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Free Lance-Star reporter Robyn Sidersky covers Caroline County government and schools. You can reach her at 540/374-5413 or rsidersky@freelancestar.com. You can follow coverage on Facebook or Twitter as well.

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02/10/11 BOS meeting recap

Here’s my live blog on FredTalk: http://fredtalk.fredericksburg.com/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=1626909&an=0&page=0#Post1626909

From the County website:

Ashcraft Proposes Tax Hike,  Increased Education Spending

Caroline County Administrator Percy Ashcraft proposed a $0.22 cent increase in the real property tax rate Thursday night that would pay for increases in education and debt service in fiscal year 2012.

Ashcraft presented the proposed FY ’12 Budget to the Board of Supervisors at its only regular meeting this month. A public hearing on the annual spending plan will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 8.

The reassessment of real property in 2010 decreased revenue by 16 percent or $2.7 million, Ashcraft said in his presentation. In order to make up the difference, $0.10 of the proposed increase will go to equalize the tax rate. The other $0.12 breaks down as follows:

  • Increases in debt service – $0.06.
  • Increases to local school share – $0.03.
  • Establishment of debt reserve fund – $0.03.

Ashcraft’s proposal gives the Public School Division $750,000 above last year’s appropriation of $11 million. Also proposed is a General Fund transfer of $3,062,800 for debt retirement to cover various capital projects that are included in the budget.

Ashcraft also alerted the members of the Board of Supervisors that FY ’13 will see increases in debt retirement. He proposed the establishment of a Debt Reserve Fund that will be set aside to help cover increased debt costs in FY ’13. A total of $744,387 is included for future debt payments.

Other spending increases in the budget include escalating costs at regional correctional institutions in the amount of $437,143. Ashcraft also proposed three new full-time positions – Business License Clerk in the Commissioner of the Revenue’s Office; Purchasing Manager in the Finance Department; and Law Enforcement Planner in the Sheriff’s Office, which is now a part-time position. The three positions will cost the County $121,906 if approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Ashcraft also included $217,404 in additional funds for the Comprehensive Services Act. He also is asking the Board to fund the Summer Jobs Program for County youth at $10,000 to assist the Public Works Division in its building and grounds maintenance over the summer months.

Ashcraft also included various capital projects in his proposal. They include:

  • Construction of a new fire station in Sparta – $1 million.
  • Construction of a new fire station in Carmel Church – $1 million.
  • Equipment for the new fire station in Carmel Church – $750,000.
  • Installation of new public safety radio system – $12.1 million.
  • Improvements to the Ladysmith solid waste convenience site – $200,000.
  • Construction of a new YMCA in Ladysmith (to be paid for by developer proffers and private donations) – $6 million.
  • Implementation of GIS system – $113,400.
  • Van for Parks & Recreation Department – $28,000.

Ashcraft also proposed improvements to the County Park at $2.1 million, but only if the matter was put before the voters for approval in a future bond referendum.

Three projects for improvements to public education were included in Ashcraft’s proposal:

  • HVAC system at Caroline High School – $3.75 million.
  • Renovations to Caroline High School – $5.75 million.
  • Renovations to Bowling Green Primary School – $9 million.

Ashcraft also proposed a five percent rate hike in water and sewer rates for customers utilizing public utilities. That would generate $235,669 for the Utility Fund to continue to keep it self-sufficient in its operations.

Ashcraft did not propose any salary increases for County personnel. Last year County employees took as much as a two percent pay decrease in order to balance the budget.

The overall General Fund budget is 15 percent greater than the amended budget in FY ’11.

Other matters before the Board of Supervisors included:

  • Adopted a resolution in honor of African-American History Month for February.
  • Approved the lease-purchase of 17 new vehicles for the Sheriff’s Office.
  • Received a presentation on a new County radio system and gave authorization to release a Request for Proposals.
  • On the Consent Agenda, approved the purchase of a new sound system for the auditorium of the Community Services Center in the amount of $44,946.
  • Deferred the approval of an agreement to renovate the wastewater treatment plant for 30 days.
  • On the Consent Agenda, adopted a resolution authorizing the execution and delivery of a continuing disclosure agreement in connection with the issuance by the Virginia Public School Authority of its school refinancing bonds.
  • On the Consent Agenda, approved an insurance claim for Reedy Church resident George Spinner.
  • On the Consent Agenda, gave approval to repair the roof of the old historic jail through a “Firm Fixed Contract” in the amount of $4,900.
  • On the Consent Agenda, named the relocated Route 652 “Carmel Church Loop.”
  • Held a public hearing on a proposed amendment to provide reduced sewer availability fee for certain customers. Action was deferred until March 8 when another public hearing will be held.
  • Approved a request by Juan D. Young to pull his rezoning request to build a motel near Golansville Road and Route 1.
  • Received an update on the 2010 Census from Planning Director Mike Finchum and discussed future appointments on the Redistricting Committee.
  • Advanced to Second Reading an ordinance to prohibit parking of trucks in residential areas.

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