett said there was an increase in general property revenues of $283,537. Of that amount, $114,537 comes from real estate levies, $60,000 comes from public service corporation levies and $100,000 coming from personal property taxes.

The board also voted unanimously to begin the process of changing county employee health insurance funds, which are currently being managed by the Local Choice Program, to being self-funded. The board has until June to make a final decision on the change.

Buffalo District Supervisor C.R. “Bob” Timmons Jr. said the change — which would leave insurance claims to be paid by the county — could potentially save the county $200,000 annually.

A joint public hearing regarding the school and county budgets will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18. The budgets for both could be adopted Tuesday, April 25.