Albemarle County Board of Supervisors

is holding their public hearing tonight on the County Executive’s budget request.  However, at the beginning of their meeting this morning under other business,

Chairman Ken Boyd (Rivanna)

shared his intention to change the agenda to add a new element to the evening hearing, an opportunity for the Board to outline their positions and frame the budget in front of the audience.

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In the past, budget hearings by the Board of Supervisors have followed a similar predictable script.  The County Executive makes a presentation, the public hearing is opened, the public who sign up each get 3 minutes to address the Board, and then the hearing is closed.  The emphasis has always been on the public’s feedback on the County Executive’s funding request.  The Board moves from that point into a calendar of work sessions to examine specific areas of the budget and they ultimately reach a point where they are ready to vote on the tax rate and final budget.

Mr. Boyd, said he wanted to allow each Board member three minutes to address the audience before the start of public comment.  A large audience is expected in Lane Auditorium for tonight’s public hearing.  He suggested this would also be a lighthearted way to educate the public about how the three minute timer worked and it would also give board members an opportunity to make remarks in front of the audience and media.  Mr. Boyd indicated that he was looking for an opportunity to personally frame the budget situation.

The Board did


reach consensus to support a change to the public hearing agenda.

Lindsay Dorrier (Scottsville) suggested it would be best to hear from the public before making comments. Supervisor Sally Thomas (Samuel Miller) suggested it might be appropriate for the Chairman to make some general comments about the budget process and the value of public input.  Supervisor David Slutzky (Rio) and Supervisor David Wyant (White Hall) indicated they would be unlikely to take advantage of that opportunity to speak and that they wanted to listen to the public before sharing their views.

Mr. Boyd stated that he thought this was the appropriate time to offer some feedback on the “philosophical issues of how we approach the budget.”  If not now, he asked the Board when they thought the appropriate time was to insert this feedback into the discussion.  Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett) indicated he could go either way with the proposed agenda change.  He suggested budget direction, however, was best given in the Fall before you start the budget process.  Mr. Boyd said, “In the Fall we don’t know the potential appraised increased values are going to be, in the Fall we don’t know what the budget is going to look like, we don’t know what the needs are.  It’s very difficult to  philosophically make changes at that point when you have no idea what is in store for you for the upcoming year.”

Charlottesville Tomorrow

has analyzed the financial data available to the Supervisors late last year. On November 1, 2006,

the Board received a five-year projection

for real estate tax revenues.  The staff report at the time indicated the following:

“Overall FY08 revenues, transfers, and use of fund balance are projected to increase $22.1 million dollars, or 11.07%, over the FY07 budget. The revenue increases are summarized as follows:

Property Taxes increase $18.6 million, 15.17%…

County Executive Bob Tucker has built his 2007-08 budget on the assumption that the revenues he told the Supervisors in November would be collected with a $0.74 tax rate would be available. This year, with the switch to annual assessments in 2008, there is also a one-time windfall of $3.5 million.  The Supervisors directed in January that those funds be set aside in a reserve fund for discussion in the upcoming budget process.

Brian Wheeler

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Charlottesville Tomorrow

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