Tax rates remain unchanged in Surry budget proposal

By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: May 2, 2019 | 3:15 p.m.

The proposed 2020 budget for Surry County will include no tax increase, according to county administrator Jonathan Lynn.

“This coming year we will not incur any additional debt,” Lynn added.  “With our fund balance we can be in a very fortunate position to be able to not have to raise taxes.”

In the board of supervisors packet readily available on the Surry County government website, a complete copy of the proposed budget as well as the letter of explanation accompanying the budget.    One salient section entitled “Balancing the Budget: Budget Development, Challenges & Opportunities” reads as follows: “The Proposed FY 2020 General Fund Operating Budget is $28,754,514, an increase of $3,704,545 or 14.8% over the prior year budget. Most of this increase results from an increased transfer of $3,118,000 in one-time monies from fund balance to the Capital Improvements Fund. Without the CIP transfer, the General Fund increase is $994,565, or 4%. For comparison, the initial Adopted FY 2019 Operating Budget totaled $25,049,969. The FY 2020-2024 Capital Improvement Plan is proposed at $14.91 mil.”

Highlights of the proposed operating budget FY 2020-2024 Capital Improvement Program include:

  • Social Services: Partial funding of the requested local appropriation
  • Education: The budget funds $200,000 of a $240,000 request
  • Various Departments: Funding requests for new positions and additional part time positions
  • Organizations: Level funding for most external agencies and organizations; agencies that have not actively drawn County funds were dropped
  • Various Departments: Only necessary line item increases are recommended

Capital Project Requests: Delay funding requested for public safety equipment for further analysis, project implications on the operating budget, required collaboration amongst project stakeholders and exploration of grant opportunities

By way of explanation of the school piece of the budget, Lynn included the following in his letter accompanying the proposed budget:  “Local contribution to schools & social services funding in an amount of $12.440 million is proposed for the local appropriation to the school fund, an increase of $200,000 from FY19. The school division requested an increase of $240,000 in its recommended budget to primarily support increased wages as mandated by the commonwealth. As the school division implemented a partial increase in FY19, $200,000 is the recommended amount needed for the school division to provide a combined 5% salary Page 7 increased as mandated by the commonwealth. The school division has maintained a level funding structure through relatively lean times through staff reorganizations, program restructuring, and elimination of positions throughout the system. The school division has continued to improve its metrics with increased graduation rates and maintaining of accreditation while continuing to provide the utmost service to students of Surry County.”

The public hearing on the proposed budget is set for May 2 during the regular meeting of the BOS. During that time, and any time prior to the final vote on the budget by the board, citizens can contact their board representatives with questions, concerns, or suggestions.  Because legally there must be a week’s delay after the public hearing before the board acts on the budget, the board will have an additional meeting on May 9 with the intent of adopting the budget.

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