- Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 12:18
- Published on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 11:29
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In response to proposed budget reductions by the State of Virginia and the looming ‘fiscal cliff’ that, if it happens, could mean $1 trillion in federal budget cuts over the next decade, Westmoreland County officials are preparing for the impact the reductions of state and federal funding will have on the county’s budget.
County Administrator Norm Risavi said he will hold a planning meeting with county department heads in January to discuss the difficult decisions on the horizon. He also plans an early budget session with the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors.
“We are facing a great deal of uncertainty,” Risavi said. “The state is reacting to decreasing federal revenues. A lot of the programs that pass through the state require federal funding.”
In November, the State of Virginia informed Westmoreland County of a wide ranging budget proposal that would reduced state funding to the county by more than $100,000 for fiscal 2013. This follows a $127,000 reduction in state funds for fiscal 2012.
The proposed reduction of state funds and the possibility of even further reductions caused by the economic impact of the federal government going over the ‘fiscal cliff’ have county officials concerned. “When the economy began to deteriorate, people said ‘do more with less,’ but now they are saying, ‘do less with less,’” Risavi said.
“Up to this point, we have identified the economic softening and made adjustments to minimize the impact on our citizens,” Risavi said. “We have never seen such a long period of economic weakness. These are no longer usual times. Those of us in county government need to look at technology and find new ways to get things accomplished.”
Decreasing state and federal payments to Westmoreland County are having a dramatic impact on the county’s revenues. Westmoreland County Schools, for example, have seen their share of state and federal funding reduced each year for the past five years. That is forcing the county to use more and more local revenue to meet the necessities of the various departments and agencies.
The five biggest sources of local revenue for Westmoreland County are taxes from real estate, personal property, retail sales, communications and utilities. “All of these sources are sensitive to economic conditions,” Risavi said. “So, the slow pace of the recovery is making things very difficult.”