Revised New Kent proposed budget of $75.2 million comes with 79-cent tax rate
With a recommended reduction in the proposed tax rate along with a projected decrease in revenue, New Kent County Administrator Rodney Hathaway presented a revised budget for FY2020-21 during Monday night’s budget hearing.
The new proposed budget put forward by Hathaway totals $75,269,474 for the upcoming year. That projection includes a real estate tax rate of 79 cents per $100 of assessed value, down from 82 cents in the county’s initial budget. Despite the three-cent drop, the 79-cent rate is still essentially a three-cent tax increase as the county’s equalized rate is 76 cents per $100 of assessed value.
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to affect the current economy, Hathaway pegged a reduction in the collection rate of taxes. With an expected two-percent drop, the county administrator expects the budget to take a $738,327 hit.
Despite the new overall figure being roughly $800,000 fewer than the original projected budget of $76 million, additional recommendations had to be made to keep the proposed budget neutral. Among the proposed cuts made by Hathaway include eliminating three proposed positions from the sheriff’s office (originally six) at a total cost of $189,133, delay the hiring of an assistant chief technical officer until Jan. 1, 2021 ($57,857), reductions in county departments ($67,615), providing schools with level funding for the upcoming year (the schools were originally slated to receive an additional $200,000), eliminating the hiring of a part-time safety coordinator and the hiring of a part-time permit technician.
“We essentially had to go back to the drawing board for this budget,” Hathaway said. “We had to make significant cuts to our original proposals.”
Other cuts include eliminating cost-of-living raises for employees and promotions that included a salary increase.
The public utility fund’s budget increased slightly to $5,806,413. The self-sustaining fund includes no increase to the water and sewer rate, no increase in the connection and availability fees, and a reduction in the Bottoms Bridge Service District Tax Rate by two cents (from 15 cents to 13 cents).
During the public comment period, Hathaway read three comments submitted by email from county citizens, with many asking the board to make decisions to strengthen the county and help citizens as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
New Kent’s Board of Supervisors are expected to act on the budget at its May 27 work session.
In another item on the agenda, New Kent’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) is repurposing $50,000 of its appropriated budget to provide loans to local businesses.
The EDA is establishing a loan recovery program to assist with businesses that did not receive funds from the state or federal government despite funds being allocated for those purposes. According to New Kent EDA representative Matthew Starr, the program will allow a small business to apply for a loan up to $5,000 maximum. The loan would have to be repaid for within two years and an application must be completed by contacting the county’s EDA or New Kent Director of Economic Development Matthew Smolnik.