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Public Weighs in on Proposed Albemarle County Budget

February 24, 2014

On Monday, the public had a chance to tell the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors what they think of the proposed budget for next fiscal year.

Last Friday, county executive Tom Foley presented to the board the recommended budget of about $349 million.

That figure is balanced with a proposed tax rate hike of 1.7 cents for every $100 of assessed value, which would bring the rate from 76.6 cents to 78.3 cents.

One-point-three cents of that tax rate increase would be dedicated to meeting required mandates for water resource protection and the school system -- something Foley says the county has no control over.

The state used to pick up the tab for those mandates, but now local governments have to foot the bill.

"The economy has gotten better, but it hasn't kept pace with the demands, obligations and mandates that we see in this budget," said Foley.

Foley says the proposed budget is a step in the right direction, but it still leaves several challenges for the county.

For example, county schools would still face a nearly $6 million budget shortfall.

"We cut back with the recession, but now that the economy is recovering, I think we need to look at ways to increase revenue, and I frankly think we should be raising the taxes well more than the 1.7 cents," said county resident Laura Steenburgh.

Steenburgh, like many of the speakers at the public hearing, was there to encourage the board to fully fund the school board's requested budget of about $164 million.

"As we continue to sell and celebrate nationally-recognized schools -- not just state but nationally-recognized schools -- we have to be able to support those schools to continue to move forward," Western Albemarle High School teacher Adam Mulcahy told the board.

But others feel that shouldn't be at the expense of all tax payers.

"I ask you to make cuts to the county budget and school funding," said resident Robert Hogue. "Some of us receive very little in return for our taxes we pay. Again, I ask you not to raise the tax rate."

His sentiment was echoed by Charlotte Hogue.

"Please look at all budget items very carefully," she told the board. "Do not raise the rate."

The board of supervisors is scheduled to adopt a budget and tax rate on April 15.

They will hold additional public hearings on the budget before taking action.

Key Dates in Budget Timeline

February 24 - Public Hearing on County Executive's Recommended Budget

February 26 - Board Work Session - General Overview and Capital Improvement Plan

February 28 - Board Work Session - General Government

March 3 - Board Work Session - Schools, Board Sets 2014 Tax Rate for Advertisement

March 12 - Board Work Session if Necessary

April 8 - Public Hearing on Board of Supervisors FY 15 Proposed Budget and 2014 Tax Rate

April 15 - Board Adopts FY 15 Budget and Sets 2014 Tax Rate

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