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New spending requests in Halifax County draft budget add up to $1.4 million

SoVaNow.com / February 09, 2017
The Halifax County Board of Supervisors got a first peak Monday at the upcoming county budget, with members needing more than two hours to comb through a list of requests that would require $1.4 million to fully meet.

“If we granted all those increases, we’d have to raise taxes by more than three cents on real estate,” said J.T. Davis, chairman of the board’s budget and finance committee, raising both hands in frustration at the thought.

Other board members who attended the budget work session signaled their own reluctance to raise taxes to fund all of the requests.

The draft budget includes no salary hikes or premium increases for county employee health coverage. Officials are still awaiting word on whether higher premiums lie ahead with the Local Choice employee health plan. Officials are expecting premiums to rise.

The Halifax County School Board is seeking $1,237,014 in new money — the largest single line item increase in the proposed budget — to add on top of $13,762,077 in local funding budgeted in the current year.

The new 2017-18 budget is set to take effect July 1.

Other departments seeking additional funds include:

The Commissioner of the Revenue, which has requested $67,000 to pay for a new full-time employee, provide mailing money to send out personal property tax notices, and purchase new computers for the office.

The Blue Ridge Regional Jail is asking for an additional $150,000 to fund its operations

The Ag Development Department is seeking $55,000 to boost business development, purchase fans for the ag center and strengthen the marketing of county farm goods and services.

The Southside Community Services Board has asked for an additional $57,000 to bring Halifax County into compliance with state matching fund requirements.

Left out of the budget, for now, is $61,400 that would be needed to give full-time county employees a one percent raise.

Driving the School Board’s request for new money is a host of proposed capital improvements at Halifax County High School. The trustees have asked supervisors for $555,247 to pay for a pipe replacement for the pond dam spillway, as well as a kitchen fire suppression hood and replacement of the front entrance doors. Money is also being sought to renovate five restrooms to make them ADA-compliant, resurface the high school tennis courts and replace exterior panels. The School Board also has asked for funding to clean HVAC ductwork at the high school, and replace elevator door operators.

County Administration Jim Halasz sought guidance from supervisors on how to balance the spending requests with available county resources, and asked members to think about if they may want to raise additional revenue with tax increases on real estate or personal property taxes. He also said the Board must decide if it wants to develop a strategy for gradually increasing school funding.

Supervisors indicated that they need more time to look through the budget. Their next opportunities to discuss the package will come during finance committee meetings that are set on Feb. 15 and March 6.

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Comments

I usually don't post comments. But Halifax CO. residents we need to tell the BOS that we won't stand for any tax increases! What is the average income of most local residents? Yet they want to give Hazlet a raise? I knew when the new board members were elected that we were in for a period of tax increases. We need to tell the BOS to tell all agencies to cut by at least 10%. Schools should only be funded at the level required by state law until all the dead weight is removed.

Comments

I agree with John. Halasz position is already $130K a year, Matt Leonard's salary $125k a year. These are admin positions and it's hard to justify an increase. Herndon's salary was quite large when the teachers are doing the bulk of the work. There are now private services where you can contract out a lot of the admin generated work for far less money. The easiest answer for BOS is no on most of these requests.

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