Botetourt budget committee unanimous in recommending 2% raise

Supervisor Larry Ceola agreed he would support a 2 percent pay raise for Botetourt County employees after a two-hour budget committee meeting Wednesday morning in Fincastle.

His decision followed  another lengthy budget discussion, this time with the two other budget committee members, Terry Austin and Steve Clinton.

Austin and Clinton are long-time budget committee members who had already expressed unyielding support for the proposed pay raise in the county’s 2011-12 budget.

The committee meeting was called after Monday’s special Board of Supervisors meeting about the budget.

The three agreed to support the proposed $85 million budget and the pay raise but not before some contentious words over a proposal Ceola brought to the meeting.

Ceola said he had discussed the pay raise issue with Supervisors Don Assaid and Billy Martin individually after Monday’s meeting, when the board remained split over whether to give a raise or bonuses in the coming fiscal year.

Ceola offered that he, Assaid and Martin would support the 2 percent pay raise if the county also reduced the real estate tax rate by 2 cents, from the current 65 cents per $100 valuation—either that, or the bonus.

Austin, Clinton and County Administrator Jerry Burgess were adamant that a pay raise tied to a tax rate decrease would  destroy the county’s financial credibility, and would mean the budget process would have to start all over again because the supervisors  are required to adopt a balanced budget.

Clinton and Austin also argued against the bonus as they had done at Monday’s full board meeting.

After taking a committee recess, Ceola said he believed the right thing to do was provide the raise. “I’ll stand with you on the 2 percent raise,” he told Clinton and Austin.

The full board will vote on the proposed budget at its April 26 meeting at Greenfield Education and Training Center.

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