Goochland County supervisors held public hearings on the proposed FY2022 county budget, tax rates, and utility fees on April 6. The final vote to adopt the budget will be held at a 4 p.m. meeting on April 20. A generous increase in property values enabled new spending on county needs. Wise use of tax dollars is perhaps the most important job of elected officials.
The all-in figure for the proposed FY 2022 budget is $139,741,345. For details, see page 230 of the April 6 board packet available at http://goochlandcountyva.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=1&ID=1298&Inline=True.
This includes a county transfer of $34.5 million to schools.
This budget will probably be amended several times during the year as the county receives additional federal stimulus money and details as to how those funds may be used are clarified.
The real estate tax rate remains at 53 cents per $100 of valuation. This is technically a tax increase because the amount of revenue this rate generates using the 2021 county wide assessed valuation exceeds last year’s revenues by more than one percent.
Board vice chair Ken Peterson, District 5, contended that maintaining a level tax rate is revenue neutral in the long run, generating more revenue in good times and less in bad to avoid raising taxes during economic downturns.
The FY22 budget increases funding for public safety and education. Being able to offer salary scales and benefit packages attractive enough to enable Goochland to compete with neighboring jurisdictions for the best employees is a significant challenge.
An item on the April 6 consent agenda was an amendment to the employment contract of County Attorney Tara McGee “due to a change in the market value of the position.” As proposed, the FY22 budget showed no increase for this department. For all of the alleged “transparency” in the budget process, this amendment, which would seem to affect the final budget, is buried in numbers. McGee’s position, responsible for all county legal matters, illustrates the salary conundrum. She should be compensated to reflect her valuable contribution to the success of local government, as should all county and school employees. Paying for that is the tricky part.
School Board Chair Karen Horn, Vice Chair Mike Newman, and Jeremy Raley, speaking as a private citizen, advocated for funding to offer health insurance benefits to bus drivers and food service employees who are vital to the success of local education.
The public hearing was just that, the supervisors listened. Comments were accepted until April 12. The supervisors have a week to consider the budget and ponder citizen input before final adoption of the budget.