‘A very hard pill to swallow’

Published 8:46 am Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors discussed its upcoming fiscal year (FY) 2017-18 operating budget on Thursday — which ended in a consensus to allows the county’s finance committee to have until the May 11 meeting before voting to advertise an official proposed tax rate and budget.

The fiscal year begins July 1.

The discussion follows a nearly $795,000 request for increased funding from Lunenburg County Public Schools (LCPS).

“A $795,000 request is going to be a very hard pill to swallow,” Lunenburg County Administrator Tracy Gee said during the meeting.

Gee said that if the request was agreed to as requested, it would mean the board would need to implement a 9-cent tax increase, which she said would be around a 30-percent tax increase.

Plymouth District One Supervisor T. Wayne Hoover said the county’s finance committee was still looking for ways to fund the increase.

“Our goal in the finance committee is to try to help the schools,” said Hoover. “Realistically, I don’t think we can do $795,000 with a 9-cent tax increase.”

“You won’t find a bigger advocate for local schools — I have two children in local schools but we have to be responsible about it,” Gee said. “That’s the hard part about it.”

Gee said the board can’t say “we’ll give this money” because it wouldn’t be a one-time thing, it would be something that would repeat.

Love’s Mill District Five Supervisor Edward W. Pennington cited teacher salary increases being among one of the top concerns of the school budget.

“I’m willing to give them 2-percent raises beginning in January which is what the state (is recommending),” Pennington said.

Hoover said the board was set to give raises to the school division last year until the state pulled back their funding.

“To make a clarification, it wasn’t the county, it wasn’t the school — it was the state,” Hoover said. “Once the state pulled back, we didn’t give the county raises because we didn’t want to be in the same position that school is.”

Hoover cited the division’s position of having to decide who to give raises to.

“If we can’t give all (of their request), then I think we allocate what we can give to award the number one resource, which is (LCPS) personnel,” Hoover said.

Tracy Gee