County expects more general fund revenue in upcoming budget

Staff writer

James City is looking at having more general fund revenue in the coming fiscal year, county staff told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

The snapshot of the county’s financial outlook comes ahead of the fiscal year 2020 budget season, and gave supervisors an idea of what county staff has to work with as it develops a budget proposal for their approval in May.

The fiscal year 2020 budget’s general fund revenue is expected to be $3.4 million more than the estimated revenue of the current fiscal year 2019 general fund at $209.1 million, county finance director Suzanne Mellen said.

Highlights of the fiscal year 2020 budget include a $1.7 million increase to the funds given to Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools, three new police officers and six new firefighters, Mellen said.

Real estate taxes are expected to come to $99.4 million in fiscal year 2019, and $100.8 million in fiscal year 2020. Personal property likewise should see a rise, estimated to be $23.5 million in fiscal year 2019 and $24.5 million in fiscal year 2020. No tax increases were proposed.

Total general fund revenues came in above projections in fiscal year 2018. The county expected $196.3 million, but ended up with $196.8 million. Spending and commitments came in under projections, being budgeted at $196.3 million but actually totaling $193 million, Mellen said.

At the public hearing that preceded the pre-budget discussion, a single county resident took to the lectern.

Judy Fuss spoke in support of funding and staff for the county’s land preservation programs, the Purchase of Development Rights program and Greenspace Fund. Though the programs exist, both lost their dedicated funding streams as a result of the Great Recession.

“I strongly support reactivating these valuable programs and directing FY2020 budget funds to support easement purchases. I further support funding a staff position dedicated to administering these programs,” she said.

Purchase of Development Rights program allows the county or a conservation group to buy development rights from a property owner, while the county actually buys land through the Greenspace program. Both programs exist to preserve rural lands from development.

The proposed budget will be posted to the county’s website on March 29. A public hearing will follow on April 9. After budget work sessions on April 23 and April 30, the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to adopt the budget May 14, according to the county website.

Jack Jacobs, 757-298-6007, jojacobs@vagazette.com, @jajacobs_

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