By Aila Boyd

The Botetourt County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to approve the 2019-2020 budget at its April meeting last Tuesday.

The $100.9 million budget includes a 4.1 percent or $4 million anticipated increase in revenues and a 4.1 percent increase in expenditures.

The proposed county fund transfer to the school division was $24,959,282, a $400,000 increase from the previous budget. However, $50,000 was added last minute after Supervisor Dr. Richard Bailey, who represents the Fincastle District, requested that the funds transferred from the county’s contingency fund.

Obviously, we feel that the schools are tremendously important. We want to support them in every way we can,” Bailey said. “There’s never enough money.

Bailey, who is an ex officio member of the school division’s Budget Committee, said that as the budget process progressed, it became clear that a little more than $62,000 was present in the contingency fund.

It became obvious that a good use for it, in my opinion, would be to move $50,000 of that to the schools,” Bailey explained. “It’s our way of saying ‘We hear you. We want to support you.’ It was a way we could get a little closer to their request.”

Bailey stressed that the Board of Supervisors simply supplies the funds to the school division and isn’t in control of hiring and firing decisions.

He added that although $50,000 isn’t a “gamechanger,” it was what the Board of Supervisors had available.

Originally the Botetourt County School Board requested a $500,000 increase in funding from last year to the Board of Supervisors.

John Busher, superintendent of Botetourt County Public Schools, said that the $50,000 in question shouldn’t be thought of as being an “additional $50,000,” rather “$50,000 less that has to be cut.” He noted that discussions about how the $50,000 will be used are ongoing.

Finance Director Tony Zerilla also requested that $4,549 be transferred out of the contingency fund for a line item that should have been included in the Recreational Facilities Department’s budget. He noted that the two transfers will leave the contingency fund still balanced, with $7,500 remaining.

Aside from the two transfers from the contingency fund, the budget that was passed reflected the same figures that were advertised and were up for public discussion during the April 10 public hearing.

The 2019-2020 budget will go into effect on July 1.

Following the approval of the budget, Supervisor Dr. Mac Scothorn, who represents the Valley District, noted that because the Board of Supervisors works closely with the school division, he would like it if the supervisors could be engaged in the School Board’s search to replace retiring superintendent John Busher.

Busher provided Scothorn with a “thumbs up.”