New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | March 20, 2023

New Kent’s proposed FY2023-24 budget tops $100 million mark

By Andre Jones | March 14, 2023 2:10 am

There are a few things that often come in triple digits; lottery numbers, the heat index, and now, New Kent County proposed operating budget for FY2023-24.

New Kent County Administrator Rodney Hathaway presented a budget of $107,868,017 at Monday night’s regular meeting of New Kent County’s Board of Supervisors. By contrast, the current fiscal year budget is $90,544,175, marking nearly a $17.3 million increase in the proposal.

Similar to previous years, the growth of New Kent factored into the uptick in the triple digit figure for the new cycle. Hathaway commented that most of this year’s budget is to address capital needs of the county.

“We built a backlog as we deferred projects,” he commented. “I feel that these are true needs, and I am attempting to address them in the budget.”

Along with the growth will be a proposal for a two-cent tax rate to 69 cents per $100 of assessed value on the county’s real estate tax. The current rate is 67 cents per $100 of assessed value, with each penny the equivalent of $410,755. Hathaway added that even with the proposed increase, New Kent remains the third lowest in the Richmond Region.

New Kent County Schools are slated to receive $47,375,167 in the upcoming year. That amount is what was requested by New Kent superintendent of schools Brian Nichols at the school board’s Mar. 7 regular meeting. However, Hathaway also recommended granting an additional $600,000 in funding for the schools to address additional expenditure needs, whereas the schools are requesting $2 million.

The county’s general fund is expected to increase by $12,913,542 to a grand total of $68,791,490. Most of the revenue increase is the result of more than $10 million from Colonial Downs, $1.745 million in real estate taxes, and $465,000 in sales tax.

“These are indicators that we have a strong economy in New Kent,” Hathaway said.

Of the new $12.9 million, $10,071,308 is listed to address capital improvement projects (CIP). In total with other funding, the CIP total comes in at $16,645,570. The top project on the list is the construction of Fire Station 6 at the cost of $7,029,000. That fire station is planned to be constructed in the Bottoms Bridge area of the county.

“We have seen a great increase in the number of calls in that area and I believe that is where this station is needed the most,” the county administrator commented.

Other top CIP items include lighting at Pine Fork Park ($1.17 million), a new fire apparatus ($900,000), a refresh of the Harris Radio emergency system ($750,000), nine sheriff’s vehicles ($704,424), five school buses ($685,285), and replacement of an ambulance ($600,000).

Approximately $1,983,800 has been tabled for personnel action for the county. Among adjustments include a full-time employee for the new county attorney ($232,502), funding a school resource officer at Quinton Elementary ($80,363), a new courthouse deputy ($67,521), addressing the compression scale for New Kent Sheriff’s Office ($60,840), and a new legal assistant for the county attorney’s office ($84,193).

New positions that plan to be created include the hiring of two patrol deputies, two firefighters, and a new grounds/maintenance technician that will assist with maintaining the upkeep of Makemie Woods. Several adjustments will assist current employees as funding will also be distributed to address cost-of-living increase ($316,660), continuing a salary study ($303,511), an expected increase in overtime pay ($190,111), and constitutional officers receiving a seven-percent cost of living adjustment ($62,189) due to action conducted by the General Assembly. The Social Services department will also receive a cost of living adjustment ($97,629) because of legislature in the General Assembly, with the county kicking in $36,568 for other permanent employees to address their cost of living.

The public utility fund, which is self-sustaining and paid by the users, will operate on a budget of $12,397,749. That amount is an increase of $3,356,230 from the current year’s budget of $9,642,940.

The water and sewer rate will see no change, but one of the biggest changes will be the dissolving of the Bottoms Bridge Service District Tax Rate. The rate had dropped for three consecutive years and was at five cents this year. Under Hathaway’s proposal, the tax will be eliminated.

Among new changes include increasing the tax on reclaimed water from 82 cents to 89 cents per 1,000 gallons, a fee of $1,750 to install an irrigation meter, and having a cost of $250 at the minimum for both a plan review fee and a instruction fee. Finally, the major project on the CIP for the public utility fund will be a pump grinder for Talleysville at the cost of $1.5 million.

As in previous years, many supervisors withheld comments about the proposed budget, but District 1 Supervisor Thomas Evelyn referenced the hard work of staff and how county leaders will do their due diligence to spend the taxpayer’s money in a way that benefits the county.

County leaders will hold a retreat on Friday, Mar. 24, 9 a.m., which is expected to take place at the New Kent Forestry Center in Providence Forge. A public hearing on the budget is set for the Apr. 10 regular meeting, with adoption expected to take place at the Apr. 25 work session.