County budget

“Is this a Fluvanna Board?” joked County Administrator Steve Nichols after the vote.  Supervisors almost never agree unanimously on budgets or tax rates.

The advertised budget works with a real estate tax rate of 89.9 cents, a personal property tax rate of $4.35, and a machinery and tools tax of $2.00, all per $100 valuation.  These tax rates will apply for calendar year 2015, not FY16.

“I think the Board worked very hard,” said Supervisor Tony O’Brien after the meeting.  “Mr. Ullenbruch certainly deserves credit for helping to shape how the tax rate was going to look.  I know he worked diligently to try to find consensus among the Board to make this happen.  So I’m really proud of the entire Board.  Mr. Weaver felt uncomfortable with certain items and we were able to take Mr. Ullenbruch’s initial proposal and bring it down a little bit so that everybody could vote on this.”

Certainly in the past consensus has gone awry at the last minute, and with the final budget vote not until April 15 there is ample time for second thoughts.  But O’Brien felt positive.  “I’m very optimistic that the full Board will embrace this budget when it actually happens,” he said.

Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch explained how the consensus came about.  “I put together a budget starting with the county administrator budget last week in work session,” he said.  “I built in most of the add-on items listed tonight… Over the next five hours we added a couple items, subtracted several, and came to agreement on 89.9 cents and $4.35.”

The advertised budget includes almost $750,000 in additional funds for the schools above last year’s baseline, which Nichols said holds the school system harmless from decreases in state funding.  It gives county staff a 1.5 percent cost of living increase in pay.  And it restores the 10 percent cuts in operations across county departments.

In crafting the budget supervisors assumed $100,000 in revenue from a yet-to-be-approved cost recovery program for ambulance transport services.

“This budget cycle was the most difficult to weigh needs and state mandates, at the same time keeping the taxpayer in mind,” said Ullenbruch.  “It is the first time since I have been on the Board that all five members agreed upon a figure that works for the needs of the county.”

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