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Last updateWed, 19 Nov 2014 8pm

   2014 39.95 HSD w VIDor PH-Banner2-500-x-125

Supervisors agree: No tax increases

Budget proposes 1% raises, $1M School Board increase

The King George Board of Supervisors tentatively agreed this week not to raise any taxes for the upcoming fiscal year’s 2013-14 budget. That came at a budget work session on Monday, March 18.


They also agreed to provide county employees with 1 percent raises. That increase would go to staff not already poised to receive mandatory 3 percent raises under the state’s adopted budget.

As at the previous budget session, they ended up retaining a proposal to provide a budget increase to the School Board that would give the division $1 million more than in the current budget year.
Nothing is in concrete, yet.

Staffing for six full-time fire and rescue positions is also included. Those would be hired to provide around-the-clock staffing of the Fairview Beach Firehouse, which is currently not staffed by paid personnel. In addition, funding was agreed to upgrade either one or two part-time animal control positions to full-time.
To pay for the budget additions, supervisors also reached tentative agreement to take about $322,000 from the county’s stabilization fund, established a couple years ago as a potential go-to fund for one-time expenses in a budget emergency.

That fund currently contains only about $650,000, so it can be potentially applied to for the following budget year, 2014-15, if necessary, to help out with cumulative increases prior to hiking any taxes.

Budget numbers tossed out must be verified by the finance department operated by Donita Harper, deputy county administrator and director of finance.

Also, some items proposed to be added back may have slipped away unintentionally during the final brainstorming, and could need to be added back when scrutinized, such as one or two positions to staff security at the courthouse after renovations are completed.

All that is expected to be ironed out by next week’s budget meeting.

Supervisors will be presented with a draft budget proposal at a work session scheduled on Monday, March 25, at 5:30 p.m. at the King George Fire & Rescue Station on Route 3.

 

SUPERVISORS BRAINSTORM      
After viewing a bare-bones version of a balanced budget with no tax increases from County Administrator Travis Quesenberry, a lot of ideas were put on the table by various supervisors.

Cedell Brooks said he wanted staffing for Fairview Beach and a raise for employees, but was vague about funding those items and adamant about not raising taxes.

“We can take it out of one of our funds,” Brooks said.

John LoBuglio likewise wanted to only add costs to the budget for staffing at the Fairview Beach station and give employee raises. Chairman Dale Sisson asked him how he suggested funding it. LoBuglio said they would have to take $450,000 to $500,000 out of the county’s general fund.

Dipping into the county’s reserves has been cautioned by financial consultants. The reason is to not only maintain an above-average credit rating to save money on interest rates when borrowing. It’s also because the general fund is designed to be set aside only for dire emergencies. If federal sequestration continues to take effect, those now-unknown results could be catastrophic enough to go there.  

Both Sisson and Joe Grzeika provided detailed handouts for their proposals showing how they would fund additions. The pair had different ideas about how to get there, but both started from last week’s straw budget put out by Quesenberry, indicating proposed cuts here and there to enable funding basically the same staffing issues put forward by Brooks and LoBuglio.

Ruby Brabo likewise wanted the Fairview Beach station staffed, along with more staffing at the Dahlgren station and some employee raises. But she added, “Its apples and oranges to try to give a pay increase the same across the county.”

Brabo was referring to the state’s mandate of 3 percent raises for constitutional officers and their staff members that are funded by the state, with the locality is required to chip in about 60 percent of those costs. There is a similar situation with the Registrar and those staff members, who will likewise get a higher raise than other county employees.

Brabo suggested the needed funding could come from the stabilization fund and it was agreed to all around with some caveats from Sisson that an explanation be developed to address the use of the funds for the public and audit record.

DETAILS OF BUDGET PROPOSAL     
Quesenberry’s proposal du jour presented this week started out with the following details, in addition to the additions mentioned above.
• The proposal added up to $34,682,215 for county operations. (That will go up as noted above.)
• One part-time position in the General Properties department for custodial maintenance at the expanded library building.
• Bases School Board funding for state revenue calculated on an average daily membership (ADM) of 4,100.
• Employees to pay their share of the health insurance increase.
• Transfer of $100,000 from General Fund balance for one-time equipment purchases.
• Outside agency funding re-scrubbed and reduced again.
• Deleted $260,000 to go to Stabilization Fund, as per policy.
• Adjustments to fire and rescue costs for overtime due to calculation and rolling shift differential.
• Shifted $116,000 for Sheriff’s vehicle request to Capital Projects.
• Added revenue estimated last week by Chief Moody from proposed Ambulance Recovery Fees.
• Additional small budget scrubs as noted on handout.

SCHOOL BOARD    
The School Board’s approved budget request had asked for $2,026,070 more in local funding than the current year. But the administration under Superintendent Rob Benson had decreased the local request amount for a presentation provided to supervisors by School Board Chairman John Davis at a March 7 budget meeting.

The proposal’s adjustment took into consideration new revenue information available from the state after the budget request had been approved, decreased the amount of local revenue wanted from the county by about $426,171.

The current proposal contains funding for two new central office positions and three instructional aides, in addition to 2 percent raises for all employees.

Whatever amount the School Board ends up being allocated, it is up to that body to rethink it and decide with Benson how it will be spent.

Phyllis Cook

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