More State Money Makes Passing Greene’s Budget Easier
By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer
As has become the tradition for budget public hearings, the April 22nd Greene County Board of Supervisors meeting was relocated to the Performing Arts Center at William Monroe High School , but could have been held at the County Office Building as normal given the relatively small crowd in attendance. An increase of two million dollars from Richmond made the budget process in Greene County much easier compared to two years ago due a decrease in the Composite Index of the Local Ability to Pay.
County Administrator John Barkley started the evening reviewing the budget process. He explained that the FY 2015 Budget has conservatively estimated economic growth. What Barkley did not explain was the increase in state funds of $2 million and the use of the reserve fund of nearly $600k, for a total of $2.6 million of the $3.1 million increase in budgeted funds. The other interesting part of the presentation was the fact that Capital Outlay expenditure increased from $54,330 to $540,881 without a Capital Improvement Plan being approved.
The public comment portion of the public hearing was a thank you from parents, School Board members and PTA representatives with only one speaker raising concerns over the budget.
The meeting quickly moved to the Board of Supervisors with Bill Martin (Stanardsville) speaking first. He stated he appreciated the cooperation from all of the departments in Greene, especially the school system, reflecting a new spirit in the budget process. Funding from the county is to remain level and the increase in funding is to come from the state. Mr. Martin indicated some concerns – debt service is growing – up to $2.5 million per year and the revenue is not hitting the projected level from water and sewer hook ups .
Supervisor Eddie Deane (At-Large) was glad for the extra revenue from the state but expressed concern about being able to fund the raises given in the coming year going forward. Supervisor Davis Lamb (Ruckersville) also expressed concern about the water impoundment needed by the county and the cost that it will take to develop it.
Chairman Jim Frydl (Midway) appreciated the new approach with the school’s budget. He also stated that this is not the time to raise taxes. Most counties in the area are having to raise taxes whereas Greene has addressed issues driving up costs in prior years. Frydl also stated that Greene County teachers pay is now ranked last in the area. He indicated pay raises for the school system is critical to keeping quality teachers. Frydl also stated that while Debt Service is concerning, it is a tool for counties to help finance large expenditures. Finally, Frydl expressed appreciation to the departments in the county consistently under spending their budget by 2 to 4% annually and Greene County departments don’t arbitrarily spend their whole budget in order to justify a large budget the following year.
The BOS unanimously approved the budget and maintained the tax rate at $.72/$100.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.
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