For now, no tax increase for residents
It’s been a week since the Rappahannock Board of Supervisors adopted the county’s fiscal year 2020 budget and already Administrator Garrey Curry is looking down the road.
“It’s never not budget season,” he observed Tuesday.
The administrator described the just-ended FY20 budget process as “smooth overall,” resulting in a BOS-approved package totaling $26,129,281. Of course, not every department head got everything they’d hoped for, which would have added another half-million-dollars-plus to the final budget.
“There were requests for additional funding for salaries,” Curry said. “I have not talked with budget holders since the board adopted the budget, but I imagine they’re not pleased that the board didn’t provide [all] the funding they requested.
“Ultimately, the final approved budget was essentially the budget advertised at the public hearing, with three changes: One, an additional $50 thousand to the schools. Two, $70,000 within the fire services fund provided into the apparatus replacement line, which will be distributed evenly to the seven companies. Three, a slight change to our VML [Virginia Municipal League] insurance expenses . . . to what I was projecting. So that’s automobile, liability, all of that, which was a $2,000 increase.”
Yet even those unforeseen expenses, he pointed out, were covered by $29,000 in reserve funding never allocated and a more sizable reduction in regional jail expenditures.
The end result?
“Zero tax increase,” Curry said.
Which can’t last forever, particularly in Rappahannock County.
“To provide additional funding to the fire and rescue, we would need additional tax [and] that is an area that will have to be explored in the future as their capital needs are determined through the strategic plan,” Curry said.
“And then on the county side we know we have needs coming up for capital, and the planning is happening now. So hopefully we will be working on the space needs and facilities condition study and have output from that leading into next year’s budget process. We’ll learn then how we’re going to afford some of those projects.”
As for newly adopted FY20 budget, the administrator is pleased that Rappahannock County Public Schools were earmarked an extra $50,000, if not the requested $75,000. The schools, it turns out, are able to fill the gap internally, providing for a 4 percent salary increase for teachers and staff and the hiring of a full time social worker to counsel students.
“I haven’t talked to the schools since the budget was adopted,” Curry said. “I assume they’re pleased. . . . I strongly support [a social worker]. The problem is now finding the right person to put in that spot, and for that person to be available for children when they happen to have a need.”