Tax increase-free budget hearing is Tuesday

Published 2:23 pm Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors will hold a joint public hearing regarding the county’s fiscal year (FY) 2017-18 proposed budget and the school budget Tuesday at 7:30 p.m in the courthouse.

The county’s budget includes no tax increases, an increase of $123,802 in the school division’s budget and a 2-percent pay increase for all county employees. The proposed budget totals $53.4 million.

County Administrator Wade Bartlett, during his budget presentation March 28, said the 2-percent increase would follow state guidelines and is not contingent on revenues.

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

Wade Bartlett

“Using the fiscal year 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 fiscal year 15 where we cut almost $500,000. So, we’re carrying that forward.”

Another change carried into the current budget was the $150,000 charitable donation cap. Criteria for that cap, which was approved in June, established a new spending limit through FY19.

“Everything that we have presented is in the best interest of our students and growing our programs,” Division Superintendent Dr. Barbara Johnson said during a budget work session April 4. “That’s what we’re really interested in — making sure we provide that which is necessary but also that which is an extension of their growth.”

During the work session, Johnson asked supervisors to reconsider the requested funding increase, given that she was thankful for what increase the schools were given in the proposed advertised budget, but that the schools were still looking at an increase to cover the $314,639 shortfall from lower state and federal funds.

“We are continuing to work to determine what our savings will be perhaps by the end of this year,” Johnson said. “We are continuing to see what we can take care of this year to make sure we trim our budget as much as possible without disrupting the overall integrity of the budget.”

The increased requested school funding includes hiring a part-time public relations manager to combat, what Johnson termed, a sometimes-negative perspective of the division. The budget also calls for combatting turnover and a new guidance counselor that would work between the middle and high school.

Following Johnson’s presentation, the board discussed criteria and regulations that were previously adopted regarding funding non- county agencies and organizations. That criteria, which was approved in June, included that “the total amount reserved for allocation to such agencies will be no more than $150,000. The board of supervisors will establish a new spending limit for FY19 and beyond.”