Albemarle County has finalized its spending plan for the fiscal year that ends on June 30, 2020.

The Tuesday 5-1 vote in favor of the budget by the Board of Supervisors ended a budget season that began in September, when the Board of Supervisors discussed their strategic priorities for the next three years.

Little changed over the course of the discussions. The board added several positions, including a police officer and two social service positions, to the proposed operating budget and increased the hours of another position to full time.

One notable change was the Board of Supervisors’ decision to spend $2.2 million to officially open Biscuit Run Park instead of Hedgerow Park, after Rex Linville of the Piedmont Environmental Council noted that Biscuit Run fit more of the criteria in the county’s

2018 Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment

. The park was not under Albemarle’s control until January 2018.

The board also decided to fund a JAUNT express route between Crozet and Charlottesville.

Albemarle County staff provided the Board of Supervisors with a comparison of Biscuit Run and Hedgerow parks for a February budget work session. Credit: Credit: County of Albemarle Credit: Credit: County of Albemarle

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The total adopted budget is $456.8 million. The budget increased 5.7% over the previous year and includes a 1.5 cents per $100 of assessed value real estate tax rate increase .

Supervisor Rick Randolph cast the lone vote against the budget. Randolph said that he wanted the supervisors to consider a higher real estate tax rate increase.

“We … [have] a seriously underfunded CIP, vis-a-vis the breadth and depth of projects that are needed for schools, for parks and recreation, for general government, for sidewalks and multimodal transportation in the urban ring,” Randolph said. “We’re not moving the needle for them. If you don’t move the needle in a good economy, when do you move the needle?”

The majority of county voters in 2016 approved the purchase of $35 million in bonds to pay for school security measures and other improvements. The county estimated at the time that it would need to increase real estate taxes by 1.3 cents but voted to refrain from increasing taxes until this year.

“I’ve heard from many citizens who say, ‘This is fine. We need to do this,’ and are struggling to make it happen. I think that’s a common concern that each of us has, and we’re trying to do the best we can,” Supervisor Ann H. Mallek said.

Property values increased by an average of 4% after reassessments this year.

The county’s School Board still has to adopt its budget. The vote is schedule to take place on April 25.

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Emily Hays

Emily Hays grew up in Charlottesville and graduated from Yale in 2016. She covered growth, development, and affordable living. Before writing for Charlottesville Tomorrow, she produced a podcast on education and caste in Maharashtra, India.