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Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Budget presented Tuesday

County Administrator Doug Barnes will present his fiscal year 2011 budget to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday night. 

What we know off the bat is that this budget proposal is going to have an equalized tax rate. The last-released equalized rate was 83 cents, and that will likely be the rate shown on Tuesday night.

FLS schools reporter Pam Gould has reported that Barnes also plans to propose that the schools get the name amount of money they got for this current budget, $113.8 million. He also has said he does not plan to propose any layoffs in the budget and he made that message clear to the fire, rescue and emergency management employees very early in the process. 

Supervisors Hap Connors and Gary Skinner were in favor of advertising a higher tax rate than what Barnes had proposed in the budget that started last July. That budget did have layoffs and double-digit million-dollar cuts in spending. From sources, I would not be surprised if there are two more votes on the Board of Supervisors to advertise a higher tax rate, instead of just the equalized rate.Advertising a higher rate does not mean raising taxes is the will of the Board of Supervisors; it is asking county residents the permission to raise taxes, and you can voice your opinion at the budget public hearing scheduled for April. 

The governor’s budget included something like $700-plus million education cuts.This news may force the local School Board to make additional cuts to its budget approved last week.  

 If the Board of Supervisors does not advertise a rate higher than 83 cents per $100 of assessed value real estate, it would have to schedule a new public hearing. The law says that once a rate is advertised, the Board of Supervisors can only lower that rate after a public hearing; a decision to increase it would mean a new public hearing. County treasurer Larry Pritchett always reminds supervisors that he needs to know what the tax rate will be by the third week of April so he can send tax bills out on time. If he cannot do that, it causes real problems for paying the bills on time. 

The past three budget public hearings have been relatively quiet and quick. I have a feeling this hearing won’t be quiet and quick. 

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