Supervisors Hold Line on Taxes and Defend Fund Balance Allocations

Last week CCPS superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy presented a preliminary budget to the public and the School Board in which he outlined an 8.5 full-time-equivalent teaching staff reduction that he says will be necessary to cover a $519K budget shortfall. Murphy said that shouldering approximately $1.387 M in budget reductions since FY08 (July 1, 2007) the school system has reached a point where further reductions cannot be made without impacting the quality of education being received by CCPS students.

Yesterday the Clarke County Supervisors reaffirmed their commitment to holding taxes for the coming year at current rates by directing staff to ensure that any proposed budget require no increase in the real estate property tax rate above the current rate.

The taxation freeze comes amidst a nationwide economic downturn with national unemployment rates at 9% and Clarke County forecasting a Fiscal Year 2012 budget deficit of approximately $1.5M.

In a recent article CDN outlined the budget debate between the Clarke County Board of Supervisors and the Clarke County School Board regarding the Clarke County Public School budget. Some community members have pointed to Clarke County’s budget suggesting that net unrestricted asset fund balances, currently valued at $14.2M be tapped to make up the school budget deficit.

On Tuesday, CDN asked Supervisor John Staelin (Millwood) to explain Clarke County’s budgetary philosophy with regard its net unrestricted asset fund balances. During the discussion Staelin and several other supervisors said that they strongly supported the county’s fiscally conservative approach pointing out that the net unrestricted asset fund balances provide the county with protection from unexpected financial obligations while also ensuring that the county does not have to borrow money in order to meet its fiscal responsibilities.

Budgets, of course, are complex documents and are the result of hours of deliberations and stemming from years of policy decisions. Supervisor Staelin’s explanation of line item fund balances provides a general explanation of what lies behind the numbers. As public debate over how best to spend taxpayer funding continues, it is likely that further contextual explanations may be offered both for and against specific funding priorities.

While some citizens may think of Clarke County’s $14.2M net unrestricted asset fund balance as a single bank account that Clarke County’s Board of Supervisor’s can dip into to solve “rainy day” problems, the reality is more complex.

“’Unrestricted assets’ may not actually be the best name for the account” said Joint Administrative Services Director Tom Judge. “There are actually lots of obligations against the money.”

In our discussion with Supervisor Staelin, CDN attempted to breakdown the various accounts that comprise Clarke’s unrestricted assets so that readers can draw their own conclusions about how the money is being managed.

One fundamental principle that Staelin makes clear in his budgetary overview is that the budget’s unrestricted assets are finite balances, not on-going revenue streams. This means that money taken from the accounts is not automatically replenished, rather can only be replaced through contributions by taxpayer contributions. As such, the Supervisors are generally reluctant to fund on-going expenses, like raising an employee’s salary, from a fund account with a fixed amount.

Budget Adjustment and Designation Specifics:
Liquidity Designation @ 12%                                                                                           $2.9M

This percentage amount is recommended by Clarke County’s auditors, Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates of Charlottesville, Virginia, and is used to ensure that the county  has adequate operating funds on hand to meet short term obligations like  payrolls,  operating expenses, etc.

Stabilization Designation @ 3%                                                                                 $737K

This account is Clarke County’s “rainy day” fund and is used to absorb unexpected revenue changes often originating in Richmond. For example, in  2010  the Virginia Compensation Board unexpectedly reduced $75K in funding to  Clarke County the amount was absorbed by this fund.

Local Appropriation for Capital Projects                                                       $4.9M

This account holds funds that have been appropriated but not yet spent for a specific purpose. Generally, these funds are reserved to pay for the completion of multi-year projects. Over $3 million in amount comes from local funding that will be spent on Clarke County’s new high school. Because many school capital projects, including major repairs, are completed in the summer when students are not in school, the Supervisors budget the money for Fiscal Year One and allows the schools planning flexibility in using the money. Funds are often therefore actually spent in July or August at the start of Fiscal Year Two. The Supervisor carry over these construction funds year after year until the money is spent.  The capital projects carryover contains $3.6M for the new high school construction project and related school projects.

School Capital Debt                                                                                                                           $1.5M

This money has been set aside to pay for future school capital expenditures.  Initially, this fund was set up to hold contingency money that could be spent if some unforeseen item caused the Clarke County High School project to exceed its cost estimate. The Supervisors believe since the funds will probably not be needed for the new high school the money will be used to cover any additional funding required to complete the conversion of the old high school an elementary school or the refurbishment of Berryville Primary and DG Cooley. If these purposes do not exhaust the funds, the money will be used for some other school capital project like fixing a roof or parking lot, buying computers, etc.

Government Construction Debt                                                                                     $1M

This money has been set aside to pay for future general government capital projects. Clarke County maintains a ten-year capital plan that attempts to forecast the county’s long term capital spending needs, including items like improved communication equipment for Public Safety officials, replacement vehicles for the sheriff’s department, the construction of a senior center at the park, the replacement of the county swimming pool, new athletic fields, a new park office, the expansion of the maintenance facility, a recycling center and many other projects that are not easily bond funded and thus must be paid for with cash. Supervisors say that the cost of the known projects vastly exceeds the $1 million in funds currently available. The Supervisors try to add to this fund each year but also take money from it. The fund tends to rise and fall depending on the timing and size of projects. It will be reduced if the Clarke County Senior Center is built in the coming year and is the expected source of a good portion of the funds that the county will need if the $1.5 million budget deficit currently projected for Fiscal Year 2012 becomes a reality.

Property Acquisition                                                                                                                       $265K

Contingency fund to cover purchase of real estate, if necessary.

Conservation Easements                                                                                                         $153K

Funds appropriated for purchase of property development easements.

Community Facilities                                                                                                                       $325K

Funds used for project like the Barns of Rosehill

Comprehensive Services Act Shortfall                                                               $263K

A fund is used to balance radical changes that can occur in the local cost of services for high-risk  youth. The funds provide high quality, child centered, family focused, cost  effective, community-based services to high-risk youth and their families. The amount of funds spent in this area each year varies so this fund is added to in years when the cost of services is less than expected and reduced when the costs are higher than expected. As the cost for support of an individual child can exceed $250,000 this fund can be quickly erased if just one high cost child moves to the county after the budget has been set for the year.

Senior Center and Park Office                                                                                         $400K

Funding specifically designated for a new senior center and park office. The total cost for the new Senior Center is projected to exceed $1.5 million, of which the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging plans to contribute $500,000. Clarke County is still trying to determine where the additional funds for this project will come from.
Parks Master Plan                                                                                                                                   100K

Funding to support long term county park improvements.

School Operating Carryover                                                                                               $494K

Money returned to CCPS not spent in the previous fiscal year. The BOS has a written policy that states that  these funds will be returned to the schools the next year but are to be spent on one-time expenditures rather than ongoing operational expenditures.

Government Carryover from Savings                                                                   $397K

Money returned to various Clarke County departments not spent in the   previous
fiscal year. The BOS uses these funds first when it faces unexpected expenditures on the General Government side of the ledger.

Energy Efficiency                                                                                                                                   $200K

Funds dedicated for “green” energy solutions where procurement offers a  payback
on investment. Alison Teetor, Clarke County’s natural resource planner, is prioritizes “green” projects that carry an initial investment cost but provide significant savigs over a short payback period.

Landfill Costs                                                                                                                                               $50K

Funds allocated for a possible increase in Frederick County landfill usage  fee.

FY11 Original Budget Surplus                                                                                         $354K

Unappropriated Fiscal Y11 funds which are projected revenues in excess of originally budgeted expenses. Since setting the budget the Supervisors have had to appropriate $403,578 to cover Commonwealth cuts in funds and unexpected expenses.  The Supervisors say that once the approximately $4.9 million set aside to complete the capital projects that have been funded and started has been spent, the remaining funds will be used to cover the County’s expected $1.5 million Fiscal Year 2010 budget shortfall. Once the budget currently projected for Fiscal Year 2012 is expended the fund balance will be dramatically smaller. Theoretically, the balance will be decreased by the entire capital projects carryover, as well as the Fiscal Year 2012 deficit, during Fiscal Year 2012 and early Fiscal Year 2013.

As both Clarke County employees and taxpayers continue to struggle through unprecedented financial times one thing seems clear; Clarke County’s leadership has made a firm commitment to holding the line on spending and avoid borrowing to finance ongoing expenses like salaries and hiring.

“We’ve raised taxes every year for the last five years” said Supervisor Chairman Michael Hobert. “At some point you have to draw the line. We’re in the middle of the worst recession in our lifetimes. If you can’t hold the line on spending now, when can you do it?”

“We’re a fiscally conservative board and I’m proud of that” said Supervisor Staelin.

Comments

  1. Jeremy Carter says:

    “Staelin and several other supervisors said that they strongly supported the county’s fiscally conservative approach pointing out that the net unrestricted asset fund balances provide the county with protection from unexpected financial obligations while also ensuring that the county does not have to borrow money in order to meet its fiscal responsibilities.”

    Wow. Tell that to the 8.5 full time teaching staff that you just laid ‘Unexpected Financial Obligations’ upon by getting rid of their jobs!

  2. Its goes deeper than that! How putting some of the blame on the Town and County for not letting any business’s come here. You cannot keep operating like an antique and expect for all of this to work out…. Something has to give, because the boat is sinking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wake up Berryville/Clarke County!

    • clarkehaven says:

      unlike most local governments this “boat” is NOT sinking. If acting like an antique means living within our means and not going on tax & spend rampage then bless this “antique” county!

      • Nobody is advocating taxing and spending. Teachers deserve a pay raise, we need a proper High School, we need paid firefighters.

        The BOS and the Town Council approved all of the recent housing development years ago. Now that the State is cutting back funding, it’s up to the citizens and businesses in our county to pick up the budget slack via increased taxes, and the BOS refuses to do it. That’s ignorance on their part, but not surprising given the fact they aren’t impacted by the declining services that so DESPERATELY need to have their funding increased.

      • Just Curious.... says:

        Oh please! Do you get tired having to drive to Winchester for everything, or do you do all your shopping at our Dollar Stores?

        • Mimi Stein says:

          You live in a rural area — shopping is never going to be just around the corner. It is always going to require driving 10+ miles. I bet people did most of their shopping in Winchester 50 years ago as well. Then, consider how short the drive is to Winchester for a Clarke County resident than for someone living in Strasburg or Middletown. Consider the drives to retail outlets of rural residents in other areas. South Dakota, for example, where drives of 100 miles are not unheard of.

          • Fly on the wall says:

            Ummm…Strasburg is not the one-horse town you’re describing. There has been quite a lot of retail and commercial development there, as it sits at the junction of I66, Rt.11, and I81. Middletown folks have several options: Strasburg, Stephens City, Front Royal…at least, with Stephens City, it is still Frederick County.

            It is true that, no matter where you live in Clarke County, it is about the same driving distance to other towns (Stephenson, Charles Town, Purcellville, Stephens City, Winchester) as it is to Berryville. What is unfortunate is that there are no real options in Berryville to make folks rethink driving to those other towns, and thus spending tax revenue in those localities instead of here at home.

        • Actually, that’s the main reason I choose to live in Berryville, because it isn’t not totally overrun by crappy strip malls, wall to wall fast food joints and Walmarts. Not everyone wants to live in that kind of environment. I hope Berryville NEVER allows such business to stranglehold our community. Once you let one in, they all come for their piece of the pie. If you want constant ‘commodity’, move to Winchester.

          • Business doesn’t have to be IN Berryville. There are 3 major intersections in Clarke county that can handle some growth without ruining the small towns if those are so important. There has to be a better balanced tax base lest every tax burden be placed upon the residents to bear as it has and will continue. We certainly don’t have to become Loudoun or Frederick but right now, there is not enough in Clarke to even thrive at present levels. Convenience stores, dollar stores and gas stations aside, which we have plenty of. We need a alternate grocery store, a clothing/shoe store and a decent pharmacy at the least.

          • Jeremy Carter says:

            Thank you Bubba! I was about to post something of similar content.

            The folks that ‘want’ to keep CC the way it is….are the same folks that will moan and groan about their taxes going up…….

            There is no reason to think another grocery store, pharmacy, or even a McDonalds would cause a catastrophic collapse in the Clarke County ‘rural-ness’.

          • StoneBroke says:

            Exactly! Speaking of Strasburg,take a ride over there and look at everything that has been built on the outskirts of town….and that hasn’t changed one thing about their small rural downtown area. The same could be true about Berryville. I think it would be alot more attractive/meaningful than litter filled honesuckle plants.

          • I don’t understand why a ten minute drive is so taxing for you guys. If it’s all about tax revenue, you should think about what big business actually COSTS the residents – as opposed to generating revenue. A McDonalds, Walmart, decent pharmacy (really ANOTHER Walgreens?) would kill locally owned restaurants, shops and the pharmacy that we do have. Think about how difficult is it for Winchester to keep old town alive? Those shops turn around/closedown every couple months. In my opinion our focus should be on localized business.

            And I never moaned or groaned about taxes going up. I assume you’re talking about personal property and I rent, so .. exempt. I also don’t drive a brand new gas guzzling SUV so my car tax is pretty low as well. Like, eleven dollars. Your lifestyle determines your tax bracket. And you alone choose your lifestyle. If I owned a home, I would expect to pay as such..

          • We groan about another pharmacy because the only pharmacy in Berryville has limited hours. They ain’t gonna change them either.

            You think a McDonalds would kill any of the restaurants we have in Berryville? I disagree. We have a SUBWAY now, and Mario’s hasn’t gone under. Mario’s subs are better imho, but SUBWAY hasn’t closed up yet.

            The other grocery store in Berryville closed up years ago because they couldn’t compete with Food Lion. (I think it was an A&P affiliate, but I can’t remember)

            Waterloo would be a fine spot for a CVS/Walgreens/RiteAid, but I’d prefer Food Lion be allowed to expand their store to include a Florist and a Pharmacy. I think the florist in Berryville is awful. A pharmacy in the Food Lion would be more convenient for the older folks living within walking distance at the Hardesty house.

          • I would encourage competition or alternatives to our existing Berryville businesses, I’m just weary of WHO we let in.

            I never thought about Food Lion expanding, but that’s a good idea. Before the Food Lion on Pleasant Valley closed, their pharmacy offered competitive pricing – the hours were still a bit short though.

            As far as McDonalds go, I just think they are a total eyesore, and they stink. I don’t want to go for a walk downtown and smell McFry stench, is all. Goes for any fastfood, good riddance.

          • StoneBroke says:

            You wouldn’t put a McDonalds downtown! You would put it at the intersection of Rt. 7 and 340…the most logical location. (and it’s out of the way) Just ask the Tastee Freeze how their downtown location is working out. There is never anyone in that place!

          • StoneBroke says:

            Exactly Rightwinger. Pharmacy has hours that is convenient for them. Prices are too high! Florist charges whatever they want for a punie (sp) arrangement. Waterloo can do without..they are already the Mecca of Clarke County. (They already have more than Berryville). You people just don’t get it!

          • Fly on the wall says:

            Small niche shops are already having trouble surviving in this climate. The Pharmacy stays open because it is the only game in town; same for Food Lion. The garages are a necessity.

            The niche stores like JV Music, the hospice thrift store, etc. are the ones that struggle more. Radio Shack is there because Berryville Auto Parts carries it along; I’d wager that more business goes to the auto shop than “The Shack.” One McDonald’s ain’t the restaurant killer you depict it; I think the only victim might be the Tastee Freez.

            Valerie, what you fail to acknowledge is that our beloved downtown is not equipped, from an infrastructure standpoint, to provide ample parking that is convenient to stores that offer the goods that folks would regularly buy (new clothes & shoes, etc.). There are no empty storefronts downtown that afford the requisite features necessary to offer what customres need.

            The “Old Town Mall” in Winchester cannot be compared to downtown Berryville. For one, the city has built 4 parking garages within a 2 block step of the mall, so parking is much better. For two, the stores don’t “turn around/close down” every couple of months…certainly not with the frequency seen in Berryville. For three, look at the variety there: a dollar store, myriad restaurants, a NEW book store, a NEW clothing store (albeit an upscale one), two shoe stores, a dog supply store, two music stores, and so forth. It’s a draw because of the restaurants, to be sure, but also because many of the shops stay open in the evening, too.

          • I’m just saying, I don’t see the benefit – other than the initial business license revenue – to opening the big dawg flood gates. The nature of the beast is keeping up with the big dawgs once you let them in..and none of the small business we have now would be able to keep up..none of them.

            That being said, if Berryville turns into a fast food/pharmacy chain/two Walmart dump like our surrounding neighbors, I’ll just move. I would be sad, I moved here from Winchester thinking the residents had a refreshing small town ideal in mind for their community and I really love it here, but times change..and ideals are rarely ever the most lucrative.

          • StoneBroke says:

            I would probably say it is a safe bet that there is not enough revenue generated from Clarke County to attract any BIG box type stores. But I do think some type of food chain (Chic Fila) and a CVS would be great for the county!

          • Jeremy Carter says:

            “I don’t understand why a ten minute drive is so taxing for you guys.”

            Clearly, you miss all points. It’s not about what’s taxing to drive 10 minutes. It’s about what’s available to you right where you live. The ’10 minute’ drive is one that’s made out of necessity….not convenience.

            But hey…while you’re at it..and you don’t mind it…AND you don’t have a ‘gass guzzling SUV’….Live within your means and ride on up there to the ‘Chester. Nobody’s stoppin’ you. But..when that gas keeps on trickling up …and hits that $5 a gallon mark…..bet you change your tune then!

            Kudos to the other points made from RW…and Fly said….Couldn’t have said it better myself….

          • Is it about convenience or generating revenue for Clarke County?
            Because we can trade our town’s aesthetic for convenience but the result would be Berryville turning into a cookie cutter version of Winchester, or Stephens City..
            Wouldn’t it be more viable to have our own identity, and to offer what surrounding towns DON’T already have an abundance of?
            Isn’t it more responsible to cultivate our unique history, the small town feel, the uniqueness of our residents and use these things in our favor instead of trying to drown them out?
            You don’t have to be so angry, it’s a discussion not a battle. Place your bets on my tune changing as you wish, I work everyday in Winchester, so I’ll be making that commute no matter what.

          • Jeremy Carter says:

            Oh no ma’am…I’m not angry in the least. I apologize if you took my ‘tone’ as such.

            As for your question…you moved to Bville..for your reasons. I grew up and lived there my entire life (except for college and now). 25 years I lived there….To answer your question…it’s both. Tax revenue is good..to release burden off the citizens. But also convenience.

            Cultivating our own history is already there…we have history. It’s not going anywhere…whether there’s a Mickey D’s on the corner..or a CVS up the street.

            As far as the ‘small town feel’…I can agree..but only to a certain degree. My opinion…I’m stating…is that as a ‘town’…there is and should be a level of service that you should strive to have for your citizens. Bville does not have that …nor has it ever. (Up to what it should be)

            That really is the issue. It goes a little more than tax revenue and driving. Folks work in NOVA…they want to come home an be able to grab something to eat easily. There’s about 2 choices in Bville..as there always has been (I’m being sarcastic a little). It’s all about convenience in a nutshell. Something Berryville doesnt have, as stated about the hours of the pharmacy. It’s a perfect example. Who can get to pick up their medicine at 5pm…when that’s when the get off work in Leesburg…or Reston?? No one.

            So, I could go on and on…..I grew up there…lived there…and nothing has changed. Sometimes..things need to. That’s all I’m sayin’.

          • “You don’t have to be so angry, it’s a discussion not a battle.”

            Valerie, everything is a battle on here.

            I agree with you. There are plenty of places to choose from to live if you want box stores and “greasy-macs”. Stephens City is no place to wish to emulate, and anyone who finds the outer edge of Strausburg to be an example of a quality community development plan….Lets just say I hope Berryville never looks like that.

            Waterloo’s development (the gas, donuts combo, and I think the McDonald’s and sheets are on pump and haul. The infrastructure is not there for larger development unless we pay for it. If we were to build up the outskirts of Berryville we would have to build the infrastructure for that too. These things don’t just land from outerspace they cost money like most development.

          • ElinorDashwood says:

            Thank you, gentlemen (Bubba D and Jeremy). You are voices of reason in a sea of insanity. As I understand it, Clarke County’s border to the west is just behind Dinosaur Land and that acreage across from it has been for sale for ages. A good grocery store there would be good for those of us that don’t live in Berryville and would also draw people from Stephens City. Have you ever noticed the plethora of cars headed through our beloved county to destinations west? It seems what we need is not just for Clarke County residents to shop IN Clarke County but also people from elsewhere to spend their money here. The argument isn’t that folks are too lazy to drive the short distance to Winchester, its why line the pockets of all the surrounding counties when the resources are here and we are so obviously in need of money?

  3. Great explanation! Can you tell us why the debt, the capital, the conservation easements and some of the other items are all budgeted for each year with current year funds? I think we are witnessing a shell game from the Supervisors!

  4. Tony Parrott says:

    In these hard times I believe items like Property Acquisition, Conservation Easements, and Community Facilities (Barns of Rosehill) are a luxury.

    Stabilization Designation @ 3% $737K; is meant to absorb unexpected changes from the state? I believe the schools are also looking at a funding decrease from the state. Shouldn’t that be somewhat absorbed by this fund?

    Of course School Operating Carryover $494K seems like a “no brainer”.

    And through it all Supervisor Staelin is “Proud”. Maybe it’s because he didn’t mention that his board failed to make investments in the county infrastructure when times were good and revenues were up. At least that’s what he told me several years ago. If they had we wouldn’t have taken on so much debt in a recession.

    BTW how long do these accounts sit around holding our tax dollars anyway?

    • Travis Goodwin says:

      If you notice, for FY09 it was $14,001,757; for FY10, it increased $153,124 to $14,154,881. This fund has steadily gone up every year.

      • And that is what the supervisors intended-a slow and steady increase to fund capital expenditures with a 10 year plan. Look, I feel for the 8.6 who may loose their jobs, but it’s simple math. You loose 175 student devided by the average class size and it’s 8.6 on the nose. Enrollment is down, and VDOE has already projected further decreased enrollment for CCPS.

        It actually makes no sense that we ‘ve lost 10% of our students, yet gained 10% in Special Education Poplation. This is contrary to the national trend and division peers. In the previous budget article, CCPS gained only 1 Autistic child in 2010, yet finds it imperative to add another teacher for this one student (presuming all special education students are recieving their free and appropriate education). And while I have sympathy for the increased case load, CCPS is well below the national average and again, division peers in percentage of identified population. So, it sounds more like an identification problem, not a teacher shortage. Educate the staff you have!

        Sadly, if you want to gain more IT staff, you’ll need a RIF again. You can’t justify adding more staff with projected downward enrollment.

        Dr. Murphy has been a champion for trying to move the division forward in this area, but again, like last year, sports will win out over technology.

        I’ll echo RW’s previous posts…..if you don’t like your elected officials, boot’em out, but it seems to me the majority in the community support them.

        • On an additional note, quotes from the Superintendent that without any more money our children will not florish is irresponsible and creates a self-fufiling proficy.

          As a budgetary concern, I would very much like to know where the 7 privately educated Special Education students (out of 10-3 at NREP) are being educated? I suspect we’re paying Powhatan tuition through public funds. Does CDN care to FOIA on this?

          • Sunny, you need to go farther than Powhatan. Think…BOSTON! Unless the kid has since turned 21, Im not sure…

    • Barns of Rose Hill is not run by the town or county. They are a 501 c3 entity and have raised their funds through fundraising efforts and grants. With the opening of the Barns, this may help attract visitors to the area for events. The location will also have a Clarke County Visitor’s Center that will be another stopping point for people coming into the area.

      • livein22611 says:

        So are you saying the NO town or county money was or is being used for the Barns project? And what about fees to the town for the project? Were they paid or waived?

      • BlossomButt says:

        Stopping point for what? On their way to Winchester for decent shopping? On their way to Winchester for decent food? Please, to have a visitors center in this town is like having a feline advocate in a dog fight.

    • livein22611 says:

      Gee Tony–the accounts are sitting there waiting for a rainy day! Apparently a recession and deep,deep cuts from the state are not rainy days. Not really sure what would constitute dipping into this fund? Perhaps buying more land for conservation easements. Hmmmm… well, Thank Heavens it’s an election year. If education is not a priority with this BOS, then maybe it will be with the next one. And let’s not forget our public safety needs.

  5. Wine Taster says:

    The timing of this article is impeccable! The county citizens who live in the Shenandoah Farms area are facing a crisis. That crisis is the failure of Shenandoah Farms Volunteer Fire Department. We (Shenandoah Farms Citizens) are facing a possible absence of fire and emergency medical response. This is crisis in need of immediate county level action. Clarke County is going to have to do something. That something is not going to be free. Career firemen & paramedics are not cheap I’m sure. Its a good thing that these “slush” funds exist for emergencies like this! Good fiscal planning may very well save the county’s Shenandoah Farms citizens from having no fire and paramedic department. I’m glad the funds are there.

  6. “The Supervisors say that once the approximately $4.9 million set aside to complete the capital projects that have been funded and started has been spent, the remaining funds will be used to cover the County’s expected $1.5 million Fiscal Year 2010 budget shortfall.”

    Expected FY2010 $1.5 million shortfall? When was this canned response written?

    • Miss Informed says:

      FY2010 ends June 30, 2011. The County is still in FY2010, and are expected to end it in the red by $1.5 million. The County’s “Fiscal Year” (FY) is not the same as the calendar year, and runs from July 1 –> June 30. It is commonplace for corporate and Government offset their Fiscal years from the calendar year. Our Federal government’s fiscal year begins October 1, annually.

      • Travis Goodwin says:

        Correction – we are in FY11. The name comes from the calendar year in which the fiscal year ENDS. That is why you see FY09 and FY10 numbers in the chart above – both fiscal years have ended, and thus final dollar amounts in the various categories are known.

  7. Mimi Stein says:

    Rainy Day funds are typically saved for one-time, dramatic, and unforseen expenses — if the courthouse roof collapsed, for example, or the government center burned down. They are not really intended for on-going expenses so as to avoid lay-offs or tax increases.

    I feel for the 8.5 school FTE’s, just as I feel for all the area workers who lost their jobs when corporate executives from far away closed their plants down (American Woodmark, GE, the printing plant), and for all the workers at the Winchester Borders who are about to lose their jobs. These are horrible times. However, so long as Loudoun County continues to open new schools each year, those 8.5 FTE’s are likely to have no problems finding employment (better compensation, too).

    I would note that there is no direct correlation between education budgtes and school performance. If that were so, Washington, DC schools would be the highest performing schools in the region, which they clearly are not. Study after study has shown that the keys to student learning are small class sizes,parental involvement, and teachers educated in the fields they are teaching (that is, math teachers who have degrees in math, science teachers who have a degree in the science they are teaching, etc.).

    As I wrote in another posting, there are alternatives to the County hiring full-time F&R staff out of the General Fund. Although it would be a major paradigm change, the volunteer fire companies are corporations and can hire full-time staff themselves, paying for them out of contributions. Such an effort would certainly provide a significant argument for the VFD’s to use in their fund-raising efforts with the community.

    I do want to congragulate CDN for its outstanding effort to explain the budget to readers. I wish local media around the state would follow its lead. Very helpful.

  8. StoneBroke says:

    I’m glad everyone in Berryville is so grateful for whatever shops they have downtown? I don’t make it down there too often. If you have time, fill me in on what wonderful shopping venues are exactly downtown!

    • Jeremy Carter says:

      Well you see SB…there’s the Newstand….then there’s the pharmacy…and there’s a consignment shop….OH! an eyeglass shop maybe…..umm….Coiner’s Hardware store….the DG..can’t forget that…now the Family Dollar…Red Apple has fine products but it’s just a snack an shop………

      C’mon! Can’t you see it?????

      (as you can see…I’m living in the past….as a lot of folks still do, and don’t want anything ‘new’ coming in to ‘change’ that)

  9. My 2 Cents... says:

    Come on guys, don’t forget the wonderful Carpet Store! Then you have the used book store as well. I hope you never need a pair of shoes or a nice shirt, if so, you need to make that easy and non-problematic 10 minute drive! Isn’t that right Valerie?
    (Sarcasm off)……

    • Not everyone equates their quality of living with their retail shopping options.

      And exactly, if you need to go clothes shopping, drive ten minutes to one of Winchester’s lovely Walmarts – oh the excitement!

      Ever tried hitting up the consignment shop on Berryville’s mainstreet? Try spending your money where it will be used to benefit YOUR community. Yeah, I said it, buy second-hand! Not everything you purchase needs to be brand new and manufactured by eight year old girls in Indonesia.

      • Fly on the wall says:

        I think you need to recalibrate your TomTom, Valerie…10 minutes from Frog Town might get you to either Rt. 7 or Rt. 50…but certainly not to any store.

        • Exactly! It is at least a 30-35 minute ride (from frogtown) to any shopping. And yes, for the 25+ years Ive been in CC, I have made that drive.

      • My 2 Cents... says:

        WOW! I’m speechless……….

  10. StoneBroke says:

    It seems to me that a lot of the shops downtown are hobbies to the owners..because they surely can’t be in it for the money!

  11. livein22611 says:

    A couple more small businesses won’t be enough to bring in any tax revenue. 1% of sales tax comes back to the locality. If we want to keep our services up and the junky chains out then we are going to have to pay more in property tax. And make sure that those who get reduced rates for “farms” and such are really using the land that way and not just sticking the minimum amount of animal/ag. on it to get the lower rate. Everyone needs to pay their fair share.