Bill Sullivan said, “We all knew 12 months ago this budget was going to be a tough one, no matter who was elected or no matter what was said or done, we were going to be looking at a brutal budget year.”  He went on to remind supervisors of the so-called “sustainable” tax rate of 68 cents supported by some on the Board in 2012, which would have equalized, he said, to about 90 cents – two cents more than the rate currently under consideration.

Superintendent Gena Keller presented the School Board’s budget request to supervisors, which contains about $1.678 million more in local funding than last year’s budget.  The requested increase would go to five different areas.

Mandated increases in VRS contributions account for $471,294 of the requested funds.  Revamping the salary scale accounts for another $363,992.  Keller wants to institute a new salary scale for teachers with zero to seven years of experience as well as all teachers hired in Fluvanna after this current school year.  Using amounts from $300 to $700, Keller has also eliminated flat spots or clusters further up on the teacher scale.  These requested funds would also provide a $300 raise for non-teachers and would hold employees harmless for the mandatory increase in employee contributions to VRS.

Staffing needs account for $299,500 of the requested increase.  “Honestly, we could have had millions of dollars there for positions that might be wanted,” Keller said.  Instead the schools are seeking to hire someone to begin the cosmetology/barbering program at the high school, which already has space fitted up for the program.  “We’ve never used it,” Keller said.  “I have concerns even about the warranties if things aren’t working.”  Other positions under consideration include school-level clerical support and positions in math, technology, and human resources.


Another $151,414 would go toward instructional programs, materials, supplies, and technology.  Lastly, $392,457 would help alleviate the schools’ 4.1 percent health insurance increase and the percentage of premiums paid by school employees.

Keller ended her presentation with an appeal to the Board.  “We’ve always been extremely sensitive to the economy; we have not put our heads in the sand about it,” she said.  “I can’t be so charming to the point where I can keep everybody here and keep them hanging in for Fluvanna.  We have got to make some movement.”

Supervisor Tony O’Brien began discussion of the School Board budget by saying, “When you break it down and you look really at the history of the increases that the teachers have received – which has really been stagnant – and you look at the totality of [Keller’s] plan…I really think that trying to find savings on that is ill-advised.”  Soon after, he added, “I know that if I hadn’t given my employees raises for six years that I wouldn’t have very many employees left.”

Supervisor Mike Sheridan added that the cost of health insurance to teachers has “more than doubled.”  O’Brien asserted that the schools are still playing catch-up with teacher salaries, leaving few funds left over for programs.  Agreeing, Keller mentioned an EMT program and a computer networking class that the schools have been interested in pursuing but haven’t due to lack of funds.  “We haven’t even brought that to the table,” she said.

County Administrator Steve Nichols showed the breakdown of the proposed tax increase to 88 cents.  Earlier in the budget process, he and Treasurer Linda Lenherr concluded that, based on historic data, they can safely assume that the county’s tax collection rate will be slightly higher.  In other words, they need not estimate quite as conservatively the number of people who will default on their tax bills.  This assumption essentially equates to another cent of revenue.  Since the current tax rate is 79.5 cents, the difference amounts to 9.5 cents, and is broken down as follows:


0.9 cents more to general government

1.3 cents more to public safety

0.4 cents more to public works

5.5 cents more to schools

1.4 cents more to debt service.


“You can see it’s largely focused on schools and public safety,” Nichols said.

Last year’s overall county budget was about $65.16 million; this year’s county budget, if approved, will be about $80.1 million.  “That scares the heck out of me!” declared Supervisor Don Weaver, noting that constitutes a 22 percent increase.

“Well, a lot of that’s because of the CIP,” responded Finance Director Barbara Horlacher.  This year’s Capital Improvements Plan includes $4.075 million for water and sewer at Zion Crossroads, $2.75 million for James River Water Authority system construction, and $3.6 million for the middle school HVAC.

“The difference from last year to this year…is certainly attributed largely to the CIP, but it’s a big bite,” said Nichols.

“The CIP has always been a big up and down,” Horlacher stated.  “Depending on the timing of your projects you’re not going to have [it be] flat.”

Nichols listed suggestions as to how supervisors could cut the proposed budget and avoid the tax hike.  The list included steps such as reducing staff, deferring facility maintenance, and across-the-board cuts of 1, 5, or even 10 percent.   No supervisor spoke out in favor of those measures, however, which left Chairperson Mozell Booker to call for a vote.

Supervisors then voted 3-2 to advertise the FY15 budget of $80,105,825, along with a real property tax rate of 88 cents per $100 valuation, a personal property tax rate of $4.15 per $100 valuation, and a machinery and tools tax rate of $2 per $100 valuation.  Supervisors Bob Ullenbruch and Weaver dissented.

After the meeting, Weaver offered an explanation of his vote.  “A 22 percent increase is, as far as I’m concerned, completely unacceptable,” he said.  “You can’t spend something that you don’t have.  We’re already in debt $100 million; now we’re going to add more debt to that?…We cannot continue to go on and on – and there are those needs – but something has to be done to hold the costs down.”

Likewise, O’Brien commented, “Without proper explanation it would be easy to misconstrue this budget as just school or out-of-control spending by a ‘liberal Board.’  The community really needs to understand the hike from a historical perspective, a recognition of years of deferred expenses, the lack of economic development, the lean budget of the county and schools, the limited sources of alternative tax revenues, and the seemingly inconsistent application of the tax rate throughout the last several budget cycles despite the aforementioned factors… It is important to note that almost no cuts were identified by the supervisors, a testament to how lean the budget really is.”

The Board will hold a public hearing on Apr. 9 so that citizens can share their thoughts on the proposed budget and tax rate.  Although supervisors can lower the tax rate from what is advertised, they cannot increase it without another public hearing and advertisement period.  The Board is expected to make a final decision on Apr. 16.

In other matters, the Board:

Allocated another $75,000 for the Pleasant Grove House project with the hopes that no additional funds will be needed.

Changed the PPEA guidelines to include assessing a fee on unsolicited proposals so as to recoup the costs of county analysis.

Changed the position of code compliance officer from 28 hours a week to full time for an increased cost of $24,858.

Related Posts

dewi88 cuanslot dragon77 cuan138 enterslots rajacuan megahoki88 ajaib88 warung168 fit188 pusatwin pusatwin slot tambang88 mahkota88 slot99 emas138