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Halifax County supervisors eye $87 million budget for new year
SoVaNow.com / March 07, 2013The Halifax County Board of Supervisors will advertise a new budget of $87 million, a one percent drop in spending from the current fiscal year.
“This is a balanced budget,” said County Administrator James Halasz as he presented the draft package to supervisors on Monday. The proposed budget raises local revenue by $636,850 through a smattering of fee increases, cuts existing expenditures by $275,000, and avoids further withdrawals from county budget reserves.
The bump in local revenue would come from higher fees for business licenses, motor vehicle licenses and animal licenses. The proposal calls for Halifax County to adopt the maximum fee structure allowed by state code. The fee for dog tags would go from $5 to $10; motor vehicle and RV motor home fees would rise from $25 to $40.75; and motorcycle fees would jump from $5 to $28.75.
The higher motor vehicle license fees would bring in an estimated $437,000 in new revenue. The new animal license fees would bring in another $30,850 and another $1,500 would be generated by the animal shelter fees.
Halasz noted that Halifax County would face a $5.2 million budget shortfall if supervisors accepted all budget requests by local departments and agencies and did nothing to raise existing revenues. Such a deficit would have required a 14.5 cent hike in the real estate tax to close, he said.
The county administrator said he based his projections on the county’s current tax rate of 45 cents per $100 on real estate. Supervisors indicated they will leave that rate in place; also unchanged will be the personal property tax rate of $3.60 per hundred and $1.26 on machinery and tools.
He recommended eliminating all discretionary funding in the budget, including money for the Institute of Government, Roanoke River Rails to Trails, the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce and Virginia’s Retreat.
The county schools — which account for roughly 70 percent of the total local budget — would receive an additional $360,000 under Halasz’s proposal. That amount is about $600,000 less than the School Board sought. The total local contribution to the schools would rise to $13,266,029.
Director of Finance Stephanie Jackson noted Monday that the Board of Supervisors has no control over how school trustees decide to use county funds. “That has to be their decision,” Jackson said, noting that Halifax County will earmark $1,966,900 more for education than the state requires as a minimum. The county also pays some $5 million in debt service for the schools.
Also among his recommendations, the county administrator suggested replacing three vehicles at the Sheriff’s Department rather the ten, as requested, and purchasing ten in-car cameras for the department. He also recommended that telephone and radio systems at the E911 communications center be replaced, but did not recommend the five percent pay increase for the center’s employees as requested.
Halasz further recommended that the position of Litter Control Director, earlier held by Jenny Hochstein, not be funded.
The Library Board had requested $192,000, but the recommendation was for level funding of $175,000. Southside Community Service Board requested $142,065 and it was recommended to receive level funding of $67,450.
No contributions were recommended for the South Boston-Halifax County Museum which had requested $14,000 while The Prizery requested $75,000, but was recommended to receive no county funds. Also the $60,000 loan to the Prizery made earlier by the county will not be forgiven as requested.
Also the Longwood Small Business Center had asked for $10,738, but was recommended for no funding. The request of $120,817 for the Tourism Center was cut to a recommended $106,120, and the requested $3,262 for RC&D was not recommended.
Earlier budgets, Halasz pointed out, were balanced by using fund balances. “This is not a recommended practice and is not supported by staff. State law or good budget practices require a balanced budget using current operating revenues.” He pointed out that the recommended budget allocates funding to critical needs in high priority services and moves Halifax County toward a budget with less structural imbalance.
CoV prohibits local governments from charging more for a vehicle tax/ license than the Commonwealth charges for license on that same vehicle.
Effective 10 Jan 2013 our solons in Richmond have jacked up vehicle registration fees to cover Guvnah Bob's transportation initiative. The state now charges you $40.75 a year for license on your vehicle under 4000 lb gross weight. http://www.dmv.state.va.us/webdoc/pdf/dmv201.pdf.
So natcherly our friendly local spendthrifts see a way to make more money by matching county vehicle tax/license fees to the state's- coincidentally, $40.75!
Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. But I guess the PTB in Halifax never stop to consider that some residents do keep up with what the County can legally do and what it can't.
- By powerhouse on 03 / 07 / 13
CommentsI am with you powerhouse, but I would rather have a $15 increase then property tax go up. AT least this will get the people that rent etc. I would rather see more cuts, but the dear leaders don't see it that way. The school board just has to suck it up though!
- By allpolitical2 on 03 / 07 / 13
Comments"The proposal calls for ... the maximum fee structure allowed by state code."
Good thing we at least have those limits in place or no telling what local governments would try to pull in the name of raising cash.
Let's look at these proposed increases as percentages.
"..dog tags would go from $5 to $10" 100% increase
"..motor vehicle and RV motor home fees would rise from $25 to $40.75"
"..motorcycle fees would jump from $5 to $28.75" 575% increase (!)
They're hitting farm vehicle and National Guardsmen on car license(177%), as well as vending machine routes (500%) and business license holders (166%).
Add in cuts to insurance reimbursement to volunteer fire/rescue units and an almost complete dismantling of quality-of-life funding and it appears life in this large rural county may regress 40 years.
Halasz and Jackson have thankless jobs but again, just because you can doesn't mean you should.
- By powerhouse on 03 / 08 / 13
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