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Supes Slated To Adopt $89M Budget Tonight

Setting the tax rate and adopting the FY 2011 county budget tops the agenda for the Halifax County Board of Supervisors when they meet tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the conference room at the Mary Bethune Office Complex in Halifax. Supervisors have been deliberating on the proposed $89,971,290 budget all this month promising no tax hikes for county citizens.

In addition to no tax increase, the proposed budget also calls for no raises for county employees and no funding for capital projects.

Prepared by Finance Director Stephanie Jackson, the $89.97 million budget represents a 2 percent decrease from the current budget of $91,569,098.

Supervisors advertised the real estate tax rate at 43 cents per $100 assessed value, machinery and tools tax rate at $1.26 and personal property tax rate at $3.60.

In order to balance the budget, supervisors are looking at tapping the $7 million unrestricted funds budget for approximately $910,510.

All outside agencies were budgeted at a 5 percent decrease from the current year, and all constitutional officers were able to absorb some, if not all, of their compensation board reductions, according to County Administrator George Nester.

Individual county departments that saw their state funding reduced were asked to absorb all of those cuts within their budgets, and most of the county departments’ operational budgets came in less than last year, he said.

The Virginia Retirement Contribution rate and the group life insurance rates were increased from the current fiscal year, the county administrator explained, with all departments’ personnel line items reflecting these increases.

Implementing the county’s new Ag/Forest Districts also is decreasing tax revenues by an estimated $80,000 in this year’s budget.

The proposed budget includes level-funding of $13,256,000 for Halifax County Public Schools, the same amount that the county allocated for schools in the current year’s budget, although schools are expected see a decrease of about $3.3 million in state funding during the coming year.

When discussing the school budget, supervisors acknowledged that funding for the school system has the most significant impact on the budget representing approximately 66 percent of total expenses.

The county is required by the Department of Education to fund the school system a minimum of $9,748,707; however, supervisors have agreed to provide level funding from the current school budget which totals $13,256,000.

In an effort to offset the state cut to schools, last month supervisors approved a measure that allows the school system to carry over any unspent funds from this year’s budget, thereby giving them more flexibility in paying their bills.

Other highlights of the draft budget include:

• The county administration budget increased from the current budget of $240,372 to $254,727 due to the addition of a copier and telecommunications costs.

• The assessment budget reduced from $200,626 to $172,168 because 2011 will not be a reassessment year, so there is decreased printing costs and Board of Equalization expenses.

• Central accounting’s budget increased from $408,531 to $412,508 due to a software maintenance contract increase.

• The registrar’s budget increased from $92,153 to $114,422 due to redistricting.

• The circuit court judge’s budget rose from $33,922 to $38,803 due to a new full-time administrative assistant position that replaced previous part-time labor.
• Forestry services’ budget increased from $25,000 to $31,200 due to new regulations.

• Corrections’ budget increased from $2,081,430 to $2,126,292 due to projected usage of correctional facilities.

• Building Inspections’ budget increased from $241,028 to $246,664 due to new code being released and new reference materials and training that will be required.

• Emergency services’ budget increased from $86,197 to $95,523 due to the emergency services coordinator position being filled.

• Building and grounds’ budget increased from $1,059,330 to $1,102,250 due to additional properties the county purchased and the respective utilities and maintenance they will require.

• Planning and zoning saw an increase in its budget from $155,314 to $157,040 due to agricultural and forestal district implementation and the advertising and notification requirements.

• The county IDA has requested an additional $90,000 from the board to support prospect development/vistation, and professional services such as engineering and legal counsel that are expected to increase.

This year, supervisors are not recommending any salary increases for county personnel or the agencies funded. However, they are recommending a flat monthly insurance contribution of $432 per month towards the employee Anthem coverage.

No public hearing is scheduled tonight, but the meeting is open to the public.

The supervisors next meeting is set for Monday, April 5.