The original item was published from March 20, 2023 6:30 PM to March 20, 2023 7:05 PM
Budget Process Always Leads to Differing Thoughts & Opinions
The process in reaching a consensus on a budget always lends itself to differing thoughts and opinions by those who could be the recipients of the funds.
The FY ’24 Budget proposal presented to the Board of Supervisors on March 13 is no different as early discussions unfold.
Developing, presenting, and ultimately managing the annual Budget are major responsibilities of the County Administrator. A good budget will show a spending plan that has considered a number of key components with an eye on progress that includes additional opportunities and services for the taxpayers who fund it.
This year’s Budget was crafted with the following in mind:
- Outcome of an assessment of real property that had not been completed in eight years.
- Implementation of the Comprehensive Plan that was completed in 2022.
- Emphasis on core quality of life issues such as education and public safety.
- Capital planning to address lack of recreation areas for children and adults, particularly those who participate in youth soccer and football and use the public library facilities.
- Making annual debt payments on borrowing of funds that were needed for education, general government, and public utilities.
- Funding internal government operations that lead to more efficient customer service, and also includes cost of living allowances and merit-based pay.
Through a legislative compromise back in 2014, King William County Government uses a Split-Levy model to fund its General Government and the King William County School Division. The model also includes a methodology to fund the Town of West Point, which also operates its own School Division. Together funds are collected from all five districts and distributed according to the legislative compromise.
The Budget presented to the Board of Supervisors is just under $70 million. The heart of the Budget is the General Fund, which is $32,607,382.
The largest expenditure is the funding of the King William School Division, which will receive 35 percent of the General Fund in the FY ’24 Budget, $538,000 more than in the FY ’23 Budget.
In recent years, the Board of Supervisors has provided General Fund transfers in the amounts of $9.2 million in FY ’19 to $11.1 million proposed in FY ’24. Only once in FY ’21 was the amount less than the previous year.
Approval of projects by the Board of Supervisors over the years has left the School Division with the highest level of debt within all of County Government, $24 million. The Board of Supervisors also makes this annual payment, which for FY ’24 is $1.7 million.
Fortunately, through the Split-Levy funding, the School Division has been able to accumulate a healthy reserve of $3.9 million, which can be used for shortfalls or special projects as approved by the Board of Supervisors.
The FY ’24 Budget makes further investments in both the Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Fire & EMS. These investments include both operations and capital. Additionally, funding is provided for Volunteer Fire & EMS agencies and maintenance of a new County radio system.
A capital plan of $12 million is proposed for the possible construction of a new library and expanded recreation facilities.
Funding is also included in the FY ’24 Budget to continue the County’s partnerships with VPPSA for trash disposal; Social Services; the Health Department; regional correction centers for adults and youth; juvenile services; and the regional animal shelter.
Strengthening government operations always leads to investment in employees. The FY ’24 Budget calls for a five percent salary increase for employees through a combination of Cost of Living and Merit. These funds are 100 percent paid by County taxpayers. Other raises for education and Constitutional Officers are paid in large part by the State and the Compensation Board.
The reassessment of real property brought an average increase of 44 percent in values. The Board of Supervisors kept a promise to taxpayers to reduce the tax rate to within one percent of total values. This brings the proposed rate to 0.58 from 0.835, which is near the bottom of comparable localities in the region.
The overall Budget stretches widely to assist all areas of government. As stated earlier, the amount of funding always tests the satisfaction of those who are included in the fund distribution. Priorities have to be set for citizens of all ages and in all communities of the County.
The public hearing on the overall Budget is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, March 27. The public hearing on all tax rates including the real estate rate is 7 p.m. on Monday, April 24. Citizens can speak during the public hearing in-person or via Zoom or can submit a written comment online. Visit the County website for more information. You can also download the proposed budget and the presentation made at the March 13 meeting from the News Flash section of the County website.
The Board of Supervisors will continue discussions on the Budget and will possibly adopt it at its May 8 meeting.
Historic Garden Week Rapidly Approaching
According to the good reporting of Danny Clark in The Country Courier, Historic Garden Week is rapidly approaching. The Garden Club of the Middle Peninsula (GCMP) will host the Club’s tour in King William County on Friday, April 21 with four private homes and two historic churches opening their doors for a Day of Celebrations, History, Conservation, and Faith.
- Cherry Grove - 4381 Manfield Road.
- Chestnut Grove Farm - 2308 Manfield Road.
- Hollyfield Manor - 289 Hollyfield Lane.
- Strykefyre - 648 Pampatike Road
- McKendree United Methodist Church - 4347 Manfield Road
- Rock Spring Baptist Church - 4134 Manfield Road
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit vagardenweek.org.
Unemployment Rate Stable at 2.4 Percent
One thing is for sure, King William County residents like to work.
The unemployment rate for January continued at 2.4 percent, showing that all but about 200 eligible workers have jobs in King William County. This is a productive statistic to show the vitality of the County and its stability in other areas such as median household income.
Recent statistics do show that anywhere between 70 and 80 percent of the workforce travels to other destinations for their employment. Outside of West Rock, Nestle Purina, and local government (General & Schools), there are not as many opportunities as many would hope. But an uptick in restaurant and retail jobs in the County have been able to keep more people within the borders than before.