By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer
Once again, it will come down to the schools, and how much the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors wants to spend on education in the FY 2012 budget that starts on July 1st. Over the past few days, there have been developments that have brought the issues into starker relief.
Fluvanna County Administrator Jay Scudder has circulated a revised staff budget that holds the real estate tax rate at $.54 per $100 of assessed value, exclusive of debt service costs and any education funding increases. The previous budget recommendation included a $.04 tax increase.
Mr. Scudder made several new recommendations, including:
· Increase the personal property tax by $.20 to $4.00 per $100 value;
· Fund the county real estate reassessment costs through a $250,000 drawdown in the county’s “savings account” – the undesignated fund balance;
· Collecting the equivalent of two cents in overdue real estate taxes; and,
· Closing the county landfill and deferring hiring an economic development coordinator.
Separately, the School Board is expected to ask for at least an increase of $1 million for operating expenditures; but the number may be as high as $1.9 million. A majority of the School Board would like to restore pay cuts ($900 thousand) instituted during the current fiscal year. At weeks end there was a report that the School Board may back down. The school budget proposal will be presented on March 16th to the supervisors.
School Board wants aside, supervisors will face a difficult decision on funding school debt. Funding debt alone will add several cents to the tax rate, and the Board also is considering adding another two cents to the tax rate to fund the new high school’s operations.
The supervisors currently are divided over addition funding for the School Board requests. Reportedly, several members actually would like to cut current funding levels, especially in light of the large tax hike needed to fund current school debt.
Also, drawing down the fund balance to pay for a reassessment and anticipating two cents worth of additional revenue ($750,000) from back tax collection will strike some as a bit of a contrived fix, brought in at the last minute to minimize a needed tax increase.
Supervisors expect to set the advertized tax rate at their next meeting on March 16th.
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