By Aila Boyd

The Botetourt County Board of Supervisors held a meeting last Wednesday at the Greenfield Education and Training Center in which a budget overview was presented followed by a public hearing on the proposed tax rates for 2019.

The county’s finance director, Tony Zerilla, presented the public and members of the Board of Supervisors with the budget overview.

Members of the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors are pictured during the public hearing last Wednesday: Steve Clinton (left), Vice Chairman Dr. Mac Scothorn, Chairman Billy Martin, Ray Sloan, and Dr. Richard Bailey.
Photo by Aila Boyd

Proposed revenues for the county for fiscal year 2020 equal $100,935,164.00– a $3,956,693 increase from last year which equates to a 4.1 percent increase. Projected revenues for fiscal year 2020 include a $66.3 million general fund total– with $53.9 million from local, $11.2 million from state, and $1.2 million from federal.

The balanced budget was achieved through growth in county revenue without having to implement a tax increase.

According to Zerilla’s budget overview, the budget priorities for the county include:

  • Investing in and improving all county functional areas that serve citizens and businesses.

  • Increasing the county tax base by attracting new business development and by supporting growth of current Botetourt-based businesses.

  • Continuing to advance county and constitutional employee compensation towards market-based/competitive salary levels.

  • Planning for strategic use of current and future county-owned buildings.

  • Providing county schools with operational funding support and coverage of school-based debt obligations for existing projects.

The projected $2.6 million increase in local revenues from fiscal year 2019 was attributed to material growth in real estate taxes, continued growth in personal property taxes, realization of public service corporation tax growth, growth in machinery and tools, meals, and other local taxes, an increase in investment earnings, and an increase in fire and emergency medical services recovery funds.

A $368,000 decrease in state revenues and a $49,000 federal revenues increase is projected for fiscal year 2020.

Projected expenditures for fiscal year 2020 equal $100.9 million, including $36.7 million for the general fund, $4.6 million for debt service, $59.5 million for the school fund, and $60,000 for contingency.

Tax rates for the county will remain at their current levels if the proposed budget is passed. The current rates, per $100 of assessed valuation, are: machinery and tools, $1.80; mobile homes, $0.79; personal property, $2.71; real estate, $0.79; motor homes, $2.71, and wind farms, $0.99.

For fiscal year 2019-2020, the proposed School Board total expenditures amount to $59,646,137. Revenue sources include $26,730,890 from state funding, $25,584,193 from local funding, $2,949,250 from federal funding, and $4,381,804 from “other” funding. While federal and “other” funding sources will remain flat, state funding will increase by 3.6 percent.

The school division has requested a $500,000 increase in funding from the county, representing a real increase of 2 percent.

Projected expenditures for the county presented during the budget overview only reflect a $400,000 increase in county funding to the division.

The executive summary of the proposed budget document that the division presented reads, “As a premier school division, Botetourt County Public Schools continues to invest heavily in its most valuable asset, its staff, while maintaining the operational funding support required to provide top notch instructional programs and opportunities for its students.”

The summary goes on to note that average daily membership, the count of the number of students attending county schools, has steadily declined. The projected average daily membership for fiscal year 2019-2020 is 4,505.

The division’s budget includes a one-step increase for all eligible personnel, which equates to a two to 3.5 percent increase, and a 3 percent increase for administrative personnel. A 2 percent increase to all salary scale,s which will allow the division to “remain competitive,” and a one-step correction for eligible employees whose salaries were frozen were also added. Additionally, a 6 percent increase to health insurance coverage costs is expected.

While a number of personnel expenditure items were able to be included in this year’s budget, there is still a tremendous amount of need throughout the division that remains unfunded,” states the summary.

Additional needs identified in the executive summary include numerous small capital replacement items (athletic equipment and technology hardware), large capital replacement items (roof replacement/repair and tracks), playgrounds at most school locations, and ongoing personnel needs.

The 2019-2020 fiscal year will begin on July 1, 2019 and end on June 30, 2020.

One member of the public, William Brown of Murray Drive, spoke during the public hearing. He voiced concerns about the impact that the construction of the new Colonial Elementary School will have on the street that he lives on.

Murray Drive, if you haven’t been up there, is just a short, narrow little dead-end street,” Brown said. “We’ve been wondering if there’s anything in the budget for 2020 about improving that road— making it wider.”