Cumberland County supervisors look to set budget

Published 4:14 am Tuesday, April 11, 2023

CUMBERLAND – The proposed budget for Cumberland County would keep the real estate tax rate at 75 cents per $100 of valued property. 

That would still be the highest in this region by far. Appomattox County is second at 63 cents, with Charlotte County at 62 cents. Prince Edward supervisors will vote this week on a plan to possibly increase their tax rate to 51 cents, which would put them tied with Amelia County. 

Lunenburg County is the lowest in the region at 38 cents and Nottoway is second at 48 cents. 

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The public hearing for this vote was held on Tuesday, April 11, during the board’s meeting at 7 p.m. The final vote will be taken next week, during a meeting on Tuesday, April 18. 

Highlights from the Cumberland County budget

Cumberland County Administrator Derek Stamey put this together, considering the state budget and requests from agencies in the county. 

As for the real estate tax rate, officials say most residents won’t see a change.  

“Some may see a decrease, some will see it the same, some may see an uptick but it will be minute,” said Stamey. 

Looking at raises, the budget includes a 5% pay increase across the board for county staff and the county will absorb the 8.17% increase in health insurance. According to Board of Supervisors Chair Brian Stanley, even though the county can’t afford a bigger raise, absorbing some of the cost is like a “hidden paycheck” to help out employees. Other expenses include maintaining competitiveness for public safety positions and fully funding services for emergency medical services, leveling funding for the volunteer fire department and meeting the funding obligation for the school system. The budget also absorbs the one-time expenditure related to the reassessment contract. 

One beneficial change is adding a part-time animal control officer. The county currently has two officers that are currently working hard to keep up with the demand. 

“Animal Control, those guys have been worn out,” said Stanley. “I think a large aspect of that is our county population has grown so they’re getting more calls from people and putting houses in areas that didn’t have any before.”

There are some savings as the debt services fund has gone down after the debt restructuring saving about $90,000. The county will have to eventually reach back in there for the radio system probably next year, but this year is seeing some savings. 

Minor adjustments are expected for the budget as the state is still working to complete theirs for the year. 

Highlights from the CIP

Over the next 25 years, there are 76 projects requested from staff and schools and just under $55 million in funding. Looking this far ahead will help the county as they look into grants for upcoming projects since they know what is coming up. The state requires the county to balance the Capital Improvement Plan for the next five years, which is also open for comments during this week-long public hearing. 

The CIP for the next five years is $300,000 which includes $125,000 in vehicle replacements, $30,000 in IT improvements, and $145,000 in site improvements which were requested. This does include the $2 million in school capital funding anticipated from the Commonwealth of Virginia and its resources. 

The county staff will continue looking into decreasing debt and monitoring solar and other beneficial projects for its residents.