Budget hearing is Monday night

Published 2:26 pm Thursday, April 13, 2017

Supervisors in Buckingham County will hear public comment during a hearing Monday at 7 p.m. regarding their proposed operating budget for fiscal year (FY) 2017-18 — one that includes no tax increases.

Supervisors voted to adopt the budget for advertisement Thursday, March 16.

The real estate tax rate, if approved, will remain at 55 cents per $100 of assessed value — along with the personal property, machinery and tools and merchant’s capital levies, and all others.

The 6-1 motion in March to approve the proposed budget for advertisement came after District Four Supervisor Morgan Dunnavant proposed to drop the real estate tax rate to 53 cents. Dunnavant’s motion — which failed — drew support from only District Three Supervisor Don Matthews.

Dunnavant was the sole supervisor to vote against advertising the proposed budget.

The hearing for the $47.6 million budget will be held as part of the rescheduled regular board of supervisors meeting Monday night.

Rebecca S. Carter

Regarding the overall budget, County Administrator Rebecca S. Carter, in her memorandum regarding her proposed budget, noted, “This breaks down to an unrestricted beginning year balance of $4.2 million, a committed economic development beginning year balance of $681,385, Gene Dixon Park Reserve of $100,000, fire and rescue reserve (of) $40,000, solid waste site reserve (of) $150,000 (new), proposed library debt service (of) $250,000, reserve for social services vehicle (of) $16,116.00, $3,000 (for) Social Services legal fees and ($540,427 for) reserve for contingency for a total ending year balance of $6,110,428.”

She said the county’s reserve for contingency “is where the money is put that we receive from the tax increase and any additional revenue to reserve for future uses and anticipated increased responsibilities over the next several years.”

At the start of the board’s budget work session with members of the county’s school board, the reserve’s fund balance began at $669,927, but ended up being drawn down to $540,427. During the meeting, supervisors agreed to take money from the reserve in the proposed FY 2017-18 budget for a handful of changes, including setting aside additional funds for the Christian Outreach Program and Pregnancy Center in Arvonia, an additional $97,000 to cover county employees’ increased share of health insurance costs and $30,000 for the sheriff’s office to increase some staff salaries.

According to Carter’s memorandum, “This is a decrease of $36,256 from the present budget. This is the money that is available for future needs that can be used without taking the budget out of balance. I have recommended a new reserve of $150,000 for solid waste site development/repairs.”

According to Carter, the requested 2017-18 school operating budget is based on an average daily membership (ADM) of 1,900 students. “This is the same ADM as used in the present budget,” Carter said.

“The school budget does not request any additional local money,” Carter said in the memorandum.

According to Carter, the school is facing $176,269 less in federal money for the upcoming fiscal year, while revenue from the state is $45,397 more than the current fiscal year budget. She added local school receipted money and local reserved funding are also less.

“Their operational local money is the same,” Carter said during an interview regarding the school budget.

School operations, according to the advertised budget, total $24.3 million.

“The requested school total local request is $50,333 less due to the school software and school (special education) vehicles reserves,” Carter said in her memorandum to supervisors.

“The requested school budget demonstrates a total operational decrease of $249,197 and a cafeteria increase of $71,440 resulting in a total expenditure budget reduction of $177,757.”

The budget also calls for a two-percent pay increase “to all county employees and all county employees that are state/county but is not being provided the pay increase by the state.”

According to Carter, the budget has a fixed charge of $90,000 reserved to allow the pay raises. “Included in this $90,000 is $41,154 that is being reimbursed by the state,” Carter said. “So the actual local money is $48,846. This is a $33,154 reduction in local money from the present year.     This does not include Social Services that is included in their budget. The employees are realizing a 19-percent health insurance increase.”