New Kent superintendent proposes 3 percent raise for staff as school board and supervisors discuss budgets

aluck@tidewaterreview.com

Staff raises are proposed for all New Kent County government and schools employees next year.

New Kent County School Board, Board of Supervisors and county staff held a joint budget retreat March 15, and division Superintendent David Myers proposed a 3 percent raise for all staff.

County administrator Rodney Hathaway has also proposed a salary increase of 5 percent in his fiscal year 2019-2020 budget.

Schools

Myers discussed his proposed budget first, with highlights including additional teacher salary scale adjustments based on years of experience at a cost of $155,742. This would be an additional increase of 1 to 2 percent for some teachers, plus the proposed3 percent for all staff.

Myers’ proposed general fund budget is $32,591,289: $218,480 in local revenue (grants, fees, refunds), $18,098,214 in state funding and $14,274,595 in funding from the county.

A stipend schedule for teachers who have additional duties, such as coaching sports teams, for an increase of $7,448 is also included in the budget.

A starting salary for teachers of $44,148 is proposed, compared to the current starting teacher salary of $43,071.

Both School Board members Dr. Gail Hardinge and Andrea M. Staskiel emphasized the division needs to work on pay for teachers at all levels.

To meet the county’s fast-paced growth, Myers’ budget also includes seven new positions, possibly six teachers and one guidance counselor because of recent changes made by the General Assembly in guidance counselor to student ratios for a cost of $501,176; Also an additional paraprofessional for special education at a cost of $30,906; and an additional registered nurse for a total of four, one for each school at a cost of $67,475.

Two new school bus routes are on schedule for next year, and Myers proposes adding two new bus drivers and to switch four part-time bus drivers to full time for a total cost of $81,859.

Myers said the division expects a 3 percent increase in employee health insurance costs, although the precise amount remains unknown.

Myers has asked the county for $400,828 to replace four buses; $210,000 for new generators at New Kent Elementary and Middle Schools; $100,632 to repave the elementary preschool playground’s surface; and $122,557 for one new trailer pending anticipated higher enrollment.

Myers also requested $10,000 for technology services citing growing school enrollment.

Myers said one of the division’s main priorities is New Kent Elementary number three which will be built on 15.1 acres in Quinton. The original projected amount is $28 million, although the division will know more in the next few weeks to come, according to Myers.

County

Hathaway’s revised budget is $69,939,010, with $14,034,595 for the schools.

Hathaway originally proposed a $200,000 increase for schools, then lowered that to a $160,000 after a few revisions.

Myers said he is still requesting the original $200,000 to meet the needs of the division with growing enrollment numbers.

There are no proposed increases in real estate or personal property taxes in the budget.

Hathaway is recommending to lower the 4 percent admissions tax to zero, as Colonial Downs would be taxed greatly when the off-track betting facility opens in April and the live track opens in August.

“We may hold a public hearing at one of our April meetings for that possible change,” Hathaway said.

In November, supervisors approved lowering the machinery and tools tax from $1.50 to $0.75.

County staff

Five percent salary increases for county staff are projected to cost $509,268 and would go into effect July 1, according to the proposed budget document.

With the county getting smaller-than-expected increases in employer health insurance costs, Hathaway has proposed a 5 percent cost reduction for employees with family and plus-one insurance plans, which will cost the county $77,586, according to Hathaway.

The county will add six new positions at a cost of $360,643: one sheriff’s deputy, changing one part-time custodian to full time and four firefighter/emergency medical technicians, according to Hathaway.

Board of Supervisors vice chairwoman Patricia Paige said she feels uncomfortable with only one new sheriff’s deputy with an additional court day and judge coming to New Kent County within the year.

“We could look at two deputies verses one department of social services worker,” Paige said.

The difference in salaries is $68,000 for a deputy and $14,000 for the social services worker, according to Hathaway.

“We could certainly put the social services position to the side and then look at the contingency fund in December for another possible deputy,” Hathaway said. “The social services position would be assisting with residents that don’t meet the requirements for service.”

Sheriff Joe McLaughlin Jr. requested seven new employees, five deputies and two dispatchers, according to Hathaway.

The board agreed to weigh the options and discuss the matter at a later meeting.

Hathaway also informed the board he is working with Commonwealth’s Attorney Linwood Gregory on an agreement for an additional staff member to review body camera footage, per legislation passed by the General Assembly.

“The legislation says we can have a Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney or work out an agreement with our Commonwealth’s Attorney for a part-time or full-time position,” Hathaway said. “I will keep you (the board) updated on our discussions.”

County projects

With the Colonial Downs facility set to reopen this year — the Rosie’s gaming emporium in April and the track in August — Hathaway proposes a capital reserve fund account for revenue from Colonial Downs.

“We could set aside the funds we receive for any county capital projects,” he said.

Other county improvements or projects include six sheriff’s office vehicles, one environmental department vehicle and one social services vehicle at a cost of $396,000.

Land easements and rights of way from property owners to clear trees and cut off the top of trees at the county airport to be in line with requirements for landing and taking off will cost $300,000.

One phase of a proposed water system connections project is on tap for next fiscal year at a cost of $3,764,000, which includes tying the Farms of New Kent and Kentland water systems together (where Colonial Downs and Brickshire are located), for one looped water system, according to Hathaway.

The county plans to hold a public hearing on the budget at the board’s regular meeting at 6 p.m. April 8, and take action on the budget at the work session at 9 a.m. April 24. The board meets in the County Administration Building boardroom, 12007 Courthouse Circle in New Kent.

Review archives were used in this report.

Luck can be reached at 757-291-2038, aluck@tidewaterreview.com or @ashleyrluck on Twitter

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