Tag Archives: tax rate

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.

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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

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Fluvanna Chairman Sheridan Wields Tax Rate Swing Vote

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors budget season is winding down and guesses where the vote will end are still speculating.

Throughout all the work sessions and discussion, there are still obvious divisions on where the supervisors sit on the issue.

Conservatives Patricia Eager (Palmyra District) and Don Weaver (Cunningham District) are standing pat at not raising taxes. The current real estate tax rate is $0.899 per $100 of assessed value. The personal property tax rate is $4.35 per $100 of assessed value.

"You just can’t continually raise rates every year," said Weaver at the April 6 board meeting. "You can’t do that."

Eager added, "I think [raising rates] is a bad precedent…There’s no end."

Mozell Booker (Fork Union District) and Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) have been quite open to a $0.92 real estate tax rate.

A tax increase of 2.1 pennies would fund new positions in the Sheriff’s Office, E-911, Convenience Center, Social Services and Library. It would include a pay increase for staff, establish a capital depreciation fund, matching grand funding for a commercial kitchen, increase fire and rescue funding and allow more legal advertising of county functions.

Under the $0.92 tax rate, schools would get $700,000 additional funding over last year’s base and $300,000 for technology upgrades will go into the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).

No raise in tax rates means all of the above does not happen. Schools would only get $400,000 over last year’s funding and the $300,000 for technology would still stay in the CIP.

There is still $170,000 in the staff’s proposed allocation of a flat tax rate budget to move some things around.

It seems Eager and Weaver are tied together as Booker and O’Brien are.

Sheridan2014That leaves Chairman Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) as the tie breaking vote. The biggest issue? Last month he asked to see a budget with a $0.91 tax rate.

Staff has recommended a tax rate of either $0.914 or $0.92. The difference between the two are $171,000.

The supervisors spent a lot of time on the budget only to be in the predictable position of Eager/Weaver and Booker/O’Brien pairing together.

The board will meet on April 13 at 7 p.m. for a public hearing on the budget and CIP. On April 20 the supervisors are slated to vote on the budget.

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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

Fluvanna Increases Tax Rates

By Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

Fluvanna BOS_group2014_smThe Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors passed the budget on a unanimous vote for the second time in three years.

The budget season was without much fanfare besides the long work session that set up the final budget. No residents even spoke at the public hearing. The advertised budget of $68.3 million passed without further discussion on April 15.

The real estate tax rate goes from $0.86 (equalized) to $0.899 per $100 assessed. The personal property rate goes from $4.15 to $4.35 per $100 assessed.

Before the board passed the budget and corresponding tax rates, it did vote to de-fund five previously approved capital improvement plans totaling $505,000. That will help offset some costs for this year’s capital improvement plan.

LMVFD LogoThe bulk of the April 15 meeting was spent on a rezoning request from the Lake Monticello Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad. The LMVFRS has purchased land adjacent to its current property in hopes of expanding the original building.

The current property is zoned R-4 and the purchased property is A-1. The plan is for the expansion of the building to straddle the property line. In order to do so, the county advises for the property in total to have the same zoning.

LMVFRS, in requesting the rezoning, offered proffers to eliminate the R-4 by-right opportunities of single-family dwellings, single-family attached dwellings and townhomes. The applicant did not proffer out multifamily dwelling.

Len Bozza, representative of the applicant, said he wanted to leave that option of a small multifamily building as a way to attract future volunteers. He said the volunteer organization could offer reduced rent to people who run a high percentage of calls.

The planned expansion of the building will only take up half of the six acres of the property. With the remaining three acres, a rental building of less than 10 units could be constructed.

Leaving that option almost stopped the rezoning. O’Brien moved to pass the rezoning but it couldn’t get a second.

Two neighboring residents were concerned with what the proffers left out. It also concerned three supervisors who were failing to second the motion. Bozza offered to proffer out the multifamily units. The rezoning then passed 5-0.

Supervisors will advertise an ordinance to allow participation in the Virginia Association of Counties/Virginia Municipal League  Virginia Investment Pool Trust Fund. To allow the county’s finance board to participate, the supervisors have to pass an ordinance, which requires a public hearing.

Participating in the investment pool will diversify the county’s investments and slight increase in revenue of county reserves. The net yield of the investment pool in February was 0.58%. The public hearing is scheduled for May 20.

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bryan-rothamel.jpgThe 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 Credits: Fluvanna County, Lake Monticello Volunteer Fire Department

Fluvanna’s Budget Work Session Unanimity

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

What does a 5-0 vote mean for a budget by the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors?

Last time an unanimous vote passed a budget Shaun Kenney was chairman. Joe Chesser was the Rivanna District supervisor. The five supervisors voted for a real estate tax decrease in that 2013 budget calendar.

What did a 5-0 vote mean in 2013? Everyone was kind of happy and everyone was kind of unhappy.

The total amount allocated to the 2013 school budget was more than Don Weaver (Cunningham District), Bob Ullenbruch (Palmyra District), Kenney and Chesser wanted. It was less than current chairwoman Mozell Booker (Fork Union District) wanted. The tax rate was lower than Booker wanted, higher than the four gentlemen wanted.

Booker was chastised by her supporters for compromising down. The conservative and conservative leaning supervisors heard it from their supporters on why not cut taxes more.

pie varietyOverall, in 2013 everyone got a little bit of the pie they wanted but no one got the pie they ordered.

It is beginning to look like the 2015 supervisors want to bring the restricted pie menu back.

The air of unanimity started in force at the March 11 work session. Ullenbruch brought in an idea of a real estate tax rate of $0.895 per $100 assessed and a personal property tax rate of $4.50 per $100 assessed. The current personal property is $4.15.

The next revenue idea is raising fees residents pay. That includes increasing the vehicle and motorcycle sticker fees by $5. That would get higher as the night progressed. (Fluvanna no longer issues a sticker but the fee is still called the ‘vehicle sticker fee.)

“I can agree with that. That’s a no brainer,” said Weaver, the most conservative supervisor, about raising fees.

Why are supervisors throwing in so many revenue ‘ingredients’ into this year’s ‘budget pie’? The budget has a lot of forces on it.

Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) said, “Let’s not fool ourselves, our budget is a tight budget.”

It is so tight, even Weaver doesn’t argue a real estate rate increase is inevitable. He said he could support a real estate rate under $0.90 so that bumped the rate from Ullenbruch’s $0.895 to $0.899. It stayed there the entire almost five hour work session.

The personal property tax rate was in question. Weaver said he wouldn’t go to $4.50. He said he preferred $4.25. It was quickly shown the board couldn’t get the votes at $4.25 because it wouldn’t be enough revenue. Weaver listened to a $4.35 personal property rate by the end of the night.

So what increases were brought into expenditures?

The FY16 budget proposal from county administrator Steve Nichols took 10 percent from operations across every department, the vast majority were already operating very close to the margins. Supervisors advertised a real estate rate that corresponded to a five percent cut. At the work session, all operation budgets for departments was restored.

Supervisors also increased money for Lake Monticello Fire and Rescue to help pay its expansion efforts. Also increased the Commonwealth’s Attorney budget for a paralegal.

The big ticket item: schools. At one point, four supervisors had the school budget fully funded. That would’ve been a $900,000 increase over last year. Then that dropped to $800,000 in an effort to compromise.

It wasn’t compromise enough without adding to the $0.899 real estate rate and $4.35 personal property rate.

“Seven [hundred thousand] on the schools is too low,” said O’Brien. “Seven fifty (750,000) on the schools.”

While it wasn’t what was requested but sources close to the School Board Administration office have said administrators never thought to get the $600,000 that was in the supervisors budget weeks ago.

“[Next year], that’s the bad part, because you don’t know about next year,” said Weaver. Until Fluvanna diversifies its revenue base, increasing tax rates will be a yearly tradition.

So what’s the revenue sources looking like after the work session?

Real estate tax rate of $.899 per $100 assessed.

Personal property tax rate of $4.35 per $100 assessed.

Vehicle fees increased by $5 – $10 each.

Supervisors will vote on a budget to advertise at the March 18 meeting at 7 p.m. At 5 p.m. the supervisors will have a work session to iron out the budget for a final time before the regular meeting.

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bryan-rothamel.jpgThe 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 Considers a $.935 Property Tax Rate

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors voted on Feb. 18 to advertise a maximum real estate tax rate of $0.935 per $100 assessed.

Fluvanna BOS_group2014_sm

Fluvanna Board of Supervisors

The supervisors got a 4-1 vote on advertising the tax rate for over 30 days. Don Weaver (Cunningham District) dissented. The $0.935 is the absolute ceiling but supervisors can vote to lower it from there.

How the rate changed from county administrator Steve Nichols’ budget proposal of $0.895 was increasing county departments funding across the board, JAUNT, Region 10, Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Sheriff’s Office. Increasing the tax revenue also allowed to account for raises for county staff and the school budget line increase.

Nichols’ proposal had cut county departments operationally 10 percent across the board. The proposed rate increase would bring that decrease in half, to five percent. JAUNT and Region 10 were had received a cut in Nichols proposals but both agencies were increased in the current supervisors’ draft.

The increase in DSS budget was to add an employee. The county pays only a portion of the staff salary so for a modest amount, the county gets a full salary position. The Sheriff Office increase was to help alleviate any need to lower staffing next year. Part time deputies and a school resource officer were potentially up for cuts.

Increasing revenue for a potential government employees’ raise was because of a current proposal in the General Assembly. The raises would allow the county to pay a portion of increasing staff pay. Nichols’ budget included just a $500 bonus for staff.

The schools were only getting an increase of $331,000 in Nichols’ proposal. However, that was more like level funding because the state’s contribution next year would be $331,000 less.

The supervisors cannot dictate how the School Board allocates its budget. However, the supervisors found merit to increase the school budget line by another $579,000 because of staff raises (similarly as described above) and health insurance increases. The School Board will have final say of how its budget allocation is spent but the increase was in the spirit of those items.

The School Board requested $334,000 more than what is in the Board of Supervisors’ current draft budget.

“I’m extremely sensitive to the economy,” schools superintendent Gena Keller told the board as she presented her budget.

She later said, “We end the budget year sliding into home.”

Supervisors added to the tax rate for staff pay and health insurance increase but items like additional school staff, staff development and technology would’ve required another penny to a penny and a half.

“I want the schools to get everything they need but we need to find places,” said chairwoman Mozell Booker (Fork Union District).

OBrien2014

Fluvanna Supervisor Tony O’Brien

Rivanna District supervisor Tony O’Brien said, “My opinion, the (school) budget presented is a good budget. We are just short-changing ourselves.”

The county has to fund increases in CSA, jail and debt service. New projects like Zion Crossroads water infrastructure and James River Water Authority are also bearing the reason for a tax increase.

Now supervisors will hold a public hearing on April 1 on the tax rate. The $0.935 per $100 assessed is the maximum it can be set. Supervisors can vote to have a lower tax rate.

This year supervisors have to advertise the rate for 30 days because of the reassessment. Property values increased more than one percent and state code requires additional advertisement time because of it.

Also at the Feb. 18 meeting, supervisors approved rezoning land in the Zion Crossroads area from agricultural to industrial. The land is currently used as a lumber yard. The new zoning will allow a 24,000 square foot storage building for the wood pellets operation.

The board also approved requiring by ordinance a public notice road sign any time a zoning or special use permit hearing is required. Previously it was done as practice but now it will be required by county code.

Supervisors approved confirming Feb. 17 as a local emergency event, thus allowing response to the winter weather to be eligible for possible state funds.

Finally, the board awarded a contract for the Fork Union Streetscape Project. The project will dress up Route 15 from the post office to Route 6. The 1,600 feet will get additional sidewalk, curb and guttering. New street lights and trees will be installed.

The Board of Supervisors will next convene on Feb. 25 for a budget work session with constitutional officers.

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bryan-rothamel.jpgThe 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 Credits: Fluvanna County

Fluvanna 4% Property Tax Increase Proposed

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

The Fluvanna County Administrator presented his fiscal year 2016 (FY16) budget to the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday (2/4).

Nichols2014Steve Nichols, county administrator, kicked off the heart of the budget season with a budget that included increasing the tax rate by four percent. The increase in revenue is to help maintain county services, provide stable school funding, invest in the infrastructure and other county priorities.

“The only thing that has gone down (in price) the last few years is gas and big screen TVs,” Nichols said.

The budget increases are for the jail, CSA, emergency management and schools.

Originally the jail was projected to be an increase of over $700,000 [See related post here]. The jail board still has not adopted a budget but projections from the subcommittee have the increase pegged at $350,000 and that could even go lower. The CSA budget is unpredictable based on participation. If one child over projection enters the program, the budget can need to be increased.

The emergency management budget increases but so could revenue, potentially. Providing 24-hour contract services comes to a total cost of $615,000 . The night service portion is six percent more than the day services the county authorized in FY15.

If the board votes this spring to start emergency transport cost recovery, that will help offset costs of emergency services. Nichols put in $150,000 into the revenue portion of the budget in anticipation the board will vote to implement some form of a cost recovery program.

“We believe it is a revenue stream … between $400,000 and $600,000,” said Nichols but conservatively budgeted the $150,000 amount.

School administration sent a budget proposal with a local funding request of over $1 million more than last year. Nichols budget only bumped it up by $330,000.

The extra amount, like many things, fell to the cutting room floor.

That list included a paralegal for the Commonwealth’s Attorney, two full-time E911 communication positions, salary increases for county staff and others.

Across county departments, most suffered a 10 percent decrease in operational budget. And still the tax rate would need an increase.

What will loom over the county for at least the next 15 years is the county’s debt load. This year’s budget includes $400,000 increase in debt service for middle school renovation projects approved last year.

Existing county and school debt amounts to over $7.6 million. That’s the equivalent of 28 cents on the tax rate.

In Nichols’ budget includes water system for Zion Crossroads and James River Water Authority Costs. The Zion Crossroads water system will increase the county debt service but it is viewed as a way out from continually increasing tax rates.

This year, Fluvanna is projecting a five-year forecast to see how future budgets will look, conceptually, based on what decisions are made this year. It includes a two percent rate of inflation along with anticipation of certain upcoming projects.

The projection based off of Nichols’ budget shows a real estate tax rate of $1.05 in FY17, $1.06 in FY16 and FY19 and a $1.11 in FY20.

“Even if they are ballpark figures, it is alarming,” said Don Weaver (Cunningham District).

Nichols replied, “It is absolutely alarming.”

The reassessment brings last year’s $0.88 real estate tax rate to an equalized rate of $0.86. Nichols’ proposed balanced budget he presented Wednesday would need a $0.895 real estate tax rate. The personal property rate of $4.15 was not changed.

The Board of Supervisors will have to operate a bit differently this year because of the reassessment taking affect. Supervisors will have to advertise a maximum tax rate for 30 days. That rate is the absolute maximum and can only be decreased.

The supervisors will set that maximum rate on Feb. 18 with a public hearing in the end of March.

Supervisors are scheduled for work sessions and/or regular meetings for each Wednesday until April 15.

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bryan-rothamel.jpgThe 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 Credits: Fluvanna County

Fluvanna Supervisors Prepare for Tax Increase

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.

Ullenbruch - Nov 2012 Web

Fluvanna Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch (Palmyra District)

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.

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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.

Fluvanna Supervisors Prepare for 11% Property Tax Increase

By. Brian Rothamel, Field Officer

The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors budget numbers are coming into focus and it appears an 11 percent real property tax rate increase is possible.

The supervisors spent March 12 in work session going over Steve Nichols’, county administrator, budget proposal and adding or subtracting from it. Nichols’ budget included a real property tax rate of $0.85 per $100 assessed.

Supervisor additions included money for Sheriff’s department, Lake Monticello Volunteer Fire and Rescue, parks and recreation, library staffing, economic development advertising, debt service for school capital improvement projects and increase county staff pay.

The supervisors found deductions in school resource officer funding and county staff health costs.

All told, the deliberations increased the tax rate another penny and a half.

The bulk of the contentious talks and tax increase centered around what to do with how much county contribution to the School Board budget. Also on March 12, the School Board approved a budget that will request $1.678 million more than FY14.

Nichols included $1 million than the previous year. Supervisors began the talk by picking where each stood individually.

“No department got what they asked for,” said Bob Ullenbruch. He said he didn’t like the $1 million figure but would be ok with it in the budget.

Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) said he would like to see $1.3 million to $1.4 million over FY14 baseline.

“I just know where they’ve been,” said Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) as he announced he was in favor of $1.5 million additional funding.

Chairwoman Mozell Booker (Fork Union District) concurred with Sheridan.

Don Weaver (Cunningham District) approached it differently. Instead of building the budget and finding the suitable tax rate, he wanted to build a base budget then decide the tax rate to drive the rest.

“Where that tax rate ends up is going to change things; the county side and the school side,” said Weaver as he looked over the increases.

With each penny of real property tax making up $260,000, the budget with changes made during the work session jumped to $0.88 per $100 assessed. Even that still left a $19,000 deficit.

“It was easy to predict this was going to happen,” said O’Brien, referencing last year’s decision to cut taxes.

A look at the school historical numbers show the county still is not at 2009 local contribution numbers and neither is the state or federal governments. The proposed FY15 state budget is near the FY08 level. The FY15 federal numbers are the lowest in 10 years and 13 percent smaller than the second lowest number, occurring in 2005, in the past decade.

“We are being asked to make up for state and federal cuts,” said Ullenbruch.

Supervisors will formally hear the School Board presentation on March 19. Following the school budget presentation, supervisors will hold their normally scheduled meeting. The agenda includes setting an advertised budget, both personal and real property tax rates and the capital improvements plan.

The advertisement of the group begins a two week timeline of advertisement that culminates in a public hearing on the group. Following the public hearing supervisors can vote on approving each. Once a tax rate is advertised, supervisors can only pass an equal or lower rate. If supervisors wish to raise from the advertised rate, the timeline must be restarted.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to advertise a rate with wiggle room. For example, if the workshopped $0.88 budget is the settled amount amongst at least three supervisors, seeing an advertised rate of $0.89 would not surprise those close to the board.

“This budget season we did not look at alternative revenue sources,” said O’Brien.

The idea of different taxes or fees has been brought up before by Ullenbruch. Possibilities include business/professional/occupational licenses, emergency revenue recovery and lodging/meals tax.

“We can work at starting to stabilize this,” said O’Brien.

The March 19 meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Fluvanna Circuit Courtroom.

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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.

Fluvanna Supervisors Prepare for Budget Discussions

By Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

Prepare the for the marathon that will be the next two weeks of the final month of Fluvanna’s budget calendar.

The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors will meet on Wednesday, March 12 for a work session for the entire budget, including revenues, expenditures and the capital improvement plan (CIP).

Where their minds are? In the public session of last week’s meeting, Bob Ullenbruch (Palmyra District) doesn’t think the supervisors are as far along as they should be.

Ullenbruch - Nov 2012 Web

Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch

“We’ve got one week,” said Ullenbruch in reference to the scheduled work session on March 12.

He reference how his first budget cycle included a meeting that lasted until midnight to discuss every item.

“There are some numbers in there (the budget and CIP) that are place holders,” said Ullenbruch.

Chairwoman Mozell Booker (Fork Union District) countered, “For all the concerns we have, we have solutions.”

Booker had confidence the supervisors could pass a budget in the time allocated.

County administrator, Steve Nichols, assured the board his staff was prepared to adjust numbers and scenarios on the fly.

“We are ready to work at whatever speed you want to,” said Nichols.

The FY15 budget is tight. Supervisors have discussed large items like $10 million worth of debt service for the CIP and painfully went through projects to see if there were savings of $20,000 here and there to piece together.

The budget is built with a higher anticipated tax revenue collection rate, using historical figures. The adjustment allowed to budget revenue as if there were an extra penny on the real estate tax.

The question mark Don Weaver (Cunningham District) had was the school system budget. The School Board will submit a budget on March 19. Immediately following its submittal, the supervisors will put the finishing touches on the budget then pass a budget and tax rates to advertise.

The school budget, if higher than anticipated, can really throw the county budget out of sorts. Weaver noted that if the School Board submits a budget higher than the preliminary reports, it could add to the anticipated tax rate.

“To make a decision when you get the budget, that’s not really good,” said Weaver of the tight time frame the supervisors get.

Weaver noted he was ready to work on the budget as long as needed and even schedule another meeting if appropriate.

Two weeks after supervisors advertise the tax rates and budget, they are then eligible to formally approve the tax rates and the budget. After those two weeks supervisors can set a tax rate only lower than what is advertised. The advertised rate is the ceiling tax rate. To raise higher than the advertised rate, it takes another two weeks of public notice and another public hearing.

The Board of Supervisors will meet on March 12 for the work session and March 19 for setting on an advertised budget and the tax rates. Both meetings start at 7 p.m. in the Fluvanna Circuit Courtroom.

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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.

Split Board Approves Greene County Budget 3-2

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

At the previous Board of Supervisors meeting in Greene County  the property tax rate was increased to equalize the reduction in property values so that the same amount of tax revenue would be generated in the coming year. At the May 14th BOS meeting the proposed budget that was being reviewed that held local spending flat and required the school system to absorb lower state and federal funding, as had been requested by the school system.

jim_frydl.jpgBefore discussion of the budget started, Chairman Jim Frydl (Midway District) proposed that a consultant be contracted to review the budget process and provide an evaluation on the process. The only change to the budget that was presented on the 14th was a new request from the Economic Development Authority for additional funding of $12,000 for Small Business Development to hire a part time position. The Board chose not to fund this request in the budget.

davis_lamb.jpgSupervisor Davis Lamb (Ruckersville District) was the first supervisor to speak to the budget and he indicated that he couldn’t approve the advertised budget. He cited many inconsistencies in the school budget and referred to cuts in number of school employees made in 2006/7 and 2008/9 along with the 22.5 employee reduction  required to offset the reduction in state and federal funding but then when he compared number of employees of 2008 vs. 2012 he found there is an increase. He said that he would be a hypocrite if he approved the budget with the schools request when he voted against the higher tax rate. He had agreed to only advertise the $.72/$100 new tax rate but he didn’t favor the schools flat funding.

Chairman Frydl asked Mr. Lamb how much he would reduce the request by but Mr. Lamb didn’t provide a specific figure instead he indicated that it was only the school component of the budget he didn’t approve of – the major part of the budget.

Supervisor Buggs Peyton (Stanardsville District) spoke next and he also said he opposed the proposed budget and stated that the majority of citizens he has spoken with were against tax increases. Also, he argued why should citizens pay a higher rate when their property assessments have declined indicating a decline in the property’s value. He felt that the county should only spend 60% of its revenue for schools. He expressed concern that the Reserve Fund has been drawn down the past two years and that in order to pay for all the future projects being considered the property tax rate would need to go up to $.85/$100. Mr. Peyton also indicated concern that Greene County is heading down a path of financial insecurity and fears that Greene will have to return to borrowing to pay the bills. Currently Greene County has $46 million in debt, the Reserve Fund has been consumed and replenished the past two years and the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) is a wish list and won’t get done. He is fearful that the county is heading down the same path as the federal government and Greene County can’t continue to tax and spend.

Supervisor Eddie Deane (At-Large)  spoke next. He recalled that ten years ago the rate was $.84/$100. The tax rate has eddie_deane_thumb.jpgbeen lowered and now the failure to sell more hook ups to the water and sewer system is causing the cost of that project to be borne by the taxpayers in their tax rate.  He also said it is sad that local communities have to make up for state and federal mandates being passed on without funding. While he believes there may be cuts in spending in every department in the county, he was in favor of the proposed budget.

Supervisor David Cox stated he supports our budget and thanked Tracy Morrisl for her efforts in preparing the budget and he also thanked the school system in responding timely to his requests for additional information. He indicated that he supports the budget even thought his own property taxes will be increasing as a result of an increase in his properties appraised value.

Chairman Frydl spoke last and challenged Mr. Peyton’s comment about the majority of residents in Greene being opposed to tax increases as he has gotten comments supporting both sides. He also agreed with Supervisor Cox’s comment about getting timely responses from the School System. He also disagreed with the 60% limit on school funding stating that the funding requests should be reviewed on an individual basis and not an arbitrary percentage.  He supported the $.72/$100 tax rate and saw no reason to change from the advertised budget.

Mr. Cox proposed a motion to accept the proposed budget which Mr. Deane seconded. The vote of three ayes of Cox, Deane and Frydl carried the motion vs. the two no votes of Peyton and Lamb.

An additional item of note at the meeting was the announcement of Supervisor Buggs Peyton that he will not seek re-election.

The Free Enterprise Forum commends the Greene Board of Supervisors for their clear discussion on the pros and cons of the budget that was approved.

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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