County officials presented a draft budget for fiscal year 2021 to the Nelson County Board of Supervisors during an introductory budget work session March 5.
A memo addressed to the board of supervisors states the objective of the initial work session was to “provide a summary overview of the FY 20-21 (draft) budget, address any questions the Board may initially have, and, if so determined, to proceed with an in-depth review of the draft budget.”
Presented by County Administrator Steve Carter and Director of Finance Candy McGarry, the proposed budget for fiscal year 2021 is $37,714,610.
Carter noted the county currently is not proposing any increases in local taxes or fees in the draft budget.
“There’s no proposed tax increase, that’s very important. That’s always our goal of course is to balance the budget without tax increases,” he said in a phone interview.
The draft budget also outlines an increase to both salary and benefits for employees totaling just more than $312,000.
McGarry explained to board members the county is projected to have about $882,000 leftover in the budget from the current fiscal year — which she referred to as carryover. This amount, plus an additional roughly $704,000 is projected to become the county’s contingency funding for the next fiscal year.
According to Carter, that contingency funding is not “earmarked” for any specific purpose and it is up to the board’s discretion how to use those funds.
In the draft budget, county officials also maintain funding for school resource officers at $207,131, which includes all four positions within the county, Carter said.
“What we’ve been doing is holding that money in the school resource officer reserve and then as they need it during the fiscal year we’ve transferred it from there into the sheriff department’s budget and because there’s so much ... turnover in that department, it might make sense to keep doing it that way,” McGarry said.
During the work session, board chair and north district supervisor Tommy Harvey expressed the importance of maintaining resource officers at all four schools, especially at Rockfish River Elementary School given its distance from the other schools in the county.
“At Tye River you’ve got two [resource officers] right there within a couple miles of them at the high school ... but we are isolated,” Harvey said.
In a phone interview, Nelson County Sheriff David Hill said there currently are three school resource officers in the county. They are located at Rockfish River Elementary, Nelson County Middle School and Nelson County High School.
The draft budget given to supervisors also includes $741,842 in capital improvement projects for the next fiscal year. That amount, Carter noted, comes mostly from projects involving public safety.
“I think with the exception of the comprehensive plan, the majority of those outlays are for public safety purposes” Carter told board members.
The comprehensive plan update is projected to cost $100,000. Some other projects include $239,000 for radio console upgrades and $312,794 for emergency services vehicles.
As of the introductory work session, the county did not include funding requests from either the Nelson County Sheriff’s Department or the Nelson County School Board. The sheriff’s funding request had been received by the administrator’s office two days prior to the session and could not be included in time for the meeting. The school board is set to vote on its budget during its next regular meeting March 12.
Supervisors have about a dozen planned meetings to discuss the budget throughout the months of March, April and May.
According to the budget calendar, the board of supervisors are scheduled to hold a public hearing May 12 ahead of the budget’s adoption and appropriation which is scheduled to take place June 9.