“Proactive” was the word of the day as three Board of Supervisors and county administration looked at a way to make the new budget more palatable. The Botetourt County budget committee met again on the morning of April 9, 2012. The good news is the county has cut so much that expenditures are no more than the 2012 budget. However, the cuts necessary will reduce services. The rate increases include an 8 cents per hundred hike in personal property taxes and and a 7 cent per hundred real estate tax increase.
Chairman Steve Clinton has called the budget situation a “New World.” From that, Botetourt will have to get used to services being scaled back. He made the motion to accept the budget to be sent on for public hearing. Final figures are still being crunched.
The Public Hearing on the FY13 budget will take place on Wednesday, April 18, at Lord Botetourt High School. “The Advertized Budget will be available at the County Financial Office on Wednesday,” said Tony Zerrilla.
Due to the rate increase in the state mandate of the Virginia Retirement System, (VRS) both the county and the school division took huge hits that have resulted in cost cutting to pay the rate and salary increases. Botetourt, like many other counties, has cut yearly as cost sharing from the state has sent payment home for many services.
Here is more detail of the not so palatable, but revenue generating news. There are two tax rate increases in the FY 13 budget. The Personal Property tax is going up 8 cents. The real estate tax is going up 7 cents on a hundred. Every 1 penny per hundred in real estate tax brings in approximately $350,000. So the total for the increase is approximately 2.45 million in additional revenue. The personal property tax generates far less. The increase is actually needed for FY 13, but under new county administrator Kathleen Guzi, the county is taking a proactive approach to FY 14 as well. “We are looking out two years and being proactive,” she stated. “The increase is a response to the economy as well as the state cost sharing,” said Terry Austin, Buchanan Supervisor. Slow growth in revenue and cost sharing by the state has caused the tax increase. He said, ” We don’t have anyone standing at the gate waiting to come in to do business.”
The budget cuts hit every department. Here’s some of what was saved in the budget.
The bookmobile is still on the road, half of the library books and subscriptions are still there in totaling $40, 000 instead of $75,000. Most of the children’s summer reading program remains. Funding for Standing Room Only, Attic Productions and the Botetourt County Historical Society Museum remain. Funding for the Sports Complex summer schedule remains as does tourism funding and the senior van program. Level funding for volunteer EMS with perhaps a modest 3 per cent increase remained.
Cuts included Botetourt Resource Center, League of Older Americans and many more non profits. The Sheriff’s Department remains with open positions in Dispatch and a Road Deputy that are being deferred. An increase in fees for participation in Recreation sports to $15 per child per sport will bring in $42,000 in revenue.
At the end, Guzi stressed that being proactive in the current economy and the state environment were a necessity to look at two years in the plan. Thus the larger increase in tax rates should hopefully last through two years.