March 19, 2014
Fluvanna county leaders talked taxes and school funding on Wednesday night.
The Fluvanna County Board of supervisors set an advertised rate of 88 cents, an 8.5 cent increase over last year.
"We knew this was going to be a difficult year, and we knew that we were going to go up on the tax rate, but we did it with a lot of care and consideration," said Mozell Booker, the board chair and supervisor representing Fork Union.
Booker said the board looked at core services, public safety, education, health and social services, fire and rescue and tried to take care of those needs. It also work to help local non-profits.
The board also heard the school board's budget request for next year. Fluvanna County Public Schools Superintendent Gena Keller presented the budget request, asking for about $1.678 million more than they received last year. $1.5 million of their request would be funded with an 88 cent tax rate.
The two people who spoke in public comment supported funding schools.
"The tax rate was lower last year so the schools did not get what they needed. And, as a result, they've been making difficult cuts. They've been eliminating teacher assistants, they've been eliminating curriculum and they haven't been adding anything that the school needs. Elementary foreign language is not in the program. Stem courses are not in the program," said Fluvanna County Resident and public school parent Bill Sullivan. "Hopefully, the board will make a decision to atleast put the schools on good footing, so that they can focus on moving forward as opposed to focusing on how do they get by."
After hearing the school board's budget request, the board set next year's advertised tax rate. Superintendent Keller said she was "very pleased."
"That's gonna put us on good footing. We've, like many school divisions, have suffered a lot of losses, loss in staff, loss in operational budget, et cetera. But I'm really, really pleased that we're headed in the right direction," said Keller.
"They have gone through some tough times with their budget, with the state not funding as much and then the county cut them really deeply," said Booker. "We needed to help them and push them forward. And I think that what we gave them this time should help them move a little bit and get back on their feet."
The county can make taxes lower than the advertised tax rate, but it cannot make them higher.
"[I'm] actually very encouraged by the dialogue and by the climate," said Keller. "It'll be for good for the schools and for lots of services. so, I'm excited about the future of Fluvanna."
If you'd like to let the board know what you think about the tax rate, the board will hold a public hearing on April 9.