We have a budget
At a special evening meeting on April 21, the Goochland Board of Supervisors approved the proposed budget for fiscal year 2015, which begins on July 1; set tax rates for calendar year 2014; and approved a proposed six year capital improvement plan(CIP). The budget grand total for fiscal 2015 is approximately $65.6 million. (The details, in all their glory, are on the county website www.co.goochland.va.us for all to see. Take a look; they’re spending your money.)
Unlike neighboring jurisdictions, no additional taxes were levied in Goochland and all tax rates--except for the machine and tools tax, which was lowered--remained unchanged. Thanks to an uptick in the value of existing property, which beefed up revenues by more than one percent, retention of the 53 cents per $100 real estate tax rate actually represents a point nine percent tax increase.
Tax bills will soon be generated using the official rates for 2014. First half taxes are due on June 5. If your taxes are not escrowed, and you have not received a tax bill by Mother’s Day, please contact the Treasurer’s Office at 556-5806.
Following the votes on fiscal matters, Board Chair Manuel Alvarez, Jr. District 2 said that the budget is a reflection of the Board’s focus on schools, public safety, and social service programs. The budget includes an increase of $3.5 million for schools; two additional deputies and vehicles for the Sheriff’s Office; and four additional paid fire-rescue providers.
County Administrator Rebecca Dickson explained that the final budget has the same bottom line as the proposed budget, but some categories were changed. These revisions include final figures for items including health insurance and Virginia Retirement System that came in below the budget estimate. As a prudent measure, said Dickson, the “surplus will be set aside so we can be ahead of the game next year.”
Alvarez also pointed out that CIP includes $500,000 to begin to address the repurposing of the Central High School/old middle school facility. Too bad the previous regime did little to preserve the structure, which has been vacant since the end of school in the spring of 2007.
Alvarez said that the budget was the product of lots of hard work by all agencies and citizen input, which is “an important part of the process.” He explained that the supervisors went through the county budget line by line and met with department heads to ensure that public funds are wisely spent. He commended county staff for reducing costs and increasing efficiency.
Crafting and adopting a county budget that funds local services with available revenues is a complicated process. In still lean economic times, accomplishing this feat through collaboration, compromise, and communication with the citizens without even considering tax increases is remarkable.
The carefully choreographed drama of children begging the supervisors to raise taxes and give the extra money to schools that used to be a regular feature of annual budget hearings are gone. Instead, the supervisors and school board talk to each other and fund local education and other necessary services without breaking the bank.
Prudent money management builds a firm foundation for good government.