By. Brian Rothamel, Field Officer
His budget proposal includes two new positions, ‘lean’ departmental budgets and no pay raises nor cost of living adjustments for employees. The budget does not include any additional requests for schools because those haven’t been hashed out at the School Board yet. Also, health care rates for next year are not in yet.
Bottom line, to keep the tax rate level will be a balancing act that maybe acrobatic Nik Wallenda would have difficulty completing.
Nichols has historically delivered a budget that allows the supervisors to build on. His predecessors have often set budgets the supervisors have to later tear down to get them to pass. Nichols approach breeds supervisors working together to add, which is obvious in two 5-0 votes in his three years.
Previous supervisors, even off the record, never complained about his budget proposals. He is often lauded publicly and privately for setting a foundation for supervisors to build on.
Nichols’ FY17 budget proposes adding an in-house county attorney with a paralegal. Currently the supervisors contract those services.
Nichols did not include adding an assistant county administrator, a position that has been vacated since Shelly Wright left in 2010. The county government has taken on more responsibilities since 2010 but the role never makes it into the budget.
He also did not include additional personnel for public utilities while supervisors plan on building water and sewer infrastructure projects. He did include additional utilities personnel in future budget projections.
In total, departmental leaders requested nine positions that were left off the proposal.
Supervisors will also have to weigh the deferred regular maintenance that has accumulated. The infrastructure improvements, much like staff pay, has been put off for the proverbial ‘next year’ in Fluvanna often. While more recent boards have fought to get ahead in both areas, there is still catch-up to be completed.
The Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) could be bloated again in FY17, much like in FY15. Currently the plan is $9 million. Last year, FY16, it was under $2 million. Supervisors have over $9 million in the bank currently that could be used for CIP projects or pay off higher interest debt. Then supervisors could take on lower interest debt for projects like Zion Crossroads water infrastructure.
Supervisors will hold regular work sessions regarding the budget over the next two months. February 10th the supervisors will hear presentations from various non-profit organizations seeking County financial support at 7 p.m.
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Photo Credits: Fluvanna County