County budget discussed

Published 10:51 am Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Members of the Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors discussed its fiscal year 2019 budget and heard budget requests from county officials and community organizations during a meeting Thursday. County officials who offered requests for increases of funds in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget included the Lunenburg County Commonwealth’s Attorney Office for an amount of $29,132 to staff a part-time prosecutor and Lunenburg County Public Schools for an amount of $212,230. Community organizations who requested additional funding included Madeline’s House with a request of approximately $7,500, Piedmont Senior Resources with a request of approximately $10,000 and Virginia Legal Aid Society also requested increases of $4,902. County Administrator Tracy Gee reviewed items on the proposed budget, including potentially moving $414,000-$415,000 of surplus from the reserves balance to the general fund and considering a tax increase for the next fiscal year.

“I would like to see a tax increase for fiscal year 19, but I do realize we’ve just recently collected some funding from our real estate reassessment, but I would really like to see a plan to move forward,” Gee said.

“Once again, our departments have been so frugal on their expenses, fortunately the last couple of years we haven’t had to dip into our reserves,” Gee said. “The schools are the same way. We’ve had to do the same thing. This year, they’ve ended on almost a zero dollar balance, or very close to their budget. So I’d really like to see us make a plan for the future, being the lowest tax rate in the state. We can still be the lowest tax rate in the state with a two cent increase.”

Beaver Creek District Supervisor Frank Bacon expressed concern about raising taxes after already having raised real estate taxes. He noted he was in favor of flat funding all organizations who were funded last year except for those with unusual circumstances.

“Have to agree with Bacon, especially on the real estate tax,” Brown’s Store District Supervisor Mike Hankins said. “It’s just not right to have two tax increases in six months time. I would not take it off of the table for next year.”

Hankins noted that the county is in a difficult position regarding its funds.

“You’re in a hard spot with the county,” Hankins said. “We have to maintain public services to draw businesses in, and we need to draw businesses in so we can create a broader tax base. We need more taxes to afford public services, so it’s a vicious cycle.”

“If we keep going like we are, somewhere down the line it’s going to catch up, eventually,” Love’s Mill District Supervisor Edward Pennington said regarding the decision to potentially raise taxes.

This article was corrected from its original version.