New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | March 24, 2017

Departments pitch for additional funding in New Kent’s proposed budget

By Andre Jones | February 22, 2017 12:41 pm

A number of departments involved in New Kent made one last pitch to county supervisors for additional funds in the upcoming budget cycle.

New Kent leaders received inquiries from Heritage Public Library, county schools, and fire emergency services during supervisors’ Feb. 22 work session.

After county administrator Rodney Hathaway provided a budget update to the board, a few departments received opportunity to speak in hopes of seeking additional funds. Among the entities was Heritage Public Library, which is seeking to work with an operational budget of $203,000, an increase of $39,000 from Hathaway’s proposal of $164,000 this year.

“With the library now having two floors, we have to add security equipment,” said Heritage Public Library director Barbara Winters. “We have paid $11,000 in running cables through the building, as well as being accountable for new expenses such as the water bill.”

Library representatives said the request for additional funds also covers an expected deficit that ranges close to $25,000 for the current cycle. But as supervisors listened, many were perplexed with the request.

“I look at these numbers and I just don’t get it,” said District 3 representative Patricia Paige. “When we first had the discussion about purchasing the old bank building to become the new home of the library, we were told that no additional funds would be needed. And now, we look at this budget and more funds are being asked for.”

Other supervisors agreed with Paige’s statement, referencing purchase of the Maidstone property at a price tag of $950,000. But Winters rebutted, imploring that annual funds given to the library aren’t enough to cover all the expenses.

“When we receive our budget from the supervisors, for example, we will be allocated $2,000 to spend on programs,” the library director said. “In reality, we spend $8,000 on these programs.

“We have been fortunate to receive donations to our campaign to cover some of our costs,” Winter continued. “But now we are at a point where we see the gap between the level-funding we receive from the county to what we need to operate grow.”

As supervisors took in the library’s request, local schools sought an additional $50,000 for their budget. While Hathaway’s budget proposed schools receive an additional $100,000, the request for money from superintendent of schools Dave Myers focused on providing employees an adequate raise and to increase the salary scale.

District 5 and board chairman Ray Davis commented about the increased compensation for school employees.

“I see that this raise is planned to go across the board, but how is your state funding looking for this year?” questioned the chairman.

“Well, the last week and a half hasn’t been promising with the new numbers,” responded Myers. “The proposed budgets floating in the general assembly have us losing between $2,000 and $52,000.”

Those numbers are the result of proposed legislation that targets schools with declining ADM (average daily membership).

“The general assembly doesn’t take into account that despite our school system’s growth, we spend a less on our pupils,” Myers concluded.

Supervisors discussed funding options for each of the proposals. Leaders agreed to recommend an additional $15,000 in money for the library and split the difference ($25,000) for schools. Those numbers will be placed in a revised budget that is slated to be published prior to public hearing.

As far as future budgets, Hathaway said that plans are already underway to work with fire/emergency services in FY2018-19.

Chief Rick Opett requested the purchase of vehicles for his aging fleet at the Feb. 16 budget retreat. Hathaway said that while no action was needed until July, a recommendation for assembly of at least one fully equipped truck will be made for FY2018-19. According to the county administrator, it would take approximately 300 days for the truck to be completed which would push the addition of a penny (if needed) on the county’s tax rate for next year. Hathaway expects that the additional one cent will not be needed for that purpose due to growth in the county.

In one final budgetary move, Hathaway announced that this year’s budget proposal now includes a 1.5 percent employee salary increase. Discussion about school personnel receiving raises led to the county administrator drawing up the proposal. Raises would cost $161,991 with $144,238 of that money tax supported. The additional $17,753 is a result of funding from public utilities. No tax increases are involved with the raises as the money will be taken out of the county’s general fund.

The $64.4 million budget for FY2017-18 will now make headway for a future public hearing.