By Sean Tubbs
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
begins another budget cycle, members of the county’s two elected bodies sat down Tuesday to discuss ways to improve communications. Supervisors and school board members aired their grievances about how the current year’s budget was developed.
In April, the
approved a $142.9 million budget for FY2011, $6.1 million less than the previous budget. Some of the savings came from eliminating more than 40 staff positions, including the equivalent of 22 full-time teaching positions.
Board of Supervisors
kept the property tax rate at 74.2 cents per $100 of assessed value. Because property values declined, the average tax bill was around $90 lower than the previous year.
The session was facilitated by Bill Bosher, executive director of the
Commonwealth Education Policy Institute
at Virginia Commonwealth University. Bosher’s group has conducted management reviews of the school system and
Albemarle County government
“One assumption is that a school system works in the context of budget projections and needs to offer a budget that is balanced within those projections,” Bosher said. “For us today, I believe you want to talk more about what are the mechanisms we can use to confront that process.”
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During the three hour session, Supervisors and School Board members discussed how to better improve how they communicate information about each other’s needs.
, who served on the school board from 1999 to 2003, said he thought the school board members didn’t understand the constraints placed on local government by the recession.
“You didn’t really do a good job of explaining to us why you needed [an] additional two or three million dollars,” Boyd said. “You never told us what your expenditures were and how much you anticipated them to be.”
For the next hour, school board members and supervisors argued over the details of last year’s budget and pledged to do a better job of relaying information as next year’s budget is developed. It is anticipated that the School Board will need to make further cuts in the FY2012 budget due to continued reductions from state government.
One outcome of Tuesday’s retreat is likely to be increased meetings between the two bodies, especially during when the budget process gets underway. Supervisor
said he thought that would go a long way towards increased trust.
“If someone on our board has a perception that they’re wasting money or they should find savings someplace, let’s put it on the table and talk about it,” Rooker said. “It’s very easy not to like somebody you never sit down and talk with.”
The two boards will next meet in October to further discuss the budget. Bosher advised that the boards not to negotiate about money at that meeting, but simply provide each other with information.
“If you have a chance to fairly put your stuff in front of the body that funds you, and they say no, all you really asked for was a fair hearing,” Bosher said. “There’s always going to be a next season.”
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