Proposed James City County budget grows in fiscal year 2018

tjefferson@vagazette.com
Schools to receive bulk of revenue, according to county budget

The county will operate with a slightly larger spending plan that gives more money to schools, while also raising water and sewer rates in the 2018 fiscal year, according to the proposed budget made public Friday.

James City County administrator Bryan Hill's budget includes $228 million in spending, a $2.8 million increase from the current fiscal year.

"We have planned this budget to ensure each citizen in James City County gets exactly what they've been paying for including good schools and construction projects for roads," Hill said.

Supervisors will hold their first meeting to discuss the budget at an April 11 work session.

Hill's budget increases water and sewer rates while keeping the tax rates for real estate and personal property level.

"We're looking at ensuring that we have an alternative water source in James City County," Hill said. "(The rate increase) is helping us get our infrastructure ready for an alternative water source."

The new quarterly rate for water is proposed to increase to $9.30, from $8.19. The rate for sewage will go up by 12 cents to $5.89. This is the third year of water and sewer rate increases, which were implemented by the James City Service Authority.

In the budget, the county plans to give nearly $2.1 million more to Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools, increasing its contribution to $105.4 million for operating and capital projects. Still, the county's budget is $681,000 short of the funding needed in the schools budget approved by the school board March 21.

Both county and schools officials have said the state continues to not fund its fair share for schools.

Despite an 11 percent growth in student population in the county since 2009, the state increased its contributions to the school division by 0.9 percent. The state will contribute $33.1 million in 2017, which is a $300,000 increase from 2009.

"(Schools) are an area we're devoting a large amount of dollars to because the state doesn't fund what's needed there," county financial service director Suzanne Mellen said.

Hill said his budget proposal takes into account the growing county population.

"As our population continues to grow, it is evident that additional funding will be needed for public safety, road infrastructure, potential water needs, education and investment in work force," he wrote in his budget message to the board of supervisors.

The county proposes also giving $225,000 more to public safety — including animal control, Fire EMS, emergency communications, emergency management, police and sheriff — compared to the 2017 fiscal year.

The proposed budget funds two new full time police officer positions, and the department is budgeted to receive $235,000 more than it did in the current fiscal year.

County employees are eligible to receive merit-based pay raises. Hill said no major personnel changes are planned.

"This budget ties everything together with our strategic plan which will take us to 2035," Hill said. "We are putting things in place to make sure our rate structure is the same and we're building upon our capital infrastructure needs. We are making sure the schools are funded adequately. Nobody wants a child in a school that is falling apart."

Jefferson can be reached by phone at 757-790-9313.

Want to go to a public hearing on the budget?

When: 5 p.m., April 11

Where: 101 Mounts Bay Road

View online: bit.ly/2nIjlsx

Want to meet with your local representative to discuss the budget?

Kevin Onizuk (Jamestown)

When: 6:30 p.m., April 10

Where: 4301 New Town Avenue

Ruth Larson (Berkeley)

When: 6:30 p.m., April 12

Where: 3751 John Tyler Highway

John McGlennon (Roberts)

When: 6:30 p.m., April 13

Where: 101 Mounts Bay Road

Michael Hipple (Powhatan)

When: 6:30 p.m., April 17

Where: 5301 Longhill Road

Sue Sadler (Stonehouse)

When: 6:30 p.m., April 19

Where: 7770 Croaker Road

The county will vote on the proposed budget on April 25.

Budget at a glance

2017 budget / 2018 proposed / change

Total spending: $225,076,270/ $228,221,821/ 1.4 percent

Real estate revenue: $95,000,000/ $96,500,000/ 1.6 percent

Personal property revenue: $20,893,500/ $21,950,000/ 5 percent

Total personnel: 730/ 742/ 1.6 percent

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