Brighter budget outlook in the county

Who gets the biggest slice of the pie? Here’s how Interim County Executive Doug Walker suggests spending nearly $400 million this year. Who gets the biggest slice of the pie? Here’s how Interim County Executive Doug Walker suggests spending nearly $400 million this year.

When Interim County Executive Doug Walker presented Albemarle County’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 to the Board of Supervisors last week, unlike last year, it did not include a bump in the 83.9 cents per $100 real estate tax rate.

Revenues are projected to increase $21,866,508, or 5.8 percent, thanks primarily to higher real estate values and soaring property assessments. The current adopted budget’s real estate tax increase added $7.8 million to the pot. And for the first time in half a dozen years, Albemarle’s revenue sharing payment to the city will go up—an $88,401 increase for a total of $15.9 million.

The combined operating expenditures from the budget’s three major funds (General Fund, School Budget and Capital Budget) are the first significant spending boost the county has seen in awhile, increasing $17.4 million, or 5.4 percent from fiscal year 2017. Some of those expenditures include:

  • $958,281 for a 2 percent raise for county employees
  • $75,000 for the hiring of a “diversity/inclusion generalist” in the human resources department
  • $2 million for building the Belvedere Senior Center
  • $61,534 for five extra hours of operation at the Northside Library each week
  • $150,000 expansion to the Innovation Fund
  • $95,671 for a comprehensive digital records
    management system

Here’s a closer look at how the three major funds break down for fiscal year 2018.

General Fund

Up by 6.5 percent, or $16.8 million over 2017

The majority of county revenue is part of the general fund, where dollars are received and allocated to support all county operations including schools, government and the capital program.

  • Property tax revenues expected to increase by
    $12.2 million, or 7.3 percent
  • Sales, food and beverage taxes expected to increase $2.1 million, or 4 percent
  • State revenues expected to increase by $0.6 million, or 2.8 percent
  • Federal revenues expected to increase by $0.6 million, or 11.2 percent

School Budget

Up by 6.1 percent, or $7.1 million

County schools receive money from the school budget, along with $2 million from the general fund as part of the county’s Central Services Cost Allocation Plan.

  • The School Board’s requested budget is $181.1 million, with a $530,811 gap in funding for fiscal year 2018
  • The school division’s debt service includes
    $3 million in expenses not supported by last year’s budget

Capital Budget

Up $2.1 million, or 9.4 percent

The Capital Improvement Plan for fiscal years 2018-2022 invests in new projects and maintains existing infrastructure. The recommended budget for the five-year CIP is $177.4 million. Some projects include:

  • Contributions to the Belvedere Senior Center and Piedmont Virginia Community College
  • Transportation revenue sharing program
  • School security improvements
  • Woodbrook Elementary School addition and modernization construction project
  • Court addition and renovation project

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