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Budget hearing is April 11

No tax increases are included in the proposed fiscal year (FY) 2017-18 county operating budget in Cumberland County.

According to District Three Supervisor and Board Chairman Kevin Ingle, the board reached the general understanding of keeping taxes level as they worked on the proposed budget.

“There was an understanding that we really do not want to increase the taxes at all, if possible,” said Ingle. “At the budget workshop the other night, it was a general consensus amongst the five board members that we did not plan on any type of tax increase.”

Rates, according to the budget, will remain the same, including the .78 cents per $100 of assessed value on real estate and $4.50 for personal property.

The $31 million budget estimates the county will receive $11.5 million in revenue from local sources and $2.6 million from the state.

General fund expenditures total $6.9 million and transfers to other funds adds another $7.2 million to the county’s projected expenditures, including $3.77 million transferred to the school fund, according to the proposed budget.

The county’s school board is requesting a $300,000 increase compared to its current fiscal year budget.

Kevin Ingle

Ingle said he wouldn’t comment on whether or not the funding increase would be provided to the school board as the public hearing had not been held.

The remainder of the proposed budget includes expenditures to special funds, including the utilities operating fund ($429,500), health insurance fund ($2.3 million) and Child Services Act ($750,000). The budget projects $3.1 million going toward the county’s debt service.

Ingle says the budget has not been finalized and minor changes will be made before the public hearing April 11.

“There has been some slight adjustments as far as certain departments,” Ingle said. “There will be some slight changes to the budget before it’s presented to the board on the night of the public hearing … Small dollar amounts, as far as I know at this point in time.”

Ingle said he liked the look of the budget but was not willing to comment on what the final budget will look like.

“The base budget itself was a good-looking operational budget from my standpoint, but (that’s) all speculatory, and I don’t want to be commenting right now as far as what I think will go through,” Ingle said. “We still have a couple of weeks before we even get to the public hearing, and then we have another week past that to be able to make the vote on accepting or not accepting the budget.”

School officials say their funding is projected to fall short by about $47,000 in the upcoming fiscal year compared to the current 2016-17 fiscal year, according to the proposed budget adopted by school leaders March 13.

The board is asking the county for the additional funds to make up for a decrease in federal and other revenues.

“We have developed a school operating budget that meets the minimal needs of the school division while being sensitive to the local economy,” said Division Superintendent Dr. Amy Griffin.

“With a decrease in state and federal funding and increase in (Virginia Retirement System) benefits and special education costs, we are asking for additional local funding to cover these mandated costs, plus a one-percent salary supplement for all employees — excluding administrators — to assist with retaining and recruiting quality staff.”

Griffin said to assist in closing the gap, the division has to make painful cuts before asking the locality for any additional funding.

The public hearing for the proposed county operating budget and unchanged tax rates, along with the county’s capital improvements plan, will be held Tuesday, April 11, at 7 p.m. in the circuit courtroom in the courthouse.