By Pauline Hovey
With little discussion and fewer than a dozen residents offering public comments at the budget hearing, Greene County supervisors are poised to move forward with the FY 2011/2012 budget.
The main item of concern for most in attendance, including School Board members, all of whom but one were present at Tuesday night’s public hearing, was whether supervisors could be convinced to allocate additional county money to the $11,730,653 they had proposed.
Only about a half dozen residents, some of whom were teachers, expressed concerns regarding the school budget, and another four people spoke in favor of further supporting the Jefferson Area Board on Aging (JABA), Piedmont Regional Dental Clinic, and the local Virginia Cooperative Extension office. But supervisors seemed satisfied with the financial allocations they’d made leading up to the public hearing.
Supervisor Buggs Peyton (Stanardsville) said he considers the fact that the county is allocating an additional $512,029 to the schools next year to be significant “considering the sluggish economy.” This amount includes carryover funds that had not been spent from last year’s budget, which the supervisors agreed to put back into the school budget for next year.
Supervisor Carl Schmidt (at-large) stressed that “thanks to strict budgets” that the board has adopted in the past several years, the county is “in good financial shape now, but we have put off capital improvements to make that happen, including rescue squad ambulances, fire trucks, and school buses. Now we have no choice but to deal with these things,” he said. Such pending capital improvement projects will be the supervisors’ next focus.
Schmidt also noted that supervisors previously removed a line item out of the budget to pay for school buses separately, and supervisors consider this estimated $88,000 for buses to be money they are giving the schools in addition to the total proposed school budget.
Supervisor Jim Frydl (Ruckersville) said that, based on what was appropriated last year, the board is offering a 3-percent increase in the overall amount allocated to the schools, although some, including School Board members and Superintendent David Jeck, would argue that point, noting that the administration has had to significantly cut their school budget each year in order to make due with what the county allocates.
As for the real estate tax rate, based on the county’s current financial condition, supervisors unanimously approved keeping the tax rate at .69 per $100 of assessed value. This actually represents a decrease in taxes for Greene County residents as their property values have decreased with the recent property reassessment.
The board also unanimously approved the percentage of tax relief for 2011/2012 as authorized by the Personal Property Tax Relief Act.
The public hearing was held in the county administration building rather than the high school’s Performing Arts Center because the latter is under renovation as a result of the board’s approval of a $5.3 million school facilities project loan made possible by retiring debt. Supervisors authorized the schools to apply for the loan from the Virginia Public School Association at a previous meeting.
Pauline Hovey is the Greene 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
Photo Credit: Greene County