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Two percent raise eyed for Halifax workers; fee hike proposed

A 2 percent cost of living raise is in the works for Halifax County employees, while county households are looking at paying a $4 per month solid waste disposal fee to bring in an extra $500,000 needed to cover expenditures added to the proposed $87.7 million 2012-13 county budget Monday night.

The proposed $87.7 million budget represents a 4 percent decrease from the current year’s $90.9 million budget, County Administrator George Nester told the several dozen citizens attending the public hearing Monday evening.

Following a lengthy public hearing on the budget, supervisors reached a consensus not to raise real estate taxes higher than the equalized tax rate of 45 cents per $100 value.

Earlier they had discussed the possibility of raising the tax by two more cents to 47 cents, but Monday night most supervisors backed away from that revenue raising option.

Supervisors did, however, ask Finance Director Stephanie Jackson to add a total of just over $377,900 to five particular line items in the budget after listening to the speakers during the public hearing on the county and school budget.

These additional expenses included reinstatement of the agriculture and natural resources extension agent position for which the county funds one-third of the salary at a cost of $15,330 annually.

An additional $16,153 was added to the library line item bringing its total annual funding from the county to $175,000, $5,000 lower than the originally requested $180,000, and $26,000 was added to the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s budget raising the county’s proposed contribution from $24,000 to $50,000.

The other two increases involved $211,000 to cover the anticipated increase in the insurance premiums as the county plans to continue paying 90 percent of the employee-only premium for county workers, and $102,000 was added to cover the 2 percent cost of living raise proposed for county employees.

In order to pay for these line item increases, supervisors discussed raising building permit fees to bring in an additional $25,000 annually, centralizing purchasing within county departments for a savings of $15,000 and implementing the $4 per household solid waste disposal fee expected to bring in $500,000 annually.

The solid waste disposal fee is expected to be included on personal property bills similar to the decal fee, except only one annual fee of $48 will be charged per household, supervisors explained.

Solid waste disposal costs the county an estimated $1.2 million per year, the county administrator pointed out during the Monday evening work session.

With these changes, the supervisors may still have to dip into the use of fund (surplus) balance for $261,400 to balance the proposed budget, the finance director said.