By Sean Tubbs
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Charlottesville City Manager
will present a proposed $142.9 million general fund budget for FY2012 to City Council Monday night, a 1.55% increase from the current year.
The city is not recommending any increases in taxes or fees, and there are no proposed reductions in services.
“We’ve developed a budget that takes into consideration where we are economically,” Jones said during an interview Friday.
“We still have a slowly developing economy so what we’ve tried to do is hold the line on taxes and spending to ensure that we are in a good position to continue to provide the high quality services that folks have come to expect.”
Even though residential real estate assessments experienced a slight decline, overall assessments were up 0.63%, generating a projected $800,000 in additional tax revenue.
“We didn’t see as significant a drop in our assessments as we had feared,” Jones said.
The proposed budget consists of a $130.2 million operating budget, a ‘designated budget’ of $12 million (which includes pupil transportation, some capital items, and debt service) and a $716,784 contribution to the city’s economic downturn fund. That last figure is significantly lower than the amount budgeted for the current year.
“We’ve built in the economic downturn fund just in case we suffered a significant drop in state funding or revenues,” Jones said. “Because our departments have returned money back to us, we have not had to tap into those funds.”
As of now, the downturn fund contains $5.5 million, according to Jones. If revenue collections stay on target during the rest of the current fiscal year, the balance will be around $8.3 million.
“At some point Council will have to make a decision as to what to use it for,” Jones said. “Our recommendation would be to utilize it for one-time projects.”
The biggest expenditure change in the proposed FY2012 budget is a $1.7 million increase in the amount of funding to the school division to help fill a budget deficit caused by a reduction in state funding. That’s a 4.34% increase over the current year.
In addition, Jones and Beauregard are recommending a capital improvement program budget of $23.44 million.
Major capital projects include a new
Fontaine Fire Station
at a cost of $8.75 million. The
University of Virginia
is contributing $750,000 towards that project. Sidewalks and drainage features will be installed on Old Lynchburg Road at a cost of $3 million.
An additional $300,000 will be spent to design and construct new sidewalks. The city’s tree commission will oversee a $51,500 in funding for urban tree preservation and planning. Another $1 million will be added to the
Charlottesville Housing Fund
, but Jones is predicting that will increase before the budget is adopted.
“Council made it clear at the last city council that they wanted us to fund it beyond a million dollars,” Jones said. “Before this budget is approved, we’ll find another $400,000 to add to that.”
Following the presentation Monday night, Council will hold a series of work sessions to review the different areas of the budget. They will hold a public hearing on March 21, a community budget forum on March 23, and a second public hearing on April 4. Council is set to adopt the budget at a special meeting on April 12.
Other highlights in the budget: