Trout amendments defeated as New Kent passes budget
New Kent Supervisor Stran Trout stepped to the plate three times with proposed amendments to the county’s fiscal 2011 budget and once for amending the county’s Capital Improvement Plan.
But he must have thought he was facing Stephen Strasburg 100 mile-per-hour fastballs. He went 0-for-4.
Board members then voted 4-1 during their June 14 meeting to adopt the county’s $50.2 million ($55 million when utilities are included) budget that goes into effect July 1. The budget features a 70-cent per $100 of assessed value real estate tax rate. Trout cast the lone dissenting vote.
“You have to do what you think is right,” Trout shrugged afterward, alluding to his failed amendment efforts.
The District 4 representative came closest to not striking out on his proposal to eliminate a measure that calls for closing three of the county’s four trash transfer stations one day a week on a rotating basis. Trout argued that savings amount to a mere $28,000, but he won support only from board chairman Marty Sparks. The amendment failed 3-2.
Trout, however, found no allies on a Capital Improvement Plan amendment to transfer $500,000 from FY 2012 to FY 2011 for accelerating renovation of the county’s “Historic School.” The site is to become home for the county School Board offices and Heritage Public Library.
Nor did he garner favor on adding $30,000 to the budget for establishing a brush recycling center in the county’s western end. And a last ditch bid to hasten Historic School renovation by adding $500,000 to next year’s budget and reducing the budget the following year by the same amount also received thumbs down.
Supervisors appeared in no mood to entertain Trout’s amendments. Only the capital plan change elicited lengthy discussion.
Trout said amending the plan would not add renovation expense to next year’s budget, but would serve as a gesture of good faith.
“Until the library and schools can raise funds, they need to know the county is behind them,” he said.
“I think they already know that,” District 1 board member Thomas Evelyn replied, adding there needs to be a better overall plan of action in place first.
Sparks said no game plan exists and adding money to the plan now would not make sense. The board can revisit the matter later, he added.
“I’d like to know what we’re doing before we appropriate money,” he said.
County Administrator Cabell Lawton said more information on a procedural plan could be in supervisors’ hands by next month.
The board, however, voted 5-0 to transfer $430,000 from the county capital improvement fund to pay for exterior repair work designed to stabilize two buildings at the Historic School.
Jim Tacosa, the county’s general services director, said during an earlier meeting that water damage has progressed to the point that portions of outer brick walls are in danger of collapse.
At last week’s meeting, he estimated cost for roof and wall repair at $205,000 for the original 1930s building. The other building, constructed in the 1950s, is in worse shape and requires $225,000 in work, he said. A request for bids is expected to go out early this month.
“This will get the shells stable so when the time comes to do interior renovations, there won’t be a need to do any work on the outside,” Tacosa told the board.
In another budget-related matter, supervisors voted 5-0 to amend the current year’s budget to pay off debt owed on a general obligation bond ($250,000) and 4-1 to retire debt on a bond for the county’s vehicle maintenance garage ($1.85 million). Trout cast the lone “no” vote on the latter, saying he is “opposed to paying off something at below market rate.”
Supervisors had a choice of retiring debt on the maintenance facility or the human services building ($2.7 million).
In motioning to pay off the vehicle maintenance facility, District 5 Supervisor Ray Davis said the $850,000 difference in debt owed on the respective buildings could be used for other projects.
Interest rates on the two buildings (3.98 percent for human services; 3.76 percent for vehicle maintenance) are nearly the same, Lawton said. But interest on the general obligation bond stands at just over 7 percent, he added.
Yearly savings to the county amount to $46,000 on the general obligation bond and $216,000 for the maintenance facility. Maximum savings over time, Lawton said, total close to $1 million.