Albemarle County Executive Bob Tucker has presented
his proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2009
. The combined Capital and Operating Budgets for FY2010 totals $307,682,820, a 7.8% decrease from the previous year. The operating budget alone is $268.2 million, a decrease of $1 million or 0.4% from FY2009. Tucker’s budget includes a tax rate increase from 71 cents to 76.7 cents per $100 of assessed real estate property value. That tax rate includes 2.5 cents which is proposed to be set aside in a “revenue shortfall contingency fund” that would be tapped if County revenues fail to meet expectations. Tax rates are approved for the calendar year, not the fiscal year, thus any adjustment would be retroactive to January 1, 2009. Levying a fractional tax rate, as opposed to rates with whole pennies, is a capability supported by the County’s improved financial management systems for the first time this year.
“This budget does in fact reflect a very measured and deliberate approach to making tough resource allocation decisions in a very challenging and rapidly changing financial environment,” Tucker said.
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Factors that went into creating the budget include:
Tucker said the County is faring better than many communities in Virginia in part because it has been preparing for the downturn for the past two years. He said the County will cope in part by beginning fewer capital projects and used the delay of the Crozet Library as an example.
In response to a question over whether the proposed budget over-estimated the impact of the financial downturn, Tucker responded that he did not think so.
“I would like to be wrong in terms of the County turning around a lot quicker, but right now it’s a little too early to tell whether it has or not,” Tucker said.
Tucker said the County will attempt to protect public safety employees from the continuing hiring freeze, though he acknowledged there would “probably be reduced response times for calls by our Police Department.” He said lay-offs would be the last resort, and he is currently not anticipating having to take that step.
resource management review by the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute
was released too late to have any large impact on this year’s budget, according to Tucker. He pointed out the study recommended adding some staff members.
“They felt like we pretty lean and maybe too lean in some areas,” Tucker said. He said the Board of Supervisors will review the study at a future work session before any of the recommendations become County policy. Deputy County Executive Tom Foley said many of the general concepts have already been implemented.
“Over the last two years, our non-personnel operating costs have been decreased by 10% already,” Foley said. “So finding efficiencies after we’ve already cut 10% can be a little more challenging.”
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