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Board set to adopt proposed budget this week

The King George Board of Supervisors is scheduled to adopt the county’s $65,489,552 proposed 2013-14 budget at this week’s special meeting set for that purpose on Tuesday, April 23 (following our press time).

The budget proposal for the next fiscal year which begins on July 1 includes $35,603,036 for the School Board’s operating fund. The average daily membership (ADM) for the division is based on an estimate of 4,100 students. The division is projected to end the current school year with state funding based on 4,102 students. All school–related expenditures would come to $41,614,966, which is an increase of $1,790,465 over the current year.

The majority of Supervisors appeared to be in agreement on the budget proposal following a public hearing held last week on April 16. They included Joe Grzeika, Cedell Brooks and Chairman Dale Sisson.

John LoBuglio said that he would have preferred to have funded six new Emergency Medical Services (EMS) positions for Fairview Beach to start in August, but said he could “live with the funding in January.”

Ruby Brabo questioned the one-percent pay increases proposed for county employees in the Constitutional and Registrar’s Offices, saying she wanted, “to feel confident” that they would not have to amend the budget and fund higher percentages later.

That decision to go with the one-percent raises across the board had been reached after receiving legal advice from County Attorney Eric Gregory coupled with financial analysis from Director of Finance Donita Harper.

They had reported at a budget session on March 25 that the allocations for the varying percentage raises from the state, which adds up to funding for a certain number of positions at the state’s intended salary rates, can be distributed in the aggregate to provide raises for all employees within those offices.

There are more employees in each of the Constitutional Offices than are funded by the state, and the county’s pay scale provides higher salaries than those set by the state Compensation Board’s pay rates.

The proposed budget would allocate the equivalent of one- percent pay raises for all employees, using the state’s projected increased funding, along with local funds to make up the rest of the costs. County Administrator Travis Quesenberry clarified that department heads may decide to allocate the raises differently within their own departments. That would be in concert with the county’s pay-for-performance policies.

BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS
Quesenberry provided a pre-sentation prior to the public hearing noting the following highlights from the budget.
Six additional staff for Department of Emergency Services (funded for six months)
Funding for a new part-time position for General Properties (Library Custodian)
Funding to convert two part-time positions to full-time for Animal Control, and one part-time position to full-time for Parks & Recreation
Funding included for one-percent salary increases commencing on July 1, 2013, and one-percent for VRS requirement for a total of two-percent
Employees to pay a share of health insurance increases
Increased funding for maintenance, utilities and fuel
Increased funding for Social Services and Comprehensive Services Act
Funding included for four vehicles for Sheriff’s Office
Reduction in funding for seven outside agencies; no funding for new outside agencies
$100,000 use of General Fund Balance for one-time equipment purchases
$322,000 use of Revenue Stabilization Fund for Fire/Rescue positions, Animal Control positions, and one-percent pay increases
Increase in Ambulance Recovery Fees projected at $177,000
$596,476 for Capital Improvement Fund
$1,000,000 increase in local funding for School Division

PUBLIC COMMENT
Five people provided comments at a public hearing. Those speaking from the public included Debbie Fulton and Diane Drew from the Disability Resource Center asking for full funding of its outside agency’s request. Kim McManus, representing Rappahannock Community College, thanked the board for its continued support. Megan Cotter from MICA Ministries of Fredericksburg asked for support to fund its cold weather shelter for the homeless.

County resident Steve Durnford inquired about the half-year funding for six new EMS positions at the Fairview Beach Fire Department. He was told that the new permanent positions were intended to be filled by mid-year, following renovation of the firehouse at Fairview Beach.

TAX RATES
Following the budget hearing, Supervisors held a separate public hearing on tax rates, which proposed no changes.

After taking public comment, Supervisors unanimously readopted current real estate/mobile home tax rate of 53-cents per $100 valuation. Personal property taxes also remain unchanged at $3.20, with machinery & tools taxed at $2.50, both assessments per $100 of assessed valuation.

Three residents commented, with Jim Lynch and Warren Veazey saying they would welcome a tax increase. Lynch said it seemed to him that officials spent too much time worrying about how not to increase the tax rate, and not enough time worrying about what the county’s needs really are. Veazey said he thought that the schools and EMS were under-funded and equated higher home insurance rates with not enough funding for EMS.

Nadine Lucas commented that a survey had been left at her door and asked when the current assessment underway would take effect. That will happen on Jan. 1, 2014, to affect taxation amounts beginning with the June 2014 billing.

Phyllis Cook

 

 

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