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Proposed county budget down 6.7%

by Larry S. Chowning

The Middlesex County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2009-10 (FY10) budget on Tuesday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m. in the Historic Courthouse in Saluda.

The $17,868,474 proposal calls for a 6.71% decrease in funding when compared to the current FY09 budget.

The real estate (35 cents) and personal property ($3.50) tax rates remain the same in the budget. 

The budget also reflects a cut in school funding by 3.97%, which may force the schools to eliminate the French program at Middlesex High School, the home economics program at St. Clare Walker Middle School, and one of the school system’s two band positions. Also possibly on the chopping block is an administrator’s position in the central office.

At the start of the budget process, county administrator Charles Culley asked all department heads to attempt to reduce their budgets by 5%.  Most of the reductions in budget categories are more than the 5%.

General government administration funds decreased 9.18% from $1,450,226 to $1,317,053; public safety funds dropped 5.74% from $2,975,440 to $2,804,629; airport funds dropped 8.82% from $193,790 to $176,686; health and welfare funds dropped 5.15% from $1,862,521 to $1,766,686; and school funds dropped 5.84% from $7,153,484 to $6,735,850.

However, some budget items are up. Judicial administration costs are projected to go up 6.13%; public works up 2.10%; county debt service, up 9.75%; and school debt service, up 7.78%.

On the revenue side, the county is anticipating an overall 6.71% reduction in FY10 to what was budgeted in FY09.

The only areas of anticipated revenue increases are from the airport, up 6.09%, and state revenues, up 3.12%.

The proposed budget projects a 10.18% reduction in real estate tax revenues, and 54.11% less in permits and fees.

The reduction in building permits and other fees is due to the state of the national economy and the lack of new construction in the county. Due to the slowdown the Building Permits Department, an official was transferred out of that department to the maintenance department.

There also was a reduction of 7.65% in the police protection services agreement with the Town of Urbanna. The town pays the county for additional police protection.

Pinetop District supervisor Fred Crittenden said last week at a budget work session that he would not be in favor of spending any county money to give the citizens of the Town of Urbanna extra police protection.

Culley noted that town officials are working with Middlesex Sheriff Guy Abbott on the matter, and if the town or county dropped the police services agreement it would mean one less deputy on the sheriff’s police force.

The majority of the board seemed to agree with Crittenden that if Urbanna could not pay its own way for the extra police protection, the police services agreement would not be approved. 

Supervisors also were not in favor of Abbott subsidizing the town service out of the sheriff’s office budget.

posted 04.15.2009

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