Budget hearing is Thursday

Published 1:57 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A public hearing for Lunenburg County’s proposed operating budget for fiscal year (FY) 2017-18 is set to take place Thursday, June 1 at 6 p.m.

During the meeting, which will be held at the general district courtroom in the Lunenburg Courts Building, the Lunenburg Board of Supervisors will receive public input on its proposed budget — one that includes $250,384 in additional money for public schools despite a nearly $795,000 request in additional funding over what was allocated for the current fiscal year budget.

The additional money would allow school staff to be given a two-percent raise without increasing taxes, according to District One Supervisor T. Wayne Hoover.

An original request of $794,785 was made by school officials to cover state-mandated costs and provide a two-percent raise for staff who did not receive an annual raise last year, among other costs, including new staff positions.

No tax or fee increases are included in the proposed budget.

The proposed budget includes revenue changes in its real estate tax collections, which would increase by $10,000.

Also set to increase would be personal property tax collections by $15,000 and public service tax collections by $45,000.

Expense changes include an upgrade the county’s telephone services and switching to a new health care provider, Local Choice.

In a statement, County Administrator Tracy Gee said she and the board of supervisors worked to balance the budget, considering all requests and taxpayers.

“The board of supervisors appoints the finance committee and county administrator to prepare a county budget that represents the best interests of the revenue collected from taxpayers and other sources,” Gee said. “They carefully consider all requests for funding and seek to balance the budget with the least impact possible on the taxpayers, while providing the funds necessary to deliver services and support the functions of government, especially public safety and education.”

Gee encouraged county residents to offer input during the hearing.

“Our meetings are open to the public and the board appreciates citizen interest,” Gee said.

Following county supervisors’ voting to advertise the proposed budget for public hearing, Division Superintendent Charles Berkley said the school board’s proposed budget “was based on ‘needs only’ and the county failed to provide and fulfill sufficient funding to keep our school system operating. We are doing the best we can to manage our current budget without impacting classrooms and academics.”

Berkley noted that larger enrollments for area schools, particularly of special-needs students and increasing state mandates for retirement and health insurance, have increased costs for the school division.