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Taxes to stay level

County supervisors finalizing budget proposal this week


The King George Board of Supervisors last week decided on elements for its proposed budget, winding up its deliberations at the end of three budget work session meetings, the final one on Thursday, March 31.

Final proposed budget figures will be distributed at this week’s meeting on Tuesday (following our press time) to reflect

changes made late last week, primarily proposed by Chairman Joe Grzeika and Supervisor Dale Sisson.

Supervisors had been pleased with the well-scrubbed total budget proposal of $61,702,929 from County Administrator Travis Quesenberry and Deputy County Administrator/Director of Finance Donita Harper.

That proposed budget amount is $2.6 million less than the current-year’s budget due to lower anticipated revenues.
The total budget figure had included $33,866,144, as requested for the School Board budget.

Supervisors made some changes to work within the total proposed figure, making cuts in some places and additions in others, including downward adjustments for the School Board.
 

TAXES

Supervisors are not planning on raising any tax rates. That means tax rates will remain level for the upcoming fiscal year.
The real estate and mobile home tax rate is 50-cents per $100 valuation, the personal property tax rate is $3.20 per $100 valuation, and the machinery & tools rate is taxed at $2.50 per $100 valuation.
 

HEALTH INSURANCE DECREASE

Supervisors were informed last week of a 10 percent drop in costs for the School Board’s portion of employee health insurance.

Superintendent Candace Brown had likewise told the School Board on Monday, March 28, that instead of the 12 percent increase she had put into the budget, division insurance costs instead will drop by 10 percent on average for both the School Board and for its employees.

Brown never explained where she got her original estimate for a $500,000 increase.
Brown said the decrease would save the School Board $205,436, instead of costing it an additional $507,315. That comes to $712,751 less needed in the School Board budget.

That was good news to supervisors, and they directed it be cut.

They likewise cut in half funding for the cost of 2 percent raises for the School Board, providing the equivalent to 2 percent at mid-year, as proposed for county employees.
 

RAISES: COUNTY

Supervisors are proposing to provide 2 percent average raises for employees at mid-year in January 2012 under the county’s pay-for-performance policy.

Two percent increases, or their equivalent, would cost about $165,000 for all county departments.

County employees last received raises in January 2008. That comes to four years between pay increases for county employees.
 

RAISES: SCHOOL BOARD

The School Board would also get funding equivalent to provide 2 percent raises starting at mid-year, like the county’s proposal for its employees. Those raises are estimated to cost about $262,000 for all current employees, including administrators.

The School Board had requested full-year 2 percent raises in its budget proposal, estimated at $522,994.

The last time the School Board granted raises was 4 percent beginning in July 2008 for the 2008-09 fiscal year. If the budget proposal goes through, the School Board can decide on 1 percent full-year raises instead of 2 percent at mid-year in January.

Salaries have remained level since June 2009, with no raises granted in 2009-10 or for the current budget year, 2010-11.
 

BONUSES

Supervisors are also planning on providing one-time bonuses for its employees at the end of the current fiscal year. The bonuses would be $500 as a lump sum for full-time employees and a prorated amount for part-time employees.

The money would come from a projected surplus from the current-year budget. That surplus was last month estimated to come to about $555,000 on June 30.

During last month’s financial reporting by Harper, she likewise projected the School Board would under-spend its budget and end up with a surplus of nearly $700,000, adding that Brown had concurred with that surplus estimate.

That puts the School Board in a similar position as supervisors, with the ability to provide one-time bonuses, if they decide to do so.
 

OTHER ADJUSTMENTS

Supervisors made a few other cuts and some increases in their effort to balance a proposed budget as efficiently and effectively as possible across all the departments and agencies requiring funding.
 
• $310,000 added to budget to increase EMS budget to reflect three additional staff, building assessment for Fairview Beach Company 3 and line-of-duty required costs and incentives for volunteer program.

• $132,093 cut for FREDericksburg Regional Transit, which would eliminate funding for both of the county’s bus routes. The proposed cut was reluctantly agreed to, with Sisson noting the county has had a great working relationship with the agency. But the ridership remains miniscule, with both buses often riding long portions of their routes empty. For each 50-cent ride by patrons, the county has been chipping in about $6.50 per ride to subsidize the cost. Sisson said, “I don’t think that it is the efficient way to provide mass transit in a rural area.”

• $4,000 cut for Bluemont program.

• $36,000 cut in School Board travel; Sisson found what looks like a typo in the School Board line item budget where travel went from $4,000 per year to $40,000 for next year.

Supervisors also agreed they wanted to be provided a proposed categorical budget in line with the current funding proposal for the School Board budget, so it could be available for the public hearing. 
 

BUDGET HEARING

Public hearings were authorized for April 19 on the proposed tax rates to be unchanged and the proposed budget. A final budget is expected to be approved by the Board of Supervisors no later than April 29.

Phyllis Cook

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