The Patrick County Board of Supervisors approved the fiscal year 2022-2023 budget at a recent meeting.
The budget, which passed with a 3-1 vote from the board, totaled $67,237,870. It begins July 1.
Denise Stirewalt, of the Peters Creek District, voted against the spending plan. She said she agreed with funding only a portion of the local match for the Patrick County School division, and only the state mandated salary increases for its personnel.
Kurt Bozenmayer raised questions about the county’s budget.
As the Smith River representative on the county’s Tourism Advisory Council (TAC), Bozenmayer said he was concerned when the county administration reported the county was “out of compliance” with the state law in spending county funds above the 20 percent portion of the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), and the board’s December vote to increase the county’s percentage, from 20 percent to 40 percent.
“In 2019 and 2020 fiscal years, the TOT income was reported as slightly less than $400,000. So, the increase would mean $160,000 to the county to cover expenses, and $240,000 to tourism and marketing programs,” he said.
Bozenmayer also noted that the projected expenses to the county are $95,000, according to the 2023 budget worksheet.
“However, the budget lines for salary” for an administrative assistant and a marketing director, “still total around $70,000,” although both full-time employees left those positions and were replaced by part-time employees, he said.
Bozenmayer said he was curious about who decided to replace them with part-time personnel, the reason for that change, and why the salary listed for the marketing director position has increased.
He said the reported TOT in the budget documents also decreased, from about $400,000 in 2020 to only $85,000 in 2021, while it’s reported that nearly $600,000 was spent on TOT-related expenses as of March 10, according to the budget worksheet dated March 23.
“While I don’t feel that the board is necessarily obligated to explain to the taxpayers every change in the 222 pages of the budget, I am disappointed that the half-million-dollar revenue swings and major personnel changes to the tourism department are not even disclosed to TAC,” he said.
County Administrator Geri Hazelwood said the biggest expense in the budget was $6,733,000 designated to the Patrick County Public Schools system. The amount includes $126,647 more than the required local match.
“We gave the $100,000 to go above the $6.6 million, which was the required local effort and the required local match, so they would be able to carry that over and use that for their capital needs,” she said.
An additional $26,647 also was added. “We kept waiting on the state to pass their budget, and when they finally did, it changed the calc tool and it actually went up a little bit more, and we had to go up more,” she said.
Hazelwood said the funds that exceed the required local match will be used to pay School Resource Officers (SROs).
She added that she was glad the two boards were able to work together and continue to try to do things better in the best interest of the county as a whole.
“That’s what we strive for each year. Even though it’s been challenging at best, I think the board did a really good job in what they’ve done this year,” she said.
The budget also includes $2,192,857 to be used for the school debt service for corrected debt payments and increased fees.
Local law enforcement received $3,065,781 in funding; the jail received $2,132,915. The E-911 department will get $609,202, which is an increase of $2,716 from the advertised budget.
Courtroom security received $243,213 in county funds, and county-paid deputies were allocated $524,952.
All “full-time employees were given a five percent salary increase,” Hazelwood said.
The county budgeted $1,701,353 in total for public works, like maintenance, on all county buildings. The Transfer Station is set to receive $760,254 and the county’s Maintenance Department will get $398,904.
For Health and Welfare, the county allocated $3,777,818. This includes $100,000 for Children’s Services Act (CSA), and $2,707,139 for Voluntary Placement Agreements (VPA).
Funding of $132,939 was approved for Economic Development, and $334,441 was allocated to Tourism, which includes 70 percent of the Tourism Coordinator’s salary and benefits, with 50 percent of the salary and benefits coming from the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). The remaining 30 percent of the budget comes from part of the $242,159 given to Parks & Recreation.
Volunteer fire departments will receive $67,250; volunteer rescue was allocated $46,800. Emergency Services received $226,117.
The volunteer agencies received $405,603, Hazelwood said, adding it represents level funding. Some American Rescue Plan Act (APRA) funds were used.
“We are working on putting together a committee to talk about” how squads can access “the funds, and we have not done that yet. We’re working to see who will be on said committee,” she said.
Hazelwood said the budget also included a level funding of $280,782 for the Stuart branch of the Blue Ridge Regional Library System.
In other matters, the board:
*Approved the meeting minutes.
*Approved the bills, claims, and appropriations.
*Adopted the Hazard Plan Mitigation Resolution.
*Approved the Children’s Service Act (CSA) appropriation.
*Made a resolution approving the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) secondary 6-year plan for fiscal years 2022-2023 through 2027-2028.
*Heard a U.S. Route 58 Lover’s Leap project update from VDOT representative David Kiser.
*Adopted the redistricting plan.
*Approved the ARPA requests for a tractor for the county’s maintenance department for $43,601, the Emergency Medical Services’ (EMS) request for 10 pieces of turnout gear worth $45,000, and a camera for the Patrick County Jail worth $18,656.
*Heard from EMS Coordinator Scottie Cassell about the need for a fully-funded and staffed second truck for Station 8.
*Heard County Administrator Geri Hazelwood’s administrator’s report.
*Heard Supervisors’ reports.
*Renewed Piedmont Community Services’ lease to go to September 2023.
*Heard from Norma Bozenmayer about the Addressing Addiction conference she attended.
*Heard from Stuart Baptist Church Pastor Thomas Walker about the July 4 celebration the church will be holding.
Clayton Kendrick, of the Mayo River District, did not attend the meeting.