Supervisors set to vote on budget

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    The Patrick County Board of Supervisors is set to vote April 9 on the total more than $55.7 million spending plan for the new fiscal year that begins July 1. But first, the board must determine the amount of local funds the county will provide to the Patrick County School division.

    A meeting of the school and county budget liaison committees is scheduled to be held today, April 4, at 10 a.m. in the second floor conference room of the Patrick County Administration Building.

    School officials initially requested a little more than $8.4 million in local funds for fiscal 2018-19.

    Schools Superintendent Bill Sroufe said he was told by County Administrator Tom Rose that the county planned to fund the division the minimum required by law.

    After the supervisors proposed leaving tax rates at the current levels, Sroufe said he also realized the county would not have the revenue to fund the amount initially requested. As a result, he said he amended the school division’s budget proposal and requested $7.7 million in local funds.

    At an earlier meeting, supervisors reached a consensus to cap the county’s contribution to the division at $7.1 million. They again discussed the school division’s budget proposal, and the local funding cap, following a March 29 public hearing on the tax rates.

    The decrease in the amount of county funds will mean the division must cut an estimated $600,000 to $1.3 million in expenses, according to discussion at the meeting.

    Karl Weiss, of the Blue Ridge District, said that by law, the county only controls the amount of the local contribution. It has no control over where the school division makes the cuts, regardless of whether cuts are made to athletics, staff or elsewhere.

    The county asked their auditor to calculate the amount of local match that is required by law. According to discussion at the meeting, that amount was $7.1 million, including debt service. However, the total did not include the amount of a lease agreement for school buses.

    Lock Boyce, chairman, said he would entertain a motion to approve the suggested local contribution to the division.

    Crystal Harris, of the Smith River District, said she was not prepared to vote until after the budget committees meet.

    During recent discussions about the budget, the supervisors also commented and/or questioned expenses in other departments, including increased costs of water and sewer; mowing; emergency services and creating a consistent method for toning out emergency calls.

    Supervisors asked county staff to check with the affected department heads for clarification purposes. All were resolved at the March 29 meeting.

    The county’s total budget for the upcoming fiscal year represents an $888,374, or 1.62 percent, increase over the $54,819,635 in the current year.

    In other matters, supervisors:

    *Learned the Patrick Springs Soup Kitchen and the Salvation Army entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to work together to serve Patrick residents.

    The Salvation Army agreed in the document to provide a Salvation Army social worker twice each month to help local residents who may need help with utility and rent costs, food assistance and refer clients to a clothing closet.

    “This is a really big deal,” Boyce said, noting it marks the first time the Salvation Army will have a local presence. “I hope this is a long partnership,” he added.

    *Approved a recommendation by Lisa Price Hughes, resident engineer with the Virginia Department of Transportation, to apply $54,904 in leftover revenue sharing project funds to road work on Squirrel Creek Road. The funds could not be used on projects other than those approved for revenue sharing. However, by approving the use of the funds for improvements to Squirrel Creek Road, the board freed up funds in a different category that can be tapped for road improvements to continue on areas of Belcher Mountain Road. A portion of those improvements are scheduled for this year. Improvements along the Edge View area will begin in 2020.