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Spotsy schools lower estimated shortfall

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The Spotsylvania County School Board may not need as much local taxpayer money as it previously thought in order to balance the school system’s spending plan.

During a joint meeting Tuesday with the Board of Supervisors, school officials said their estimated shortfall is now $1.585 million, or $315,000 less than they thought it would be in February. If that gap is not closed, the School Board says it will have to cut unspecified programs or positions through attrition.

School Board Chairman James Meyer noted the uncertainty over state funding before saying: “The only thing we can really count on is what you folks can do for us. That we can count on.”

Supervisors did not say whether they would close the shortfall at Tuesday’s meeting.

A public hearing on the proposed spending plan and tax rates for the fiscal year that begins July 1 will be held April 3 at 6:30 p.m. in Courtland High School’s auditorium.

The School Board has said it will provide employee raises—a 1 percent cost-of-living increase and a step increase on the salary scale—even if supervisors don’t approve a funding increase for public schools. Teachers, who have not gotten step increases since 2008, would receive a 2.86 percent pay hike on average, according to information distributed at the meeting.

Supervisors have advertised a real estate tax rate of 87 cents per $100 of assessed value, or a penny less than the current rate. On average, residential property owners would pay $54 more in real estate taxes under that rate because home values went up in this year’s reassessment.

The advertised personal property tax rate is $6.80 per $100 of assessed value, a 43-cent increase. The county says that rate would generate about $50.1 million, or $2.8 million more than the current rate.

Because of a decline in car values, 67 percent of residents would see a drop in their personal property tax bills under the advertised rate—unless they buy new cars, according to county staff. Others would have an increase of no more than $75.

Supervisors can lower but not raise the advertised rates after the budget public hearing.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402