By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer
Things just keep getting worse for Fluvanna’s beleaguered taxpayers and Board of Supervisors. At its March 2nd meeting, the Board revealed that it did not realize that funds were not set aside for debt repayment for the fiscal year 2011 budget. As a result, taxes will have to be increased by a greater amount that originally thought, just to pay for debt service.
Some background. When the supervisors issued bonds for the new high school, they agreed to a novel repayment plan that would defer principal payments for several years. This would, according to the proponents at the time, allow the county to phase in moderate annual tax increases and avoid taxpayer sticker shock.
But there would be a price to pay. Several million dollars would be added to the total bond cost. This plan ultimately was not fully funded so the county now faces millions in additional debt costs, and the prospect of a $.15 tax hike in real estate taxes in FY2012 just for debt payments; currently the tax rate is $.54 per $100 of assessed value.
There is a certain “deer-in-the-headlight” look about the Board right now. It has dawned on the supervisors that there is virtually no money left for anything. The current staff budget proposal allows for virtually no increases at all [save a few thousand dollars for the library]. The only other planned budget increases are for a reassessment in 2011/12, and a larger contribution for juvenile justice. The “savings account” is at an historic low.
Notwithstanding the dire financial straits, the Board did approve spending an additional $500,000 for two projects: design work for a new Fork Union firehouse, and remodeling of the first floor of the old Carysbrook library for addition office space for the Social Services department.
Budget discussions will continue through March.
William Des Rochers is the Fluvanna County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization. If you find this report helpful, please consider supporting the Free Enterprise Forum. To learn more visit www.freeenterpriseforum.org