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Halifax County pay hikes funded in budget; school pay unclear / March 07, 2019

Halifax County employees are looking at up to a 5 percent pay increase under a draft budget presented to county supervisors on Monday night.

The outlook for school employees is much murkier.

To prepare for the budget process, supervisors agreed to advertise 2019-2020 tax rates for an upcoming public hearing in April. The only change to existing county tax rates is a proposal to raise the real estate levy from 48 cents to 50 cents per $100 in tax value.

Under state law, the Halifax County Board of Supervisors can only lower, not raise, the tax rate once it goes to public hearing, unless members agreed to readvertise a higher rate. At Monday’s meeting, supervisors took pains to note that while they are tentatively setting the new rate at 50 cents, “we’re just leaving ourselves some wiggle room if we need it,” said Chairman Dennis Witt, ED-4.

With Halifax facing a need to replace its emergency radio system, expand the South Boston Fire Department, and do something about low salaries for county employees and members of the Sheriff’s Office, supervisors have not settled on a final budget for the new fiscal year which begins July 1, Witt added.

The budget plan provides a 5 percent pay increase for county employees making less than $35,000 annually, a 4 percent for those making more.

However, the package also leaves the School Board without funding to provide similar raises for its employees without major cuts elsewhere in the education budget. The biennial state budget approved by the General Assembly provides funding for a 5 percent teacher pay increase, but the overall sum of money expected to flow from the state to Halifax County Public Schools is only $100,000 higher than in the current fiscal year, due to declines in basic state aid tied to falling student enrollment. The county’s contribution to the school operating budget actually is set to drop, by $425,077.

The School Board budgeted for $61.6 million; the supervisors’ draft budget proposes $58.7 million.

Other highlights of the budget include:

» $200,000 for expanding wireless broadband in the Halifax County countryside,

» $225,000 for a new solid waste collection center, $225,000 for a trash collection front loader truck and $165,000 for a roll-off truck,

» $100,000 for volunteer fire departments,

» $150,000 for expansion of the South Boston Fire Department building,

» funds for a Sheriff’s Office special response team and a small number of replacement vehicles,

» $10,000 for a firefighter thermal imaging drone,

» a $35,000 floor for the county animal shelter,

» money for part-time salaries to hire a person in the Commissioner of Revenue office to oversee the county’s proposed land use tax incentives,

» $15,000 for replacement bleachers at the Mary Bethune gym,

» $250,000 for the Industrial Development Authority,

» $328,409 in new money for the 911 Dispatch Center to make payments on a new radio communications system,

» a $10,000 increase in the local contribution to the Southside Community Services Board.

The draft budget projects overall spending of $94,857,173 for fiscal year 2019-2020.

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all of those add on's could be put off. I say cut the 94 mill budget by 10% that would save 9.4 million. Sorry I am in a VFD we don't need a 100k sobo fd does not need a bigger building at this time. What the heck does the sheriff's office need a "special response team" all this bs is the crap that someone went and got a degree and said we need, but we don't need. I am sick of public officials wasting out tax money!!!!

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