County’s FY20 budget process approaches finish line

Schools, Electoral Board make final push for salary hikes, social worker position

At one of its few remaining budget meetings Monday night, the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors reviewed current department requests in excess of the county’s advertised proposed FY20 budget, in doing so taking no final action.

And like the April 22 public hearing on the budget held at the elementary school, those in support of a 4 percent pay raise for county teachers and staff, as well as the hiring of a full-time school social worker, came out in force to the courthouse meeting Monday.

Piedmont District School Board Member Rachel Bynum counted “18 people standing in support of restoring the $75,000” to the schools’ budget request, which would allow for both the salary increase and social worker position, “and 0 standing against.”

“There doesn’t appear to be consensus on the Board that the full $75,000 should be restored to the School Budget,” Bynum warned her constituents following Monday’s session. “I know that many of you have reached out to Supervisors publicly and privately, and the message of support for the schools couldn’t have come across stronger than at the hearing last week.

“However, the possibility of raising taxes or taking some money from the General Fund — currently over $2 million — is making some, including [Piedmont Supervisor Christine] Smith hesitant to act,” Bynum suggested, encouraging supporters to speak out again during the public comment period of next Monday’s monthly meeting of the BOS, also at the courthouse.

While budget adoption would have been permitted by the Code of Virginia seven days after the April 22 public hearing, it was never contemplated at Monday night’s meeting, given there remains so much for the supervisors to hammer out.

As such, necessary adoption resolutions weren’t even drawn up for Monday’s meeting.

That said, there now could either be adoption or consideration of adoption of the new FY20 budget — schools and county — next Monday, although that still isn’t the absolute deadline for passage.

“I will be preparing a budget adoption resolution for consideration by the Board at their regular meeting scheduled for May 6,” county Administrator Garrey W. Curry told the News on Tuesday. “The Board instructed me to prepare the resolution to align with the budget advertised for public hearing with the intention to revise it at the meeting prior to adoption as necessary to incorporate some/none/or all of the requested increases.

“If the Board does not adopt the budget on May 6, they have another meeting scheduled for May 13, at which point they must adopt at least the School Board budget to beat the May 15 state deadline requirement,” he said. “The Board is scheduled to adopt the tax rate resolution at their regular June 3 meeting.”

Primary budget items under discussion at the most recent BOS work sessions include from the Fire Services Fund: a $100,000 request from county Fire & Rescue for apparatus replacement ($84,818 currently available in emergency grants and contingency budget lines); and from the General Fund: the Library Board ($3,282, 5 percent raise instead of 3 percent raise); School Superintendent ($75,000, 4 percent raise instead of 3 percent raise with the additional request for a full-time social worker); County ($43,538, 4 percent raise instead of 3 percent raise); and last but not least the county Electoral Board’s request for $35,769 (increased salary supplement for Registrar and Assistant Registrar).

Regarding the latter, the county’s Board of Electors at the two most recent hearings alluded to “arbitrary and discriminatory disparity in salaries” among the county’s department heads, urging that the Registrar of Voters, Kimberly P. McKiernan, be acknowledged as a “Department Head” and receive compensation for such duties.

“This is essentially a matter of basic fairness,” the Electoral Board writes in its FY20 compensation request to the BOS, providing a list of two dozen supervisory and managerial duties accomplished by McKiernan — from Director of Elections to Campaign Finance Officer to Customer Service Agent.

The Registrar’s annual salary in FY19 was $62,237, and the administrator’s proposed FY20 budget raises it to $65,971. The Electoral Board has requested a salary hike to $84,384.

About John McCaslin 449 Articles
John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at editor@rappnews.com.

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