Vote on one-time payment for county employees pushed to Nov. 17

The Board of Supervisors will wait until Nov. 17 to decide what to do with roughly $28 million in savings from fiscal 2010.

At the panel’s Oct. 27 meeting, Allan Carmody, budget and management director, gave a report on fiscal 2010 that had been presented to the Budget and Audit Committee, which includes Supervisors Dan Gecker and Jim Holland, the day before.

Revenues came in $1.4 million, or 0.2 percent, under projected levels, he said, which is impressive in light of the fact that the projection was locked in 16 months ago.

Expenditures came in significantly lower than budgeted, as the county saved $18.5 million, after covering the shortfall, and the schools posted a surplus of $9.5 million.

Staff has recommended that $10.3 million on the county side and the school’s $9.5 million in savings be left unallocated for future use. Of the remaining $8.25 million, staff recommends that:

  • $150,000 be appropriated to eliminate the $5 youth sports fee in fiscal 2012;
  • $100,000 be appropriated for community groups and other contracts that improve citizens’ quality of life;
  • $3.25 million be appropriated for one-time capital expenses and projects;
  • And $4.75 million be appropriated for one-time payments for county employees equal to 3 percent of their annual salaries.

At the budget and audit meeting, Carmody said employees who had been with the county for one year or less would be excluded from the group receiving the one-time payment.

On Wednesday, Clover Hill Supervisor Art Warren said the Staff deserved a lot of credit for the county ending fiscal 2010 with money in hand. He probably agreed with 99 percent of the proposal for the surplus, but he hadn’t had a chance to hear from residents on the issue, he said.

“I personally feel that we should take this up at our Nov. 17 board meeting,” he said.

Holland said he wanted to underscore the importance of the county’s “hardworking and industrious employees,” whose efforts have produced this positive result.

“We’ve minimized the impact to our citizens and we’ve continued to serve them in an exemplary fashion,” he said.

Matoaca Supervisor Marleen Durfee said she also wanted to applaud the efforts of Carmody and County Administrator Jay Stegmaier, but the board needed to have more discussion of the surplus.

“I do think it requires a little bit more time for us to consider the surplus,” she said. Taking time to consider the issue shows that the board is being a good steward of the taxpayers’ money, she said.

Bermuda Supervisor Dorothy Jaeckle noted that the public didn’t receive information on the surplus or potential plans for it until the day before the board meeting. The recommendations are good, she said, but the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee should take a look at it, too.

Gecker said he thought the staff’s proposal was sound. He also noted that the budget and audit panel made a recommendation at its meeting to increase the fund balance from 7.5 percent to 8 percent of the county’s operating budget.

Officials aren’t talking about giving employees raises, he said, and the money wasn’t “found” – officials knew it was coming and where it was coming from. The deferral should be viewed as a reaction to the fact that the matter is a “major item” and that it’s hitting some supervisors “relatively cold,” he said.

“I don’t think this deferral ought to be misread as disagreeing philosophically with where this is going,” he said.

The panel voted unanimously to defer the matter to Nov. 17.

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