The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Caroline tries to trim its budget
Fully funding the proposed Caroline County budget for the coming year would require a 5-cent real estate tax increase on residents—something the Board of Supervisors is trying to avoid.
So after County Administrator Charles Culley outlined the proposed $42.4 million budget Thursday night, the board spent the rest of the work session looking for ways to trim it.
Under the existing proposal, real estate taxes would increase from 72 cents to 77 cents per $100 of assessed value. For owners of an average home in Caroline valued at $160,251, that would mean an increase in property taxes of $80.12 per year.
Because there were 4-cent tax increases each of the past two years, the board does not want to raise taxes again. Unfortunately, Caroline’s 2013–14 expenses exceed predicted revenue by $3.6 million. Cutting $1.2 million from the budget would keep real estate taxes stable, but supervisors would still need to increase the personal property tax rate and dip into the county’s fund balance to make up the rest of the difference.
Culley’s proposed budget features about $1.4 million in mandatory spending increases, including debt-service payments. Another $981,694 in increases are optional, he said.
Culley’s proposed budget includes $451,110 more than this year’s budget for the county school system, which is about half of the increase the School Board has requested.
That amount would allow the school system to fund 3-percent raises for staff—which is what county employees are getting—but not the 4-percent raises the School Board was hoping for.
Among cuts the Board of Supervisors suggested Thursday:
- Delay a general property reassessment, saving $203,000.
- Reduce the amount of money set aside for new wells from $250,000 to $100,000, which will still pay for four new wells.
- Cut in half a proposed expenditure of $103,270 for new school buses.
- Trim $115,000 from the fund for new Sheriff’s Office vehicles and another $35,856 in spending on equipment for those cars.
- Scale back a $74,412 transfer to social services to about $34,000.
- While Culley’s proposed budget suggested $157,090 in cumulative increases across various departments, board members said they would like to see that amount cut by about $77,000.
Overall, supervisors identified about $670,000 in potential cuts to the budget, or about half of what Chairman Floyd Thomas wants. They’ll discuss those suggestions more at Tuesday’s board meeting.
In addition to the real estate tax increase, Culley also proposed increasing the personal property tax—which applies to items like cars, trailers and boats—from $3.50 to $4.30 per $100 of assessed value.
That’s an 80-cent increase, but residents probably won’t notice much of a change in their bills.
That’s because instead of applying the tax to the vehicle’s retail value, as has been done in the past, it’ll be applied to the trade value, which is much lower.
The change follows complaints from residents who did not believe their cars or trucks could be sold for the amount of their latest valuations.
The tax is expected to generate about $1.8 million, the same as the lower tax brought in this year, Culley said.
Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413
The Caroline Board of Supervisors will have a joint meeting with the School Board on Tuesday at 5 p.m. and a regular board meeting will follow at 6 p.m.
The board meeting will be in the auditorium of the the Community Services Center, 17202 Richmond Turnpike, Milford. The joint meeting with the School Board will be held in the Emergency Operations Center of the same building.