- Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 10:11
- Published on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 10:11
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The Westmoreland Board of Supervisors met in special session Thursday night to finalize the county’s 2014-2015 budget and in doing so joined most of the other Northern Neck localities in enacting a small tax increase to help offset shrinking state and federal revenues.
The approved finalized West-moreland County budget was $51,806,516. Of that amount, the largest share, $19,179,988, goes to fund the Westmoreland County schools. The increased tax rate follows a pattern of other nearby localities. All of the counties of the Northern Neck, except Richmond County, have been forced to enact tax increases this year.
Westmoreland County Administrator Norm Risavi said, “The Board of Supervisors voted to increase the real estate tax rate by four cents due to some of the following reasons:
“A significant increase in the actual costs for Comprehensive Services Program for at risk children, which is projected to cost $1.6 million in the upcoming fiscal year; continued decreasing school age population but increasing retirement contributions for teachers; slow economic recovery impact on local revenues: and continued unfunded state and federal mandates.”
Risavi said state aid to localities for Westmoreland County has dropped $589,059 since 2009 and declining revenues have reduced the unencumbered fund balance and the contingency reserves for the county. The unencumbered fund has dropped to 13 percent, despite the fact that Westmoreland has tried to maintain a 15 percent balance for cash flow purposes.
In an attempt to minimize the tax increase and to balance the county budget, Risavi said, the supervisors voted to cut $1,076,491 from the budget for 2014-2015 including the elimination of three fulltime positions.
In addition to the other increasing costs, Risavi pointed out that Westmoreland County is now required to pick up the line of duty costs in case of injury or death to members of the county’s fire, rescue and sheriff’s departments, an expense that was paid previously by the Commonwealth of Virginia.