County budget passes with little fanfare, more ata boys

By the time Chesterfield’s fiscal year 2013 and 2014 budgets were approved last week, it was all over but the shoutin’.

The work sessions, budget and audit committee meetings and public meetings had been finished as the BOS committees had covered these during the public meeting on March 14. There was public comment on budget issues during the March 14 meeting but not during the March 28 meeting when items in the budget were approved.

The Board approved budget issues such as utilities fee changes on utility price changes such as water and sewer; proposed tax rates, which remained the same as last year at 95 cents per $100 value of the access value of residential property; CDBG/HOME public hearing, covering the influx of Federal and state funds into the local budget; The CIP public hearing, considering facility projects such as fire stations and libraries and the Budget public hearing, which got the most public participation at the public hearing last month.

“We will not add operational (the cost of operation particular facilities) funding until we have an inflection point in real estate value,” said Dan Gecker, the chairman of the BOS.

Mr. Gecker said the surplus from the last budget cycle had been plowed back into the current bi-annual budget.

“We factored in the budget surplus and brought it forward and shaped the budget to fit this board.” said Gecker.

There continues to be a question about how the Virginia budget will affect the local budget. The BOS is unsure how it will affect Chesterfield, but the Chairman feels confident that it won’t have much of an effect on the general budget but more likely on the school budget.

Director of Finance and Management, Alan Carmody, told the board during his presentation that his department has set aside “or but brackets around” the funding Chesterfield may or may not see from the General Assembly.

Both the Chairman and Carmody said that GRTC buses will have some General Assembly funding, but that it should not be read as this county waiting to discontinue the routes or expand bus service in the county.

“The new dollars in this budget will be primarily dedicated to public safety and education to very key components of a high quality of life that have been reflected in some of the discussions prior to this presentation.”

We’ve talked about specific CIP (Capital Improvement Programs) programs that have been put on hold, specifically, the Harrowgate fire station and the Reams Road Library.
Carmody said that his department and the board have talked about some projects that have been put on hold. He said his department had some indication that some public safety projects such as the Harrowgate fire station could move ahead, “but we are still looking for your [BOS] guidance.” Carmody said.  

Gecker gave the BOS and the budget and management a pat on the back for staying ahead of the curve on the last few budget cycles.

“Our neighbors have been struggling with their budgets. We had the foresight to make our cuts two years ago… and it has worked.” Gecker said. The county is in a much better position than we could have been he told the small number in attendence in the public meeting room.   

“I would like to thank the Citizens Advisory Committee,” said Bermuda Supervisor Dorothy Jaeckle. “I think they give a lot of good advice from the private sector.”

“We’re not going back to where the community was four years ago but we’re going to move forward to a new day,” said Jay Stegmaier, county administrator.  

Stegmaier pointed to the budget and management staff when he said, “You put us on the right path four years ago. These citizens [staff] that sit up here now deserve credit for what they have done.”

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