Greene County BOS Discuss Budget Concerns

By. Kara Reese Pennella, Greene County Field Officer

 Action Summary:

  • Motion to reallocate funds to cover the Parks and Recreation Department overage – Approved
  • Motion to adopt the Capital Improvements Plan – Approved
  • Resolution to accept and appropriate $140,000 grant from the Virginia Wireless E911 Services Board – Approved

             Budget concerns were on everyone’s minds at the Greene County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, July 14, 2009. First, the Board heard from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) in their quarterly meeting where budget cuts and delays have become the norm. Next, the Board considered and approved the Capital Improvements Plan recommended by the Planning Commission. This was followed by a request for the reallocation of funds by the Parks and Recreation Department. Finally, the Board discussed the potential that the county would face additional cuts in state funding.

             VDOT provided the Board of Supervisors with their quarterly report. VDOT expects to start work on the one lane bridge on 642 at the end of July. Mutton Hollow Road improvements have been delayed in order to conduct a hydraulic analysis; however, VDOT expects the money for the improvements to continue to be available.  VDOT noted that stimulus package projects had taken priority and were slowing down some of the other planned projects.

         Additionally, VDOT has limited mowing to one pass due to budget cuts. VDOT’s representative also noted that the state is starting to have difficulty meeting the match for federal funding and money has been transferred from other projects in order to meet matching requirements.

            Board members understand that the current decline in state revenue has limited VDOT’s options when maintaining and improving roads. Nevertheless, board members brought up a number of safety concerns. Several board members mentioned various problems with the Route 29/33 intersection. They quickly learned that plans to improve the intersection have been delayed, although VDOT has installed a traffic camera at the light. S. Catalano also noted that there has been an increase in the number of motorcycle accidents on the mountainous portion of Route 33 and requested that better safety signs be installed.

             Next the Board of Supervisors turned their attention to the Capital Improvements Plan (CIP). Staff highlighted a few of the changes to the plan and noted that the total cost of the plan was about $1 million less than the prior fiscal year’s plan. Staff also noted that the next CIP would be completed earlier next year so that it can be considered when the Board is working on the budget. The Board expressed desire that future CIPs be more accurate so they can be used a planning tool. C. Schmitt was concerned about how cost estimates were obtained and if cost escalators were used for some of the long term projects. J. Allen noted that many agencies do not take this process seriously enough. The Board approved the current plan by a unanimous vote.

             The Board then tackled another tough financial issue. The Parks and Recreation Department is over budget for FY 2009-2010. Portions of this overage may have been due to the unexpected success of some of the department’s programs. Other contributing factors included increased costs in program items such at equipment, uniforms and portable restroom rentals.  J. Bates requested that the Board allow the department to transfer approximately $5000 from the line item for salary and wages in order to make up for the shortfall. Even with the reappropriation of funds department will still be short approximately $1600 which will need to be taken from the general fund.

             Board Members were all displeased with the overage. However, they were split on how to handle the fact that the department was over budget. C. Schmitt advocated leniency after observing that the department had some of the money available and unused in the budget under the salary and wages line item. Further, he pointed out that the overage could be set off by the profits that the Park’s and Recreation Department had made on three bus trips to New York. Those three trips earned approximately a $1000 profit each which was placed into the general fund. S. Catalano and B. Peyton took a firmer approach noting that the profit did not change the fact that the department was over budget. M. Skeens observed that the money is due and that the Board did not have much choice on the matter.

             C. Schmitt moved that the Department of Parks and Recreation be permitted to transfer the balance of their salaries line item and to appropriate the $1600 from the general fund to cover the remaining balance. He also noted that the Board expected the department to do everything necessary to make sure that this does not happen again.

           M. Skeens, C. Schmitt and J. Allen voted to approve the motion. B. Peyton and S. Catalano voted against the motion.

             Finally, in other matters from the Board, B. Peyton announced that the Governor has asked that localities preplan for budget cuts of 5%, 10% and 15%. All departments will be asked to create a plan in the upcoming weeks. B. Peyton noted that “cuts should be shared equally across all departments.”  S. Catalano indicated that he expected more funding cuts when the General Assembly returns to session.

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