County growth, need for services prompt FY2020-21 proposed budget of $76 million for New Kent
With the booming population comes a need for additional services in New Kent County. County Administrator Rodney Hathaway looked to address that issue in his proposed FY2020-21 budget Monday night.
Hathaway presented a budget of $76,079,426 for the upcoming cycle. By contrast, the FY2019-20 budget totaled $69,851,662. Of the proposed amount for the new fiscal year, New Kent County schools are slated to receive $36,625,592, just under 50 percent of the total budget.
The county administrator commented that most of the increase in the budget is an expected jump in revenue of approximately $4,159,717, part in thanks to a healthy economy. While the real estate tax will remain at 82 cents per $100 of assessed values for the year, the county underwent a reassessment this year. The result was an equalized rate of 76 cents per $100 of assessed value, meaning the current 82 cent rate is essentially a six-cent tax increase.
Hathaway talked about the rate remaining at 82 cents and the importance of it during an interview on Monday.
“As you know, New Kent is the second fastest growing locality in the Commonwealth of Virginia, right after Loundon County,” he commented. “In the last eight years, we have grown at roughly 25.2 percent.
“With growth comes the needs for more services,” Hathaway continued. “I believe keeping the tax rate at 82 cents will address many of those needs for our residents in the county.”
In the county administrator’s budget, he expects approximately $2.2 million will be garnered from real estate taxes, while $884,525 will be the result of personal property taxes. Additional funding will come via the SAFER grant that assist with the hiring of 12 firefighters ($555,408), as well as expected increases in the sales tax, business licenses, and meals tax.
Advance deposit wagering from offsite facilities that service Colonial Downs will result in a $300,000 decrease in revenue, but Hathaway said that’s actually a good thing in the county.
“By state code, we are only allowed to take up to $400,000 from these facilities,” he said. “This is a healthy sign that Colonial Downs is doing well, and we are expected to hit that $400,000 mark within the next month or two.”
Hathaway moved towards his proposal for allocating the roughly $4.15 million in new money. The big items listed focused on preparing for the construction of the new elementary school. The county administrator budgeted $1.745 million for the school’s operating contingency, along with an additional $300,000 to assist with hiring for school operations in FY2021. Another $737,000 will be placed in contingency for the schools to assist with construction costs, as well as $715,000 to pay interest in debt service. Hathaway, however, said that the total amounts will be reduced as $2,043,629 from the school set aside fun will be eliminated and designated to those lines, making the total amount of new money for the school project just under $1.5 million.
The county administrator’s presentation turned to the growth of the county and recommending more than 20 new positions for the county. Twelve firefighters ($704,652) and six new sheriff’s deputies ($359,905) were the top priorities on his recommendation list.
“As the county grow, the need for services continue to grow as well,” Hathaway said. “I believe that these positions will fill those needs and assist our emergency services as well as our sheriff’s department to ensure our county is safe.”
Other recommended positions made by the county administrator include the hiring of an assistant chief technology officer ($105,151), an additional assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney ($95,708), and a facility maintenance supervisor for parks and recreation due to the projected opening of Pine Fork Park ($45,524). Salary adjustments and raises make up the remainder of the personnel adjustments.
Other major revenue allocations include funds to assist with economic development ($273,580), an additional $200,000 to schools for existing operations, $200,000 to account for increasing health insurance rates, $152,596 for Virginia Retirement System (VRS) adjustments, and $100,500 for the confinement of inmates.
Hathaway also pegged a Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) of $3,559,819 for the future business year. Among top projects include the replacement of school buses ($630,000), county vehicles that include sheriff vehicles ($551,000), and a tanker replacement for New Kent’s Fire Department ($400,000).
The public utility fund, which is self-sustaining and paid by the users, will work with a budget of $5,789,361, which is a decrease from this year’s budget of $9,318,901. There are no increases in the water and sewer rate, along with no increase in the connection and availability fees. However, the Bottoms Bridge Service District Tax Rate will see its first ever reduction, dropping by two cents from 15 cents to 13 cents. The public utility’s CIP projects total $853,100, with the major proposed projects being considered include a backup generator for Parham Well number one and upgrades at The Colonies site.
As with most presentations on the proposed budget, county supervisors elected to reserve comments for their annual budget retreat which will take place on Friday, March 13, 9 a.m. at Providence Forge Recreation Center.
Hathaway added that there will be several Fire House chat community meetings about both the budget and other topics at each of the fire stations. The dates and locations are March 24 (8 a.m.-Fire Station #5), March 26 (6 p.m.-Fire Station #2), March 31 (8 a.m.-Fire Station #4), April 2 (8 a.m.-Fire Station #3), and April 7 (6 p.m.-Fire Station #1).
A public hearing on the proposed budget is tentatively scheduled for May 11, with final adoption of the FY2020-21 budget slated for May 27. A public hearing on the tax rate is expected to take place at the board’s April monthly meeting.