By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer
The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors held its FY15 budget public hearing in front of 23 people. Of that, only 14 people were members of the public. In total, the public hearing only had four people speak and all four favored the full advertised increase in taxes.
The advertised budget includes an increase in real estate taxes from $0.795 per $100 assessed to $0.88. The personal property rate will remain at $4.15 per $100 assessed. The budget expenditures increases 22 percent because it includes a Capital Improvement Plan that is $15 million for FY15. A majority of that, $10 million, will come from financing.
“I don’t like paying more tax, however I think it is essential to move Fluvanna forward,” said resident Kerry Murphy-Hammond.
That followed up a short comment from Perrie Johnson, “I’m willing to pay more to move Fluvanna forward.”
Supervisor discussion after the public hearing seemed like a recap session of the budget process, even if the budget and tax rate won’t be adopted for another week.
“Could we have saved a few cents this year? Possibly, but it would come back next year,” said Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District).
O’Brien noted the process did not have deep discussion on items to cut saying “there wasn’t a lot of fat” to begin with.
And the process didn’t have much public discussion.
The longest work session on expenditures did not have a member of the public present. It was completely attended by staff, constitutional officers and members of the media. There are people who are county residents in that group.
That session painfully went through things to add to the budget but did not spend much time to cut anything.
Bob Ullenbruch (Palmyra District) said there is a silent majority who do not want a tax increase. He noted one out of every six homes in the county is living below the poverty line.
“What we do to save one penny now will cost us $5 down the road,” responded O’Brien. He mentioned things like not paying employees competitively leads to a more expensive cost of replacement and knowledge. The budget this year does include raising the county pay rates.
Still, the increase doesn’t sit well with the two Republican elected supervisors, Ullenbruch and Don Weaver (Cunningham District).
“We now are one of the highest counties in this area (for tax rate). That’s not good for economic development,” said Weaver.
“I think next year is the real teller,” said Ullenbruch who mentioned a possible starting increase of another six cents.
Chairwoman Mozell Booker led the praise of the work county staff did to start the budget process.
Steve Nichols, county administrator, named personnel specifically that have been instrumental in the budget process. One of them, Barbara Horlacher, is leaving the county on April 18. In an email on April 10, the county announced Eric Dahl, county budget analyst, will replace her.
The supervisors will vote to adopt the budget on April 16 at the Fluvanna Courthouse. The regularly scheduled meeting is set for 7 p.m. start.
The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.