Thu09182014

Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

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Supervisors updated on proposed state budget amendments

The King George Board of Supervisors, like those in most localities across the state, faces difficult decisions that are expected to include large budget cuts throughout county and school budgets for the next two fiscal years.
No decisions have yet been made.
But this could be the first budget where county positions may be eliminated.
At the beginning of last year’s tough budget process, supervisors provided guidance that included no salary increases but also included no layoffs.
This coming year could be different.  

Major slashes in state revenue to localities are being considered by the current proposal predicated on former Gov. Tim Kaine’s budget.  
Those numbers will change as the state’s budget committees review and rework the numbers.  
Many are thinking that Kaine’s budget numbers could be rosier than the final numbers after new Gov. Bob McDonnell and the General Assembly get through with them.
Several of Kaine’s spending cuts and cost-saving measures are being rejected by McDonnell, along with Kaine’s idea for an income tax surcharge that was included as revenue in his budget proposal, that some are calling bogus.
While McDonnell is coming up with his own cuts, he also has some costly new additions, including strategies for creating jobs and strengthening the state economy in future years.
It’s an uncertain time in an uncertain economy.
But the fact is that all localities and school boards across the state are in the same position.
They must begin making tough choices and developing budget proposals that conform to Kaine’s numbers, while bracing themselves for an additional potential round of cuts after the state’s budget is finalized.  
Supervisors received a financial update last week from Deputy County Administrator Donita Harper.  
Harper provided numerous pages of information and provided detailed explanation of actual and projected financial data at the Jan. 19 meeting to indicate how the state’s current proposals would affect county revenue for the remainder of the current fiscal year and for the upcoming next two years.

STATE REVENUE CUTS COMING
Kaine’s budget proposes reductions for King George that add up to about $2 million less revenue.
One big provision would eliminate funding all positions under the two constitutional officers of the Commissioner of Revenue and Treasurer, except for the two elected officers themselves, which would remain state-funded.
Localities are being told they may eliminate some or all of those positions by consolidating their functions under local finance departments.
Cuts are also proposed that would result in a huge slash in state funding for sheriff’s deputies, along with cuts to all other constitutional offices funded by the state Board of Compensation.  
King George supervisors had previously provided budget guidance to staff that included no layoffs.
But they didn’t see this coming.
Supervisors will be delving into 2010-11 budget matters at this week’s budget work session on Jan. 26, following The Journal’s weekly Tuesday press time.

STATE’S CABOOSE BUDGET PROPOSAL FOR SCHOOLS
Supervisors were told that the School Board’s current state revenue will go down to match a lower number of students than budgeted for in 2009-10.  
State revenue and the county’s required local effort (RLE) are both based on the number of students served in the division over the course of the school year.
Fewer students means fewer teachers and supplies are required.
The state is planning to cut $1.2 million for the remainder of the current fiscal/school year due to adjustments in the average daily membership (ADM) from a projected 4,131 to an adjusted ADM figure of 4,039.  
Harper told the board last week, that like the state, the county also has the option of cutting funding in the current-year School Board budget to address a projection of 92 fewer students.  
That cut currently corresponds to $488,603 less from the county to correspond to the state’s planned $1.2 million cut to go the King George School Board.
It’s not yet been decided if the King George locality will cut local funding to also match the fewer students.  
The Board of Supervisors has not made such reductions in past years when enrollment has dropped.  
But it was announced in November that early in the new calendar year they would be revising the county’s budget downward to reflect state revenue cuts in all areas.
That consideration might be spurred by the School Board’s turning back a surplus of $1,192,001 at the end of the last fiscal year, after complaining of chronic underfunding from the county.
In fact, some School Board members have repeatedly stated that the county only provides the minimum amount of funding required by the state.  
To make that statement true for the current fiscal year, the county could actually cut funding to the School Board by $715,528.  
A funding cut of that amount would include the $488,603 less to address fewer students as noted above.
The state’s current proposal for school funding for the next two years also carries forward lower enrollment projections from the current year.  
Key changes to school funding could include revised sales tax and lottery revenue, along with adjustments in the state’s funding formula to provide less funding to pay for central office personnel and other administrators.

STATE’S CABOOSE BUDGET PROPOSAL FOR COUNTY DEPARTMENTS
Harper noted state cuts for the remainder of the current year affecting all county departments and constitutional offices that add up to nearly $1 million.
The state’s budget proposal includes a furlough day, which is a day off without pay, being proposed for state and for county employees.
Even with a furlough day, the Board of Supervisors has to make a decision whether to cover any state funding deficit or amend the county budget, which would require that cuts be made by departments and constitutional officers.

Phyllis Cook
Staff reporter

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