No New Tax Increases Visible as County Budget Inches Toward Completion

The Board of Supervisors budget met again yesterday in order to look for spending savings in the preliminary county budget. With the Fiscal Year 2012 projected budget at $37.963M Supervisors are using a fine toothed comb looking for ways to balance the $1.5M revenue deficit currently forecast in the spending numbers.  The consensus from last night’s discussion was that departmental operating budgets are already very lean and that the revenue-expenditure gap will have to focus on big-ticket projects in order to be erased.

As the budget committee, comprised of Supervisors Michael Hobert (Berryville) and John Staelin (Millwood), Joint Administrative Services Director Tom Judge and County Administrator David Ash, took up its work last night, Tom Judge reported that new information gained over the last week indicated $86K in new expenses that the county will be saddled with in 2012.

Judge told the other members of the committee that the Frederick County Sanitary Authority had raised Clarke County’s participation fees from $750 per month up to $2000 per month in the coming year. Landfill costs were also forecast to increase by $22K while contributions by the Compensation Review Board are $49K lower than expected.

The $49K in compensation reductions from the Commonwealth apply to budgets administered by the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Clarke County Sheriff, Commissioner of Revenue, Treasurer, Registrar and Clerk of the Circuit Court.

Upon hearing that cost estimates were increasing rather than decreasing, the committee turned its attentions to combing through the existing budget yet again in hopes of squeezing out additional savings but with little success.

The budget committee reviewed a number of expenditures where costs had increased over the previous year including Clarke County Park Administration, Virginia Commission for the Arts, Clarke County Planning Administration and bio-solids application. After a thorough discussion of the circumstances surrounding each case the committee opted to leave the budgets at current levels. However, the committee did decide to table a $5.6K request for a new voting machine to assist handicapped voters until more information can be obtained about the need for the device.

After finding little fat in existing programs attention turned to reducing or possibly eliminating larger projects including the proposed Clarke County Senior Center and renovation of the Clarke County Parks and Recreation offices.

The county budget currently projects the Senior Center budget cost to be $975K and the Park Office renovation cost at $598K. After review of existing funding sources for the two capital projects the combined budget deficit is $414K, with $224K contributed by the Senior Center and $189K in unaccounted funding for the park Office.

The budget committee said that one option might be to build the Senior Center while delaying the Park Office renovation.

By the end of the budget review session there appeared to be agreement among the committee members to recommend moving $913K from Clarke County’s existing fund balance and contributing $208K from appropriated funds.   Although the $1.121M contribution will still leave a projected $379K deficit, the committee seemed comfortable that the smaller deficit could be erased through normal budget cycle fluxuations in the coming year.

Although the budget committee is working to make its final recommendations to the Board of Supervisors at least two potentially significant budget items remain outstanding; The Clarke County School Board holds a public hearing tonight on its budget which is due for submission to the Supervisors by next week. However, the precise CCPS budget is dependent on education funding legislation currently being debated in Virginia’s legislature.

Comments

  1. Interested bysitter says:

    So…by not adjusting the tax rates, the Supervisors aren’t even gonna keep the budget “revenue neutral”? So…tax revenues will actually decline, and they don’t want to tap the undesignated fund balance to help the schools or invest in critically needed technology upgrades (hardware AND software), but they can pony up some $900K for the senior center? Wow…

    • Concerned says:

      Our seniors need to be taken care of….period… The Senior Center enables many of our senior citizens to stay in their homes for longer periods of times in many ways. Not only do they provide fantastic meals for them; they also allow them to spend time with their peers and have knowledgable people spend time with them to ensure they are in good health. Not only is it moral and kind; it is also saving us thousands in tax dollars by allow seniors to live independently longer. When push comes to shove the seniors have been paying tax dollars for our children to be educated for years, tge least tgey deserve is to have their center built. Kudos to the volunteers and to the Presbyterian church for keeping this program going. In a word, let’s respect our elders.

      • Interested bysitter says:

        I’m not saying that the seniors aren’t worth the investment. What I find odd is that – when the supervisors are willing to tell the schools to do more with less, and unwilling to tap into the “undesignated fund balance” to fix the pitiful computer infrastructure in both the schools and the county offices (and the financial software and other software that run on said platform – the supervisors are perfectly fine to dip into that balance to cough up more than what was set aside for the center.

        It just, to me, further highlights how this county has so many needs and obligations, yet relies on an antiquated or restrictive funding setup to meet these current, very real needs.

  2. “Frederick County Sanitary Authority had raised Clarke County’s participation fees from $750 per month up to $2000 per month in the coming year” AND STILL WE HAVE NO FACILITY IN EASTERN CLARKE OR BERRYVILLE TO HAUL OUR TRASH TO! At least Frederick county knows how to generate money.

    • My 2 Cents... says:

      Sure they do! They know that people of Clarke County have no choice than to go Frederick County or Winchester for their every need! What an embarrassment, keep up the great work guys…….

      • Stonebroke says:

        [redacted] if no one in Clarke County wants to build anything on the land—we might as well find some land to where we could at least dump our trash to save a little money for the County.