County supervisors reflect on Shenandoah Farms residents divided over health district stewardship initiative – Royal Examiner


At a special Tuesday, March 22 meeting, the Warren County Board of Supervisors approved an announcement for an April 12 public hearing on its proposed budget for the 2022/23 fiscal year. The budget of $104,398,159 – including a General Fund contribution of $89.80 million in support of all its departments, regional partnerships/external agencies and a local appropriation of $27.72 million for the budget of public schools – was achieved without any proposed tax increases. The General Fund portion of the budget reflects an increase of only 1.57% ($1 million) over the current year’s General Fund budget expenditures.

With Chief Financial Officer Matt Robertson on the podium, county supervisors, minus the absentee Jay Butler, ponder financial variables as they head to an April 12 public hearing on the proposed $104.39 million budget. dollars for fiscal year 2023. Below that, taxes are expected to remain flat, but general tax revenue is expected to jump about $3.2 million due to increases in real estate and personal property assessments. Photos of Royal Examiner Roger Bianchini

The county’s relatively new chief financial officer, Matt Robertson, and his department have been praised by multiple supervisors for their work on the upcoming fiscal year’s budget and their openness to questions about various budget dynamics as the process evolved in recent months. . Contacted later by Royal Examiner about an overview of the budget for the 2022/23 financial year, Robertson noted that total expenditure, not including the state schools portion of the budget, was $57,806,517, with a total of $46,591,642 going to county public schools in three categories. These categories are operations ($27,720,000, contribution to the General Fund); Capital improvements ($8,571,642); and debt service on past capital improvements ($10,300,000).

On the departmental side of the county, $4,822,621 was incurred for administrative functions; $5,975,174 to Public Works; $7,468,878 to Health and Welfare Services; $3,474,707 to parks and recreation and culture (library, museum, cultural events); and $2,792,561 to community development, including planning and zoning ($484,166), economic development ($2,140,616, a reduction of $1,056,884 from the EDA budget this fiscal year), and related services; $2,136,087 to court services, including a new expense, $70,160 to help establish a more rehab-focused inter-municipal drug court that has proven successful in Frederick/Winchester County in recent years; and $15,295,950 to Public Safety, including $7.47 million to the Sheriff’s Office, up from $2.18 million, in part to help add requested additional staff.

Matt Robertson had a smile on his face after he and his department were praised for their hard work and responsiveness to questions throughout the FY23 budget process.

With public safety and public education often seen as two of the primary responsibilities of municipal governments to their citizens, it is perhaps unsurprising to see these relatively large expenditures of $27 million (public schools) and $15 million dollars (public safety) go to these operating budgets, especially with the size of public school operations comprising two high schools, two middle schools and five elementary schools.

Four “Regional Partnerships” received a total of $4,052,300, with the RSW Tri-County Regional Jail (Rappahannock, Shenandoah, Warren) receiving the bulk of that at $3,429,100. Other partnerships include Northwestern Community Services ($343,000), a juvenile detention facility ($240,000), and Laurel Ridge Community College ($40,200).

Other budget highlights include the creation of an Asset Replacement Fund ($1,844,583) and a Capital Improvement Fund ($1,220,125). A PowerPoint presentation on these funds showed the distribution of these budgets across a variety of projects (Capital Improvements) and departments (Asset Replacement). On the county’s capital improvement plan totaling $14,839,853 for the school division ($8.5 million), fire and rescue ($3.4 million), public works ($1.7 million dollars) and Parks and Recreation ($1.2 million), it was noted that all but the $1.2 million allocated to the new fund would be paid for by grants ($6.2 million), special projects funding ($3.3 million), deferred debt service ($3 million) and prior year fund balance ($1 million).

Asked about the process behind these two new funds, Robertson explained, “The Capital Improvement Fund is a reflection of the capital improvement plan that addresses the capital project needs of the county over a 5 year planning period. years. The Fund exists to deliberately set aside, track, and accumulate funds over time to pay for those larger needs without hurting taxpayers in specific years and to create long-term funding strategies.

“Similarly, the Asset Replacement Fund sets aside funds to replace significant assets that are not provided for in normal operating expenses. Specifically, we target the areas most in need, such as replacement of radio equipment and fire and rescue devices. Again, the money is specifically invested in this fund for the purposes listed so that we can track our major expenditures and ensure funding is available as equipment needs to be replaced over time.

A PowerPoint chart of the expected distribution of the Asset Replacement Fund.

On the asset replacement side, with a total of $2,792,150 proposed to six departments, it was noted that approximately $1 million was to be paid through special project funds. The allocated asset replacement budget of $1.84 million and change would be distributed to Fire & Rescue ($800,000), Sheriff’s Office ($1,263,100), Parks & Rec ($86,000), Information Technology ( $410,000), Public Works/Refuse ($100,000) and General Administration ($163,550).

On the revenue side, despite taxes remaining stable, it was reported that an increase of about $3.2 million in tax revenue was expected due to tax “assessment increases”. on real estate and personal property. In contrast, a revenue loss of $200,000 was expected due to lower interest rates on county accounts.

If your head is spinning from all those budget numbers and variables, remember that you have about three weeks to clear your head and tell county elected officials what you like or dislike about the Proposed upcoming fiscal year (July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023) budget.

See the budget presentation and discussion that started the March 22 special meeting in the linked county video. This 7:00 p.m. meeting followed a 5:00 p.m. closed session to discuss outstanding legal issues regarding EDA and County Airport operations; and an 18-hour working session beginning with an approximately half-hour VDOT presentation on its Smart Scale program and application process.

Matthew Smith, on the podium, opened the VDOT working session presentation on his Smart Scale program, but Adam Campbell, right, quickly took over to guide the board through a PowerPoint on the parameters of the most likely to be successful in obtaining funding through Smart Scale and other VDOT revenue sharing programs. Below, the council listens intently as it tries to figure out how to get its share of the VDOT revenue share. Later in the meeting, council finally approved the requested donation of a 1.5 acre parcel to facilitate Rockland Road. The VDOT railroad flyover expects construction in 2023. County Administrator Ed Daley said it will be the county’s only contribution to a $23.5 million project, $8 million funded by the VDOT and $15.5 million in federal infrastructure grants related to rail access to the Inner Harbor from the Norfolk International Terminal.

The working session then continued with a discussion of a scheduled meeting agenda item on a resolution supporting a tourism-friendly regional statement of a “US Bike Route 211” that would direct cyclists recreational along a preferred route through the relevant counties. This discussion led to a meeting to drop a vote on the resolution to give Fork District Supervisor Vicky Cook time to publicize the initiative to her constituents because, as she noted, the majority of U.S. 211 Local Bike Route in the county is within its district. .

Some safety concerns were expressed, but staff noted that the route chosen for Highway 211 was considered not only a scenic trail, but also a safer trail for cyclists compared to other regional roads. Since there didn’t appear to be any pressing deadline involved in approving membership in the U.S. Bike Route 211 designation, the board cast a vote of support at its April 5 meeting.

The approximately 51-minute working session was also filmed by the county.

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