By Brent Wilson, Field Officer
The COVID-19 virus is impacting globally and in multiplicity of ways. Greene County, like all counties, is trying to determine the fiscal impact of the virus, and subsequent state funding cuts, on their proposed FY21 Budget. The April 28th meeting of Greene County’s Board of Supervisors agenda included public hearings on the budget for next fiscal year along with the Personal Property Tax Rate for the same period.
County Administrator Mark Taylor outlined that Greene County has gone from a robust economy through the end of last calendar year to record unemployment and a significant downturn in the local economy. This leaves many uncertainties for the coming fiscal year.
However, one $450,000+ certainty is the University of Virginia (UVA) termination of their Emergency Medical Services (EMS) contract with Greene County. Per the agreement, the contract termination will become effective in October, 2020.
The $1.1 million UVA contract is budgeted for but the best estimate to provide the same service by Greene County is estimated at $1.57 million. This is approximately the equivalent of $.02/$100 on the Personal Property Tax Rate.
During the public hearing all speakers spoke against a tax increase for the coming year. The Supervisors advertised an increased tax rate of $.84/$100 up from $.82/$100, this is the maximum that the tax rate could be increased to but it could be less than the $.84/$100 rate.
The Supervisors were required to set the tax rate at the April 28th meeting but could postpone the actual budget until June 9th at the latest. Supervisor Steve Bowman (Monroe) felt that prior to the impact of the COVID-19 virus he was comfortable with an increase of $.02/$100 to help build up reserves for future projects. However, the negative impact on the economy has caused him to not support a tax increase at this time but it may have to be reviewed mid-year to see if an increase would be necessary.
Supervisors Davis Lamb (Ruckersville) and Marie Durrer (Midway) agreed with Bowman. Supervisor Dale Herring (At-Large) asked if the tax rate could be increased mid-year and Taylor stated that while this has not been done in the past he believes it can be accomplished at some cost.
Chairman Bill Martin (Standardsville) expressed concern over having to provide EMS in less than six months. Melissa Meador, Greene County’s Emergency Service Manager, indicated that the county would not be starting from zero in developing a stand alone EMS.
Greene County does hold the license required and there is an agreement in place with the Rescue Squads in the county. There is a contingency plan in place that she feels that it could be executed in 180 days. The problem is the additional funding required to pay for it.
The consensus among the supervisors was that the rate should not go up and voted to keep the rate at $.82/$100.
As for the budget adoption, the supervisors agreed to delay it to June 9th – the latest it could be delayed – to have more time to see what changes could be made to the budget. So as of now, Greene County has approved a tax rate that will not fund the proposed budget. Counties in Virginia must have a balanced budget, so more to follow.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization. The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you. To support this important work please donate online
Photo Credit: Greene County Rescue (Via Facebook)