Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.
Barnes asks for 3-cent real estate tax increase
County Administrator Doug Barnes is presenting the fiscal year 2011 budget to supervisors now. He is asking for a tax rate of 86 cents per $100 of assessed value, which means more than half of county residents will see no change or a decrease in their tax bills.
This budget includes no layoffs or pay cuts. He said the 3-cent increase is needed to move forward with borrowing for the new circuit court and public safety center, build a new fire-rescue station for Chancellorsville 5 on State Route 3 and buy land for a new Lee Hill station. The increase also keeps transportation projects on schedule because the Virginia Railway Express membership is now expected to bring the county $4.3 million in new revenue from the 2.1 percent gas tax. Basically, the decision to join VRE is saving the Transportation Fund and will ensure transportation projects will stay on schedule.
County employees would get no raises or COLA increases and they will be asked to pay higher premiums for their health insurance. Barnes said the Department of Social Services has a huge workload and they need four new employees to handle the 72 percent increase in applications for help. He is also asking to re-hire a Human Resources director, which has been handled by Deputy County Administrator Ernie Pennington for almost 30 months. Barnes said that position will be filled with the funding that was saved when he was promoted to county administrator, leaving a second deputy administrator position unfilled.
There’s a lot more in this budget and my story will have most of it. But Barnes said this budget meets the challenges of this economy and keeps services untouched.
One big issue to watch is what the state does with its budget. Currently, a proposal to cut state funding to constitutional officers could mean almost a $2 million loss for the sheriff, treasurer, commonwealth’s attorney, court clerk and commissioner of the revenue. Barnes said his budget will not include money to recover those cuts if the General Assembly passes those cuts. That $2 million means a loss of almost 35 positions in all of the departments.