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3-cent tax increase may be needed for school budget

by Larry Chowning

Middlesex County School superintendent Dr. Thomas Taylor presented a proposed $14,411,205 school budget at a public hearing Monday at which two adults from the public attended and neither commented.

The 2014-15 (FY15) proposal calls for a 4.84% increase over last year’s budget, and $664,655 in additional local funding.

“None of our wants or needs are met by this budget. All we are doing is taking care of mandates and correcting mistakes made by the General Assembly.”
—Dr. Thomas Taylor

If approved by the school board and county supervisors, the increase would probably necessitate about a 3-cent tax hike on the county’s real estate tax rate (48 cents per $100 of value). It is estimated that each penny on the tax rate generates about $225,000 in revenue.

Dr. Taylor said what makes matters worse is that the FY15 proposal has “no wants met,” meaning no funds for additional items the school system would like to have. “The budget increases are mostly to meet state and federal mandates,” he said.

The average Virginia public school system receives $5,900 annually in state aid for each student in the school system. Middlesex County receives $3,000 annually in state aid for each student, and has to fund the rest through local revenues.

The reason Middlesex gets less funds per student is that the county has a high “wealth index,” referred to as the State Composite Index (SCI). The new SCI chart has Middlesex ranked 13th in wealth in Virginia. Middlesex’s highly-valued waterfront property is one of the main factors in determining that wealth.

Middlesex’s new SCI status will result in the loss of $65,384 in FY15 state funds.

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 02.26.2014

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