Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Money, money, money

Money was definitely the main topic of tonight’s Board of Supervisors meeting. First, School Board members and supervisors heard about the annual audit of finances. Auditor Nancy Miller praised the county’s budget but warned that tough times are ahead, especially as stimulus funds will end in the next fiscal year.

Most stimulus funds were supposed to be one-time only expenses so their loss wouldn’t be such a problem, Miller said.

“The reality is that a lot of that was used for budget stabilization,” she said.

Localities, facing large budget gaps, filled the holes with stimulus money.

The one recommendation suggested the county hire an internal auditor. She knew it was a tough time to suggest a new hire.

“But an internal audit position can in fact pay for itself in increased efficiency,” Miller said.

And then it was time for the county’s finance department to present the preliminary budget predictions.

They warned that the years of recession have had a financial impact on the county. Many services have been cut temporarily, but in the upcoming budget, cuts will have to be of more permanent services, said Bonnie Jewell, financial analyst.

She predicted a gap between expenses and revenue, about $9 million worth. And that gap will continue to grow over the next five years, she said.

A public hearing followed and the eight people who spoke all asked the county to keep taxes the same, or even lower them.

Steve Thomas, head of the Spotsylvania Republican party, said that the very conditions which are hurting the county’s budget are exactly the reasons to keep taxes level.

“Things aren’t really all that great economically here,” he said.

He asked for tax cuts and suggested they would help the local economy attract business.

After the hearing, State Senator Edd Houck spoke about Virginia’s upcoming budget, warning more cuts were likely and that those cuts will impact the county.

In non-money news, the meeting also featured a presentation on the upcoming redistricting. The census numbers are expected in late February, and the county will most likely need to redraw district lines. The county currently has seven voting districts. County spokeswoman said the county wanted to be transparent about the process and to get community input as much as possible. To that end, she will post tonight’s PowerPoint presentation on the county’s website. Look for it by Monday.

And definitely look at tomorrow’s paper for the story about the meeting.