New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | June 1, 2020

Recommended cuts made in updated Charles City budget for FY2020-21

By Andre Jones | May 14, 2020 3:41 pm

While it may seem that Charles City County’s proposed budget received a small boost of $13,000, the unknown factors of COVID-19 has resulted in several cuts and tabling of projects in the future years.

Charles City County Administrator Michelle Johnson presented a revised local budget of $16,479,874 at the May 13 updated work session.

Johnson commented that reductions in several areas, particularly the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), factored into the budget. With the ongoing pandemic affecting projected revenue for the next fiscal year, Johnson told county leaders that she erred on the side of caution when working on the revised budget.

Among the reductions made include the social services department receiving $53,000 less. Johnson is recommending that county departments receive level funding across the board. Under the county administrator’s recommendation, each county department will lose funding in some areas from the original proposal, such as performance-based salary increases that were previous recommended. The only recommended hires by Johnson were three firefighters and one communication officer for Charles City’s Sheriff’s Office.

The county’s original portion of the CIP that was more than $800,000 was reduced to $375,524. Projects that were removed from the CIP include repairs to HVAC, boilers, and frequency devices, replacement of windows at the Ruthville Gym, repairs to the county’s visitor center, additional purchases for the Charles City Parks and Recreation department, and upgrading the wastewater treatment plant at the Government and Administration Building.

Charles City Public Schools received an increase of $90,548 in the upcoming budget to bring them to level funding for the upcoming year. The school’s CIP remained at the original recommendation of $790,856.

The county’s tax rate will not increase in FY2020-21. The tax rate is expected to be 76 cents per $100 of assessed value.

After Johnson’s presentation, District 2 representative and board chairman Bill Coada commented on the projected revenue that is being brought in through Waste Management.

“I am looking at the figures and I think we are overestimating what they [Waste Management] will bring in next year,” said Coada when emphasizing his concerns over COVID-19. “I believe they will take a hit and it just hasn’t trickled down yet.”

Coada continued, referencing the $2 million shortfall in 2014 that forced the county to make cuts midway through the budgetary cycle. Johnson responded, saying that despite the pandemic affecting businesses, Waste Management continues to operate normally with their projected revenues. She added that her estimate of the business’ operations that contribute to county dollars was conservative as well.

Citizens will have an opportunity to comment on the budget during a virtual public hearing on Wednesday, May 20.