- Last Updated on Friday, 25 January 2013 08:25
- Published on Wednesday, 01 June 2011 00:06
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The Budget and Administration Committee chaired by Sparky Ridgely tackled several issues important to the town and town schools at its May meeting.
Town Council has not yet passed a 2011/2012 budget as of the May meeting. The deadline is June 30 for passage of a new budget. The school system is unable to pass a budget or have yearly employee contracts signed until council agrees on funding for the school system and decides whether or not to provide additional money to fund requested staff raises.
Donna Power, School Superintendent and Tim Trivett, School Board Chairman, have appeared before council for the last two months requesting
council level fund the schools in the amount of $1.7 million and requesting an additional 1 percent or 3 percent raise for school employees. Council has already authorized raises for town employees, which will be allocated according to length of service.
The school division has created several budget scenarios for 2011/2012, and all scenarios include funding shortfalls and proposed cuts to transportation staff positions. The full budget for the schools is expected to total approximately $6 million, with the bulk of the budget provided by state and federal funds.
During discussion, Ridgely asked Trivett “The raise we put in the budget is the only raise your staff is going to get this year. Is that correct?” To which Trivett answered “That’s correct.”
Town Manager Val Foulds informed the committee that there would be approximately $77,900 in the proposed budget that could be used to fund the raises. That amounts comes from savings from an unfilled position and other local savings measures.
Council member Gary Seeber reminded the committee that Westmoreland County Supervisors have agreed to allocate $.25 per $100 collected in personal property taxes to county schools. Because Town of Colonial Beach local government collects Westmoreland County personal property taxes, that will result in an extra $.25 per $100 in unexpended funds collected by the town. Seeber recommended the committee recommend council advertise and authorize a $.25 per $100 increase in personal property taxes. For town residents, personal property taxes will remain the same as last year and the additional $.25 per $100 collected could be a “significant portion of funds for raises to school staff” said Seeber.
Seeber further recommended the committee look to reinstate a personal property tax on boats. Levying a personal property tax on boat owners has been much debated on previous town councils and generated much citizen debate. According to Seeber, an important consideration for reinstating the boat tax is that the town has failed to collect $1.39 per $100 of personal property tax for watercraft in Colonial Beach that is due to Westmoreland County.
The committee also discussed requested refunds to town businesses of fees paid to the town for loudspeaker permits. The previous 2010 noise ordinance in effect for approximately three months required residents and business owners to procure permits in order to use a loudspeaker system. The current noise ordinance does not utilize pay to play permits, but relies on decibel levels to identify illegal noise levels.
Council member Karen Payne said “It sets a bad precedent.” to refund loudspeaker permit fees. It was the consensus of the committee that if refunds were issued, they would have to be issued to all residents and businesses that complied with the permit process and paid permit fees and the refunds could only be issued by passing an town ordinance. The majority of council members present at the committee meeting were not in favor of issuing refunds.
Foulds reported to the committee that it was her recommendation that funds received for sale of town properties be earmarked for use only on Capital Improvement Projects and not used as town operating funds. Foulds was instructed to prepare a resolution for presentation to council in June.
Foulds also reported on a grant application under Safe Routes to School legislation that would provide $50,000 for sidewalk, curb and gutter repair near the elementary school. Council is expected to pass a resolution at its June meeting to aid in procurement of the grant.