Budget cuts deep, still leave deficit

The Board of Supervisors last week made an effort to cut the budget before the deadline of May 1. Although the cuts were deep, the Board still ended, while holding the line of a 1 cent increase in real-estate taxes, the budget discussion and vote with a $2.6 million deficit.

“That leaves us with a $2.6 million deficit.” Alan Carmody, budget and management director said to the Board after their long-winded discussion and before the Board voted for approval.  

Some of the cuts included $200,000 to public affairs and the “Reams-Gordon” library on Reams Road in Clover Hill district, which construction would be stopped and resume in 2017.

“Ten libraries are closed one day a week and I can’t justify a new library when we are cutting other items. Just doesn’t make sense,” Ms. Jaecke said.

“Libraries are a quality of life issue and I’m going to support it,” Jim Holland, Chairman of the Board and Dale District Supervisor, responded.

“This is one of the linchpin items: one or two of the items are important while this is one of the larger items,” said Dan Gecker, Supervisor of the Midlothian District.

Art Warren, whose district the library would be located in said, “It was considered by the citizens in the 2004 bond referendum, which sends a clear message to the citizens, and I don’t like to renege on a promise that we have made.”

While it was discussed that the fire station on Harrowgate Road would be cut, late in the discussion Dorothy Jaeckle, Bermuda District Supervisor, had it added back into the budget.

The fire station on Harrowgate Road will be funded, including an ambulance, fire truck and staff to operate it.

“The fire station does add a lot to the revitalization of the program of the county,” Steve Elswick, Matoaca District Supervisor and former fire chief said of the new fire station.
Access Chesterfield would be reduced by $50,000 and restricted to doctor visits only.

“They have said that they cannot provide a trip for less than $40. That is not sustainable,” Jaeckle said.

An add-back of community arts and culture of $50,000, which cuts community arts and culture funding by only a half, will be made.

“I think we have to look at what is in the best interest of the citizens including our children. You cannot cut your way to excellence.” Holland said.

Vehicle registration will be doubled in the new budget. It was currently $20 per registration each year, but has been increased to $40. The additional money generated by the increase would be used for transportation improvements.

An addition 1.6 cent that would be added to cover environment mandates was eliminated and shoved back a year.

The 1.6 cent state environment mandates, will be changed to reflect a funding to the projects when land is still inexpensive, Gecker said.

“I think the board should consider not adopting this mandate this year as part of this year’s budget,” Jaeckle said, “the Board could delay the decision until next year.”

The 1.6 cent state environment mandates, will be changed to reflect a funding for the projects when land is still inexpensive, Gecker said. “If we don’t start saving this year, it will increase to 5 cents next year,” said Gecker. Continuing Gecker said, “We can buy property to use for this mandated project including a dredge of Swift Creek Reservoir, which is separate from other environment projects.”

Mr. Warren stated that he was around when many of the programs were started.

Jaeckle said sarcastically, “Thank you, Mr. Warren.”

Holland returned the comment, “Thank you Mr. Warren, seriously.”

After cuts were made and discussion on the tax rate began, Alan Carmody said, “That leaves us with a $2.6 million deficit.”

"We lost the meals tax and now we have to raise the real-estate tax,” said Art Warren, Supervisor of the Clover Hill District.

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