New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | April 14, 2024

Three-cent tax increase for emergency services part of Charles City’s $22.4 million proposed budget

By Andre Jones | March 26, 2024 10:10 pm

Charles City County leaders received their first look at the proposed FY2024-25 budget presented by County Administrator Michelle Johnson Tuesday night. And while there isn’t much change to the overall figure from the current fiscal year, a possible three-cent tax increase to support emergency services is on the table.

Johnson proposed a budget of $22,434,369 to supervisors for operations in the upcoming fiscal year. The figure is slightly higher than the current year’s $21.2 million budget based on projections from increases to real property (13 percent), real and personal public service corporation (13 percent), and rental property (15 percent).

The County Administrator recommended a three-cent tax increase to 69 cents per $100 of assessed value. With each penny accounting for $105,630, the increase would generate $316,890 in additional funds for the county. Johnson said that all funds from the tax increase would be dedicated to public safety, with the money purposed to hire three new firefighters, two new deputies, and purchase one sheriff vehicle.

“Last year, we received 4,698 calls for service in the county,” Johnson said. “The state police was called 151 times to assist us.

“We are also having to deal with mandates coming down from the state,” she added, mentioning the requirement for firefighters and emergency medical technicians (EMT) to have Advanced Life Services (ALS) available. “Even recently, the sheriff was making an arrest at one scene had to respond to a murder in the county, and he was the only one on scene. That’s a dangerous situation.”

Of the proposed budget, approximately $11,418,855 would be designated to go towards the general fund. The county administrator is recommending level funding in several other areas including for the public school system ($6,502,485), social services ($472,853), CVTA ($660,000), and utilities ($327,000). The school board had requested $7.3 million for operations in the upcoming cycle. Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) for both the county and school total $692,182.

Johnson commented that with a new board of supervisors and the uncertainty of funding from Waste Management due to a pending contract, she wanted to have a cautious budget.

“We know Waste Management provides a majority of the funding for our county, and that depends on their negotiations,” Johnson said, mentioning how the company’s contract is up with Richmond in December. “I erred on the side of caution because we don’t want a repeat with Waste Management like we had [in 2014].”

Johnson referenced the 2014 incident where Waste Management and the county got into a legal battle over funding. The result saw more than a $1.5 million in cuts made during the year, with Charles City suing Waste Management for breach of contract. The issue was resolved, with the county receiving $1.2 million.

“I don’t want that to happen again,” Johnson said. “This is a modest budget, and I am proposing a flatline budget for this year, other than the tax increase to support emergency workers if the board chooses to go that way.”

District 3 and board chairman Byron Adkins Sr. provided a few comments on the issue.

“We know the importance of emergency services in this county and the need for them,” Adkins commented. “We know that a lot of things were asked for in this budget.

“When we look at this budget, we have to ask the things that are valued the most and I do know that we need fire and EMS,” the chairman continued. “However, it is up to the citizens to come out and voice what they feel as this is just the beginning of this process.”

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Tuesday, Apr. 16, 6 p.m., with a work session scheduled for Tuesday, Apr. 2, 3 p.m.