By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer
Fluvanna’s Board of Supervisors met in work session on March 10th to set the framework for the FY 2011 budget. By the end of the meeting, the Board agreed to hold a public hearing on increasing real estate taxes by ten percent (to $.55 per $100).
The supervisors also opted to take $600,000 from the county’s “savings account” (the undesignated fund balance), restored $2 million to the school budget contribution. They retained another $ 600,000 in budget cuts. Collectively, the measures would erase what would have been a $3.9 million deficit.
Questions surfaced after the meeting as to what exactly transpired. There was no clear articulation from the Board, for example, that the tax increase was to fund the school bond debt – there is a dedicated line for that purpose in Fluvanna’s budget. Previously, five cents of the real estate tax had been set-aside for debt retirement: the aggregate debt requirement for FY2011 is 17 cents. By FY 2013, that figure will rise to 21 cents.
The Constitutional officers were seen asking what happened to their accounts. For the most part, staff recommended no cuts for those budgets, but supervisors did not confirm that. Indeed, very little was confirmed. Supervisors wanted to restore proposed cuts to the social services department, but it still stands to lose a one employee.
At one point, one supervisor supported his ideological polar opposite to spend down the fund balance, only to realize after the meeting that his stated position would have double-taxed constituents.
As it stands now, the two liberal supervisors: Ms. Mozell Booker (Fork Union) and Mr. John Gooch (Palmyra) emerged the clear winners. The school system was only reduced by $1 million – despite the fact that three supervisors were prepared to cut $1.5 million. There will be only minimal layoffs in non-school employment. The School Board makes its own budget decisions.
Just where all this ends up is anyone’s guess. The broadest of outlines are there but the practical implications for taxpayers and county functions remain elusive.