By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer
Fluvanna County’s Board of Supervisors met on October 17th and rejected most of a School Board request for more funding for the current fiscal year. School officials requested an additional $374,000, of which $66,000 was for unspent FY 2012 funds. Supervisors approved returning that money.
The Board however rejected a school request for an additional $308,000 to cover unanticipated new expenses, most notably for heating fuel. It seems that the high school engineer underestimated heating oil consumption by 200 percent and the heating bill will be $208,000, instead of the original $68,000. The School Board also wanted to restore funding to some categories where it removed previously allocated funds.
There was little sympathy for the school position. A motion by supervisor Mozell Booker to provide the funding died for lack of a second, Supervisor Robert Ullenbruch stated: “we’re four months into the budget … it’s not acceptable… The end has to be now to coming up to the podium and asking for more money”.
Currently school officials are reviewing their options, including moving towards a four-day school week.
Separately, Steve Jacobs of Robinson, Farmer and Cox presented the results of a study that shows that Fluvanna spends substantially more on schools than is required by the Commonwealth to meet the standards of quality. Mr. Jacobs noted however, that every school division in the state spends more than the minimum requirement, and that some items, such as bus transportation, are not required by the Commonwealth.
Separately, the County Treasurer, Linda Lenherr, reported that county tax revenue is not meeting budget expectations. Real estate tax collections are running at a 90 percent payment rate, significantly below the anticipated 96 percent rate. This represents an estimated $1.1 million decline in projected revenue on an annual basis. Ms. Lenherr also said that personal property tax revenue collections are below the 90 percent collection rate projected in the FY2013 budget.
Prior to the meeting, Commissioner of the Revenue Mel Sheridan stated that the real estate reassessment indicates an average 28 percent decline in county values. He indicated that land values declined significantly more than home values, and that there did not appear to be significant variations among different sections of the county. Mr. Sheridan cautioned however that the data are subject to change as the review and appeal process is just underway.
Finally, at the request of supervisor Joe Chesser (Rivanna), supervisors directed the staff to “present land use and zoning options at an afternoon meeting in the near future”. This suggests that the long dormant “rural preservation” issue might be addressed before the next supervisor elections in 2013.
William Des Rochers is the Fluvanna County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.
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