Be realistic in budget work

Published 10:06 am Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The fact of the matter is that school board members in Lunenburg County are asking county supervisors for nearly $795,000 in additional funding for the approaching fiscal year (FY) 2017-18 school operating budget.

“We presented a very open budget that was very transparent to the board of supervisors and the public that was there,” Lunenburg County Division Superintendent Charles Berkley said recently regarding the school board’s request. “The board asked us to be sure a year ago to be very transparent with budget situations, and we opened it up and told them the bare bones minimum that we needed to continue to operate the school system in an efficient manner.”

We commend the school board, along with Berkley, for being transparent in their processes and practices, especially those that pertain to taxpayer’s dollars and other funding.

Another fact regarding this funding request is that, barring further cuts or funding reductions on the school or county’s end, county supervisors would have to raise taxes to fulfill the school’s request.

Under the assumption that one penny of real estate tax brings in roughly $85,000, an additional 9 cents on the levy would bring in about $765,000. A 9.5-cent increase could bring in roughly $807,500.

The current real estate tax rate in Lunenburg is low at .38 cents per $100 of assessed value. Add 9 cents to .38 cents and you get a .47-cent tax rate. Add 9.5 cents to 38 and you get a tax rate of .475-cent tax levy.

Many in Lunenburg think any increase of any tax rate would be outrageous. To even more, an increase of upwards of 7, 8 or 9 cents on the real estate tax levy would be absurd.

Board of Supervisors’ Chairman Charles Slayton told The Dispatch an increase of almost $795,000 is not reachable, especially with other community organizations asking for increases in funding. “There’s no way we can fund (that),” he said after the meeting. “You can’t raise taxes but so much.”

What we’re saying through these facts and figures is that school board members must be realistic in what they’re asking for and what they may or may not receive from the county, and county supervisors must be realistic in how much tax burden those who own land, including farms, can shoulder.