By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer
The Fluvanna FY15 budget is just as tight as anticipated.
County Administrator, Steve Nichols, presented his budget proposal at the Feb. 5 meeting Board of Supervisors meeting. His proposal shows just how hard it will be for the supervisors to do everything it has said it wants to do.
The Nichols’ Budget includes a real property tax rate of $0.85 per $100 assessed with the personal property rate staying at $4.15 per $100 assessed.
The big shocker of the Nichols’ Budget is the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The CIP is a five-year plan for capital projects. The supervisors approve a plan for all five years but only commit to paying for the first year.
The FY15 CIP is for $13.1 million, including borrowing $10 million to pay for a large portion of it.
Big ticket items Nichols slated for debt are upgrading the aged Fluvanna Middle School HVAC system, construction of Fluvanna’s portion of the James River Water Authority system and developing a water system for the Zion Crossroads Development Area.
Other items to be paid in cash were all below $1 million, with the two largest being $650,000 for lighting at the Pleasant Grove athletic fields and $600,000 for safety and security upgrades for the school system.
The CIP also has over $1.4 million in maintenance projects.
The budget itself is higher than last year’s but it mostly maintains services currently offered.
“There is nothing but bone marrow left, other than personnel,” Nichols told the board about possible cuts.
Had Nichols included every request from agencies and departments, the real estate tax rate would have to be $0.93. It is currently $0.795.
The raise in the real estate tax rate isn’t the only thing helping increase the projected revenue for the budget. This year the anticipated tax collection rate was also increased, using historical trends. Because Fluvanna has collected higher than anticipated, the calculated collection rate was increased slightly. It isn’t a huge difference but saved a penny of real estate tax rate.
Extra tax revenues collected over projected are put into the ‘Fund Balance’, the county’s savings account.
The fund balance is required to have $7.2 million, per county policy. With Nichols’ budget proposal it would sit $1.5 million higher than policy.
The supervisors will also conduct another reassessment. Last year the reassessment lowered property values. One occurring in calendar year 2014, taking effect Jan. 1, 2015, will more than likely increase property values. The increase in value will increase the June 2015 tax collection.
While that is likely to occur, it is not projected in the budget process.
The debt service will continue to be an ongoing issue for the county and it won’t get better for the next several budget calendars. The budget has $7.536 million of debt service or $0.28 of real estate taxes. The payoff of current debt load is 2036 with payments lessening in the 2020s decade.
The supervisors have already heard from agencies during the Feb. 5 work session. On Feb. 12 they supervisors will hear from the non-profit and regional agencies.
Following the Feb. 19 regular meeting, supervisors will work on the CIP and capital budget.
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