Tag Archives: budget

Greene Supervisors Set 2018 Tax Rates

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

The good news for Greene County residents is on April 25th, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved keeping their personal property tax rate steady for 2018 at $.775/$100.

The bad news is the tax bill is going up.  According to County documents, due to increased assessments and other revenue, the county’s total budget is increasing by 5.22% ($61.267,707).  The assessment increase alone creates “an effective tax increase” of $.055 per $100.

Supervisors Chair Michelle Flynn (Ruckersville) asked County Administrator John Barkley to review the process up to this point and she explained that approval of the budget will be on the agenda for the May 23rd meeting. Barkley started by thanking all of the counties departments, staff, managers and especially Finance Director Tracy Morris , Economic and Tourism Director Alan Yost and Planning Director/Zoning Administrator Bart Svoboda  for their work on the budget.

Barkley outlined the process from the first meeting on March 7th, a workshop with the School Board, another workshop and the advertisement on the March 26th of the proposed rates. Funding for core services are being provided for, a solid foundation for the county’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to go forward has been established and the county is investing in cross-training of staff.

Barkley did address how the county will partially be funding the increased budget – property assessments have increased approximately 5% which will generate over $1.4 million of additional tax revenue to the county. In addition, drawing down of the Reserve Fund (currently at over $14 million) by $4,158,981 will balance the proposed budget.

This being a public hearing four residents addressed the supervisors.

School Board Chairperson Leah Paladino (Midway) thanked the board for working with the School Board through the joint work sessions during a period that has several significant increased expenditures before addressing additional staffing needs.

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School Board Chair Leah Paladino

Virginia Retirement System (VRS) Increase $326,000

Health Insurance $548,000

2% Raise $481,570

Greene County Schools Superintendent Dr. Andrea Whitmarsh spoke in support of a request made during the meeting by the Jefferson Madison Regional Library to add 4 hours each week. Whitmarsh stated that many areas of the county are without internet service and the expanded hours will help students have internet access to help with their school work.

Bob and Joann Burkholder also spoke, both in support of the water impoundment project stating that work should continue.

All five supervisors expressed support of maintaining the tax rate and highlighted various areas that the county will benefit from the budget to be approved next month. Supervisor Dale Herring (At-Large) explained that 17 departments budgeted reductions while 13 departments requested no increase in their budget and that the increase in the budget is being driven by costs of the regional jail, health insurance and VRS costs being pushed to the county. The Board unanimously approved keeping the tax rate the same and the detailed budget will be reviewed at the May 23rd meeting.

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 at www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Fluvanna Budget Increases Without Public Comment

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

With the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors considering a budget of $75 million, no one spoke during the public hearings on April 5 for the budget or tax rates.

The supervisors advertised a budget with a real estate tax rate of $0.907 per $100 assessed. The equalized rate for last year was $0.882 per $100.

The supervisors advertised no change to the personal property rate of $4.35 per $100. The business related personal property is proposed to lower from $4.35 to $2.90 and a machinery and tools from $2 to $1.90.

The budget is much of the same from the previous year. The schools were bumped up $320,000. The county is starting to pay the lease for the emergency radio project this year.

Before opening the public hearing the supervisors were updated by staff regarding changes since their last meeting. The slight changes could let the supervisors lower the real estate tax rate or fund items that were previously not funded.

Previously the board tried to find other cuts including an attempt to go line item by line item led by Patricia Eager (Palmyra District). After going through two line items, it proved to be more time consuming than ability to find cuts.

“About three years ago when we were on hard times, we went through the budgets,” chairman Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) said during that work session.

The Fluvanna budget is is hard to maneuver much. The advertised budget includes 13.8 percent of the expenditures going towards debt service. The rest of the budget is heavily affected by salaries.

Don Weaver (Cunningham District) estimated at the last work session that 80 percent of the budget is staffing.

“It is very difficult to cut 20 percent,” said Weaver at the time.

The public hearing on April 5 was only attended by three members of the public, three media members and various county staff and constitutional officers.

The Board of Supervisors will meet to debate and possibly adopt the budget on April 12 at 7 p.m. in the Circuit Courtroom. The board can postpone a vote until April 19 without effecting the operations of the Treasurer’s office to get tax bills mailed.


https://freeenterpriseforum.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/bryan-rothamel.jpg?w=151&h=151The 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.

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum

Photo Credit: Fluvanna County

Greene Supervisors and School Board Kick Off Budget Season

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Prior to the second January Board of Supervisors meeting, the Greene County Board of Supervisors and the School Board held a workshop to begin the budget process. Leah Paladino, School Board Chair, led the discussion and reviewed the schools needs and priorities.

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Leah Paladino

Specifically the next school budget is looking several major issues – 1) a Virginia Retirement System (VRS) increase, 2) health insurance increase and 3) a one-time bonus – depending on Richmond’s decision. The impact of the increased local cost of the VRS is being estimated at $326,000 or a 10% increase.

Superintendent Andrea Whitmarsh’s understanding is that this increase statewide would fully fund the VRS system per what state auditors estimate is required. Health insurance is estimated to increase by 15% or $357,000 and the impact of the potential one-time bonus  is estimated at $291,000.

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At the same time, this reporter has been in communication with Delegate Rob Bell asking him about fully funding the VRS fund. His reply on January 18th was “I continue to supports efforts to achieve full funding with legislation……one of the challenges is that the budget can supercede other bills, which makes it harder to create long-term policy”. I replied asking would he sponsor a bill to prohibit “borrowing” VRS funds for anything other than retirement and when will the VRS fund be fully funded per the states independent auditors. I am still awaiting a response to that email.

clip_image005Supervisor Jim Frydl (Midway), the School Board liaison, commented that the increased VRS cost and the bonus are examples of state mandated costs being passed to the counties while the state maintains they are balancing the state The three items total nearly $1 million before addressing any operational needs – such as new text books, additional teachers and aides, updated computer equipment, etc.

As the school board pointed out, the school staffing in 2009 was 511 and over the next five years the staffing was reduced by 41 to 470 or an 8% reduction while over the same period the number of students rose from 2,852 to 3,099 or 9%. The combination of more students with fewer staff caused the ratio of students vs. staff to increase by 18% from 2009 to 2014.

Whitmarsh’s comment on the dramatic change was that reductions in staffing have been made by 2014 and since then the staff have been in sync with the increase in student population.

County Administrator John Barkley asked Whitmarsh if salaries in Greene were competitive?

Superintendent Whitmarsh indicated that there is an ongoing issue in regards to losing teachers with several years experience to Charlottesville and Albemarle County due to both wages and benefits lagging.clip_image007

Kristie Spenser, Director of Business and Facilities, addressed the health insurance increase and attributed it to four major claims which is causing the loss ratio in Greene to be higher than normal as opposed to last year when claims were below the norm.

Supervisor Bill Martin (Stanardsville) asked Whitmarsh how the morale of the staff in the schools is. Whitmarsh felt that in general it is improving, you always have some happy and some unhappy, but raises have been given recently and Paladino felt that teachers have been empowered, encouraged to innovate and moral is increasing.

Whitmarsh thanked the Board of Supervisors for the meeting and it will help them at their budget work session the next night – Wednesday, January 25th. She asked that if the Supervisors needed any further information to just ask and they will be glad to provide any data needed to help them understand the school’s needs. Likewise Martin offered to meet with the School Board if they felt it would help the budget process.

At the regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors, Michelle Flynn was elected to the Chair for 2017 and Dale Herring was elected to the Vice Chair position.

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 at www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Fluvanna Goes Green & Saves Green

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

Energy-Conservation-dollar-sign photo credit xconomyFluvanna’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution to pay for energy upgrades via debt financing.

The annual debt payment of $560,000 is offset by the upgrade savings. Trane, the company providing the upgrades guarantees the county will save over $600,000 annually in operation and maintenance costs.

The most frequent update of facilities will be building envelopes at every county facility. The second is changing lighting at all buildings except the administration building. Other planned upgrades are programmable thermostats.

The highest dollar upgrade is at Central Elementary, a planned $3.4 million upgrade to the central plant and controls.

Also at the January 18 meeting, supervisors made a policy regarding salaries of newly elected constitutional officers. There was no current stated policy but the county was paying any newly elected officer the same as the outgoing officer.

The state mandates a salary minimum but the county often increases the salary and pays the difference. On a 3-2 vote, the supervisors made the policy to be the minimum. Chairperson Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) and vice-chairperson Mozell Booker (Fork Union District) dissented.

The salary of an incoming constitutional officer can still be increased by Board of Supervisors action.

At the next meeting the county administrator Steve Nichols will present his budget proposal as the budget season heats up. The county departmental requests for FY18 were an increase of $2.5 million over the current fiscal year. That does not include the School Board request.

Few things are guaranteed in life. The energy savings might be, but all departments getting their full request in the Nichols budget is definitely not.


https://freeenterpriseforum.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/bryan-rothamel.jpg?w=151&h=151The 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.

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum

Photo Credit: Xconomy.com

Greene BOS Postpones Reorganization

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

In most localities across the Commonwealth, the first of the New Year is when the leadership is decided. Not so in Greene County in 2017, with Supervisors Jim Frydl and Michelle Flynn absent from the meeting the reorganization has been postponed to the second meeting in January – until January 24th.

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John Barkley

With only the minimum Supervisors for a quorum in attendance, the Board delayed all items requiring action until the second meeting of the month. The balance of the meeting was basically a single agenda item – the County Administrator’s report.  County Administrator John Barkley lead off by saying that the Board would hold a Strategic Planning Retreat on January 27th and 28th at the County Office Building that would be open to the public.

The White Run Reservoir water analysis  is hoped to have recommendations this winter as data continues to be collected especially on the fee structure to the county and how to manage the project with the Rapidan Service Authority. The analysis will give a roadmap as how to finance the project.

clip_image002The annual budget process is underway and the budget forms have been issued and received back from all county departments. The data is being organized to allow a budget to be presented in an orderly manner to the Board of Supervisors. The Fiscal Year 2016 audit will be presented at the next Supervisor meeting by Robinson, Farmer, Cox and Associates (RFCA) and the preliminary report looks to be favorable.

Another item to be reviewed at the January 24th meeting is the fiscal Reserve Policy and RFCA will also discuss this issue as part of their audit.

Property reassessments have been distributed to property owners in the county and any reviews requested by the property owners have been completed and revised assessments have been issued. The Board of Zoning Appeals will be the final review for any property owner that wants to further discuss their assessment and this is to be completed in the March/April timeframe.

Definition of blighted property and how the county deals with such issues is also on the agenda for a future meeting. The Ruckersville area was mentioned specifically.  According to Barkley, there are several areas that might need to be addressed by this review. It is hoped that there can be incentives offered for current and new business owners to improve the appearance of their properties.

clip_image003The only comment from Supervisor David Cox (Monroe) was that when he had his appointment with Fred Pearson, Professional Assessor related to property assessments, he was disappointed with the lack of professionalism of Mr. Pearson and gave an example to illustrate the problem. He suggested that the county needs to do a more thorough job in searching for whom does the next assessment.

Chairman Bill Martin (Stanardsville)  said that the work toward the pavilion on the county administration property was going forward with Stanardsville Mayor Gary Lowe, Stanardsville Area Revitalization (STAR) and Barkley working on the details of the agreement. Finally, Martin announced that there will be a budget work session with the School Board prior to the next Board of Supervisor meeting.

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 at www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Fluvanna Projects $1.6 Million Budget Surplus

By Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors approved keeping the pay plan as it passed earlier in the budget season.

Because of state shortfalls the county will cover the $13,421 from the board’s contingency fund. The item was discussed on three separate times, had three motions and recorded two votes. The final approval vote was 3-2 with Don Weaver (Cunningham District) and Patricia Eager (Palmyra District) voting against it.

Also at the September 21 meeting, the supervisors received two items of good news about last year’s budget.

County staff is projecting a $1.6 million surplus as they finish closing out the books. All departments expended 90 percent to 100 percent of their allotted budget.

“I think it is a great reflection of the job you all are doing,” said Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District).

Weaver suggested next year the county could lower the tax rate because of the surplus. Departments have already requested over $100,000 of carryover items that the supervisors will have to approve.

Also, for the first time in a long time the Fork Union Sanitary District ended the year with a slight surplus, totaling almost $13,000. FUSD even accomplished the task while paying back $18,000 worth of the no interest loan the county gave the water system over the years.

“This is really a time to celebrate,” said Mozell Booker (Fork Union District).

The water rates were increased over a year ago. Last fiscal year was the first full year of the increased rates. Staff also discouraged customers of continually accumulating late fees by shutting off water service sooner. The issue with continual late fees is the bill becomes insurmountable.

The supervisors did approve a timber management plan for 94 acres behind the Fork Union Community Center and 96 acres at the old landfill.

The county will sell the timber. Both tracts were previously harvested and replanted. After being clear cut, there will be another replant of the loblolly pines. In about 15 years the county could thin the forest to help it grow. In 30 years the land will be ready for another full harvest.

During unfinished business, the supervisors waived their attorney-client privilege in regards to the lawyers used for the Davenport case. In 2015 lawyers, including county attorney Fred Payne, were sued by Davenport. The county waived the privilege for 35 specific questions.

The next Board of Supervisors is October 5 at 4 p.m.


https://freeenterpriseforum.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/bryan-rothamel.jpg?w=151&h=151The 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.

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum

Fluvanna Supervisors Deadlocked On Staff Raises

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors are still undecided about a staff pay plan for the current fiscal year.

Before the previously reported land use action [Fluvanna Land Use Fireworks] on September 7 occurred, the short handed board was tied up (2-2) figuring out how to deal with the void of state funding for a staff pay raise.  The supervisors agreed during the FY2017 budget calendar to a sliding pay increase for staff. The scale was based on getting staff members who are currently paid below comparable market value closer to market value in an effort to stop the continual turnover. The vast majority of staff are at market value and were scheduled to receive a two percent increase.

The pay increase was built with money coming from the state government. When the state had less revenue then projected, the money the county is dependent on will not be given.

To keep the plan as was originally passed, the county would need to chip in $13,740 or 0.16 percent of the total budget. The county’s budget for $78.3 million includes a $50,000 personnel contingency fund and a $150,000 supervisor contingency fund.

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Patricia Eager

“It’s not a lot of money coming out but it is cumulative,” said Patricia Eager (Palmyra District).

Eager and Don Weaver (Cunningham District) would not budge past what the county originally allocated for the pay plan.

Staff gave an alternative that decreased the raise by 0.25 percent across the board but the county would have to contribute $6,034. If the raise is decreased by 0.5 percent the county would not have to contribute anything additional.

“It is not [the staff’s] fault the state had less revenue. Why penalize them?” said Mozell Booker (Fork Union District).

Chairman Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) said, “I want our employees to feel appreciated.”ger said, “I think it will take more than $13,000 to make them feel appreciated.”

Sheridan made an effort to compromise at the $6,034 contribution but Eager and Weaver would not add any funding.

“I’m sorry, staff. I’m really sorry that we don’t care enough about you,” said Booker.

Booker made a motion to contribute the $13,740 to keep the plan as originally agreed to but it failed to gain a second.

Eager moved for no additional contribution and Weaver seconded. The motion failed on a 2-2 vote.

The pay increase is scheduled to be discussed again September 21. Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) arrived to the meeting after the item was discussed. The pay raise for County Administrator Steve Nichols was also deferred.

In other business, supervisors also agreed to lease a spot on the NCT tower slated to be built at the VFW site in the Cunningham District. The tower was originally to be 199 feet. The county needs it to be 250 feet.

NCT will build the tower at the height needed and own it for a lease of $18,000 a year. The county gets a discount of $250 per month for each of the first two cellular carriers. It passed 5-0. The supervisors waived county fees to adjust the tower SUP for the new height.

Supervisors also agreed to buy a new ambulance and re-chassis another ambulance to help the Fluvanna County Rescue Squad reliable ambulances.

The Board next meets on September 21. Besides discussing the pay increase plan again, they are also scheduled to have a public hearing on vehicle license fees.

Supervisors will start the 21st with a work session on “ordinances, policies, procedures, revenue enhancement, and expense reduction discussion.” The fun starts at 4 p.m.


https://freeenterpriseforum.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/bryan-rothamel.jpg?w=151&h=151The 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.

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum

Photo Credit: Fluvanna County

Greene Supervisors Approve Overspending FY17 Budget

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

In just the second month of the new budget cycle, the Greene County Board of Supervisors discussed two issues last night (8/23) that would allow the county to spend nearly $33,000 over the approved FY17 budget.

The first issue that County Administrator John Barkley explained was that several positions are needed to be brought up to market value. He further explained that supplemental funds are being requested to fund the $27,250 for the reclassification of positions. Surplus funds from the FY16 budget will allow the county to be able to fund this request.

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Greene County Administrator John Barkley

Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Martin (Stanardsville) asked Barkley if the funds were available or not?

Barkley explained that the savings from last fiscal year would be enough to cover this additional cost and that the Board of Supervisors had the authority to reallocate unspent dollars. Supervisor David Cox (Monroe) didn’t feel there should be increases to the budget both in dollars and personnel and departments should bring up issues during the budget process.

Martin explained that the budget was not being increased but that savings from last year were being sought to cover the increased cost. Cox indicated he didn’t remember adjusting salaries during the year from what was budgeted at any time during his tenure as supervisor.

Vice-Chairman Michelle Flynn (Ruckersville) stated that this was not a change to the budget and the underspending from last year would be used to cover the increased salary. However this change in salary should have been included in the budget process. Supervisor Jim Frydl (Midway) agreed that the additional money being requested should have been in the budget. However, the underspending credit from last year could be used to pay for the salary increase.

Martin said that three positions are being reclassified to be more efficient and to include grant writing. When this was put to a vote only Supervisor Cox voted against going forward to the second hearing of the request at the next meeting on September 13.

The next issue before the Board of Supervisors was similar in that an additional allocation of $5,500 was being requested to hire a temporary mechanic to fill in for a mechanic on short term (90 day) disability. With the start of the school year the need for a mechanic is critical in order to keep the school’s buses on the road.

Barkley explained that this is a similar need for funds as above in that the underspending from last year could be used to fund the additional spending. This action also passed 4-1 with Cox voting against it for the same issue – it is overspending the current year budget.

After the meeting County Finance Director Tracy Morris  explained that the savings from the prior fiscal year are moved to the Reserve Fund each year. The additional spending that was discussed tonight would be charged to the Reserve Fund since these amounts are in excess of the current year budget.

Both of these items will be heard again at the next supervisor meeting on September 13th for a final decision.

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 at www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Greene Approves Budget, Sets New Tax Rate

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Historically when the Greene County Board of Supervisors meet to discuss the new budget and tax rates, it draws a large turnout and the meeting is moved to the Performing Arts Center at the high school. It starts an hour early and goes late into the night. This year the plan was the same for the meeting on April 26th, except only one speaker addressed the Board.

Greene had advertised a personal property tax rate of $.775/$100 of assessed value – an increase of $.025/$100 or 3.3%. Chairman Bill Martin asked County Administrator John Barkley to outline the process that brought them to the $.775 rate

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John Barkley

Barkley indicated that revenues for the current year are on target and there is a healthy reserve fund balance. He was complimentary of the county departments since 21 departments presented reduced budget requests. The increase of $.025/$100 will generate additional revenue of $460,000. In terms of the impact to a homeowner – a home assessed at $200,000 would require $50 in additional property taxes. All other tax rates will stay the same in the county.

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Sharon Mack

The meeting then shifted to comments from the public. The only person to sign up was Greene County School Board Chair Sharon Mack. She thanked the Board for their support and explained why the school’s requested near a 3% increase. She indicated that the main driver is that teachers have been budgeted a 3% increase and a 5% increase for has been budgeted for teacher assistants in order to remain competitive in attracting and keeping good teachers and their assistants. In closing, she appreciated that the Board of Supervisors fully funded the schools request.

With the public hearing closed, the discussion then shifted back to the Board members. Supervisor Dale Herring (At-Large) said that in addition to the 21 departments reducing costs, 16 had no increase and some had less than $1,000 increase. The budget addresses current and future needs, especially the water impoundment.

Supervisor Jim Frydl (Midway) agreed with Herring and expanded on the school situation. In the past 4-5 years there has been an increase of 14% in number of students with fewer teachers rather than adding teachers. His other main comment was that Greene doesn’t act like D.C. – in Greene we invest in key functions especially for the long term, such as water and sewer and water impoundment.

Supervisor David Cox (Monroe) has seen Greene grow over the years and he stated that the school system is the future of Greene County and it is playing catch up. We have major issues to address in the water impoundment and the fact that the schools don’t have enough capacity for the growth we’ve experienced. imageHe also highlighted the poor emergency communication capability where a firefighter was in a burning building a year ago and he couldn’t talk to people 200 feet away. It almost cost him his life.

Vice Chair Michelle Flynn (Ruckersville)  indicated that during her orientation she heard of counties raising their personal property tax rates more than $.10/$100. She was glad that Greene could hold to only a $.025 tax increase.

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Bill Martin

Chairman Bill Martin (Stanardsville) believes that the table is set for Greene County. The county has a great school system but we need more commercial expansion to increase our tax base. The water impoundment is the lynch pin to the county’s progress. However, the budget incrementally adds over $680,000 in new expenditures (the largest component being $170,000 for the regional jail) but only has new revenue of $460,000. The additional $120,000 would equate to an additional tax rate increase of $.012/$100 or a total tax rate of $.037/$100 of assessed value. This imbalance caused Martin to not support the budget.

Cox made a motion to approve the budget and the tax rate Frydl seconded the motion which passed of 4-1 (Martin opposed). At the first Board of Supervisors meeting in May, the Board will vote to appropriate funds for fiscal year 2017.

However, several questions came out of the budget process……..

1) how much Reserve Fund is left vs. the balance the auditors recommend having?

2) does the county have enough cash on hand going forward to get through the low periods right before the semiannual personal property tax payments?

3) should there be a “cash only” minimum balance in order to be able to pay the bills every month?

4) how should Greene look to finance the large, looming expenditures such as the water impoundment and school expansion?

Finance Director/Deputy County Administrator, Tracy Morris provided what the Reserve Balance has been the past four years (calculated at September 30th, the end of the fiscal year):

Fiscal Year Balance

% Decline

% Cumulative Decline

2012 $19,633,000

2013 $17,446,000

11.1%

11.1%

2014 $15,731,000

9.8%

19.9%

2015 $14,412,000

8.4%

26.6%

In the FY2017 budget included a $2,850,000 decline in the Reserve Balance to balance the budget. The FY2016 budget projected a decline in the Reserve Balance of $3,067,000 and with these amounts being used the 2016 and 2017 estimated Reserved Balance would be:

Projected Balance

% Decline

% Cumulative Decline (since 2012)

FY2016

15.6%

42.2%

FY2017

14.5%

56.7%

Two keys to remember are that the Reserve Balance is not all Cash. It is made up of all Balance Sheet accounts – both cash and non-cash. Morris also indicated that all investments of cash have been liquidated. In addition, Board Policy indicates a goal of maintaining a minimum reserve Balance of 15% of income plus 1 month of expense  which seems to be in jeopardy.

There has been discussion that an additional benchmark might be provided to operate the county on a sound financial basis and that would be to have a “cash only” minimum balance. This lead to ask how much cash does the county have which Morris directed to the County Treasurer, Stephanie Deal.

Deal provided the following detail of the cash balance by year in the two months (June and December) before personal property taxes are collected.

FY2012 FY2013 FY2014 FY2015 FY2016
April $8,855 $9,925 $6,873 $7,712 TBD
May $10,851 $13,951 $11,746 $12,050 TBD
October $8,999 $10,758 $8,389 $8,777 $7,794
November $10,869 $13,878 $11,026 $11,461 $10,829

(All numbers in thousands) *Fiscal Year ends 9/30

The trend shows a steady decline in the cash balance after peaking in 2013, similar, but not as steep as the decline in the Reserve Balance over the same period. May and November showing increases in the cash balance indicate that a large portion of the county pays their personal property taxes in the month before they are due.

As for Frydl’s comment that Greene County is not like Washington, D.C. he is currently correct – Greene got out of borrowing that plagued the county in the past. There is concern that there are major projects on the horizon – the water impoundment project for over $40,000,000 and the study currently being conducted on the physical needs of the school system – price to be determined.

The “good news” about the schools teaching more students with fewer teachers while on the surface sounds good but it is a concern whether it is sustainable. Cuts have been made to administrative staff causing teachers to take on more “non-teaching” tasks with growing classrooms. The combination of these issues raises concerns whether Greene County schools will keep their good teachers and help attract businesses to the county.

Lastly, the 2017 budget includes $2,836,000 of Debt Service. The “real” good news is that this amount declines annually the next nine years (2018 to 2026). Absent any new debt being acquired, starting in 2027 the annual decline jumps to $1,952,000 (in one year) and gets bigger the next 10 years to $2,224,000 in 2036. The total decline for the 11 year period is $19,288,000 and for the total 20 year period the total reduction will be nearly $27 million.

The chart below shows the trend line going down – significantly in the out years providing a source of revenue within the existing debt structure.

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Will this reduction in existing debt service be enough to fund all the projects needed to be done in Greene? Probably not, but it is a good start for the future.

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 at www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Photo Credits: Greene County, Greene County Record, Martin Campaign

Spilt Fluvanna BOS Increases Tax Rate

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

It took a while, but the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors voted to raise real estate taxes for the upcoming year.  It took three motions for the majority of the supervisors to vote to make the real estate tax rate $0.917 per $100 assessed. Chairman Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) joined Mozell Booker (Fork Union District) and Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) voting in favor of the tax rate and associated budget. Patricia Eager (Palmyra District) and Don Weaver (Cunningham District) dissented.

While less than requested, the budget that passed includes $1.1 million more for the schools, compared to the FY16 budget. $300,000 of that is slated in the Capital Improvements Plan for technology upgrades.  According to state code, the School Board has the final authority regarding their spending. The FY17 request from the School Board was $1.6 million.

The rest of the county budget increase includes additional funds for new positions on county staff, county staff pay increase and some modest increases for various county departments.

The budget didn’t pass easily. First, the supervisors discussed the tax rates they were individually comfortable passing. O’Brien and Booker advocated for $0.92 per $100 because it included the $1.1 million for the schools.

OBrien2014 photo credit Fluvanna County

Fluvanna Supervisor Tony O’Brien

O’Brien noted there hasn’t been a large outcry on the advertised budget. He still mentioned the supervisors have to weigh the upcoming years.

“It isn’t going to get easier next year or the year after that. I understand that,” said O’Brien. He concluded if supervisors don’t do as much as they could for the schools this year, it would set deferred programs even further back.

Weaver and Eager advocated for no tax increase. Eager suggested there is no outcry because there is a sentiment that supervisors aren’t listening.

“I think a lot of people have given up,” said Eager.

Sheridan ended the discussion saying he heard residents say they understand the rate will rise but wanted a modest increase. He suggested $0.914 per $100. That would give schools $1 million.

O’Brien made a motion for Sheridan’s suggested $0.914. Booker slowly seconded the motion to bring it to a vote. It failed 3-2 with Booker joining Eager and Weaver voting against it.

Booker2014

Fluvanna Supervisor Mozell Booker

Booker viewed that extra $100,000 for schools as very important because it provided the opportunity to hire additional staff such as a psychologist.

Booker then moved a $0.92 rate with O’Brien seconding. That restored the $100,000 for the schools, added increases for county departments and included a small capital depreciation fund that would offset future replacement costs of buildings.

That motion failed on a 3-2 vote with Sheridan, Eager and Weaver voting against it.

O’Brien moved a $0.917 tax rate. The budget for $0.917 was the same as $0.92 but removed the capital depreciation fund. It also took $13,000 from the $1.1 million the schools were to receive so total county revenue would equal expenditures.

After calling for a vote, Booker and O’Brien voted in favor with Eager and Weaver voting against it. Sheridan announced it passed with the chairman voting in favor.

The CIP was unanimously approved. Included on it were $6 million of water projects and first priority projects around the county.

The vote on the budget was witnessed by many of the same people who watched the budget work sessions. Missing was general county residents. It was largely a process watched by interested parties such as county staff, constitutional officers, volunteer organizational leaders, volunteers on county boards and media. Most meetings were watched by less than a handful of people outside of those groups.

Also at the April 20 meeting, the supervisors unanimously approved a small home industry to operate on Bybee’s Church Road. Two home businesses related to natural healing.

The meeting ended with a discussion on scheduling who will be the chairperson on a rotating basis. Booker raised the point as a way to have the chairperson role rotate through the board.

Both Booker and O’Brien were concerned about the process of selecting a chairman this past year. Weaver said he had no issue with the way it worked.

State code requires local boards to elect a chairperson unless a chairperson is voted by the constituency. There could be an agreement how the chair will rotate, but it would still have to be voted on regularly.

The supervisors didn’t have any resolution on the item after discussion.  The next Board of Supervisors meeting is May 4 at 4 p.m.

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bryan-rothamelThe 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.

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum

Photo Credit: Fluvanna County