Prince Edward supervisors look to keep tax rate steady

Published 8:50 am Friday, April 12, 2024

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The good news starts early and keeps going in Prince Edward County’s proposed budget. Overall revenue is up in the area, both from real estate and sales tax receipts. That translates into a proposed 3% cost of living raise for all county employees and a plan that keeps the real estate tax rate at 0.51 cents per $100 of assessed value. 

As we said, the budget proposed by County Administrator Doug Stanley shows revenue up $511,857 or roughly 1.7% in Prince Edward. That’s a climb from $30.776 million to $31.288 million. Part of that comes from sales tax, which took a slight increase, from $3.8 million to $4 million this past year. That doesn’t count the money collected from those coming in to watch multiple rounds of the NCAA Division III Tournament at Hampden-Sydney College, which hosted up through the Elite Eight. There was also a slight uptick in real estate tax revenue, going from $9.52 million to $9.75 million. 

Stanley pointed out that he didn’t include any funds from the ICA Farmville partnership in this, as he wants to set that money aside for capital improvement projects. As part of the county’s new deal to partner with the facility, Prince Edward gets payments that go up or down, based on how many detainees are housed at a given point. 

Some things remain the same 

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The proposed budget offers some counters to requests for funding. Pamplin, Meherrin, Darlington Heights, Farmville, Rice, Prospect and Hampden-Sydney fire departments all asked for $85,000 each in funding. The proposed budget would give each $80,000 instead. Prince Edward Rescue Squad wanted $110,000 and the county countered with $98,000. 

In other funding areas, supervisors declined to fund the Virginia Children’s Book Festival, while also trimming the YMCA’s support from the requested $60,000 to $30,000 instead. Virginia Cooperative Extension asked for $85,024 from the county and will get $75,000 under this proposal. Crossroads Community Services, meanwhile, asked for $75,000 and will get $130,868. 

The proposed budget would also see the county’s part-time tourism coordinator position become a full-time spot, along with the third animal control position. The proposal also increases the vehicle maintenance budget at the sheriff’s office, going from $75,000 to $100,000. 

Let’s talk about Prince Edward schools 

And now we come to the part of the budget involving Prince Edward County Schools. The district officials asked for $10,989,342 in local funding for the upcoming year. That’s an increase of $892,971 from the $10,096,371 given by the county for this term. The school district would use the money for two additional teaching positions, one additional teacher at the Governor’s School and to cover their share of the 3% teacher and staff raises called for by the General Assembly. 

Stanley argued that all of the requested money likely wasn’t needed, given examples over the last five years. 

“In looking at the last five fiscal years, we have underspent the school budget by at least $1.6 million each year,” Stanley wrote in the budget proposal. 

He suggested the county only give a $250,000 increase to schools, rather than the $892,971 extra they wanted. If need be, he pointed out, the county could pay the extra out of the general fund, if the school district actually spent all of its remaining budget  and did end up needing more. 

Supervisors declined to follow Stanley’s advice. Instead, the proposed budget as it stands would fully fund all requests from the school district, giving them the $10,989,342 asked for. 

What’s coming next? 

This proposed budget will now go to a public hearing, currently scheduled for next Tuesday, April 16, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors Room. That’s on the third floor of the county courthouse, located at 111 South Street in Farmville. 

Once that’s finished, then a final vote on the budget will be set for Tuesday, April 23, beginning at 7 p.m. in the same location.