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Spotsylvania supervisors consider budget to fund core priorities without raising property taxes
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Date published: 4/12/2004
By GEORGE WHITEHURST
"I think we need more positions, but I understand the impact that's going to have on the county because the state's not meeting its obligation," Smith said. "I realize there are many other needs in the county besides law enforcement."
The proposed budget also includes more than $335,000 for six new full-time firefighter/medics, as well as a $125,000 total increase for volunteer agencies.
The plan provides county employees with pay raises of up to 4.3 percent, depending on their job performance.
Rising health insurance and retirement costs--with no corresponding expansion of benefits--for county employees are driving up spending by more than $1.1 million.
"That's one of the most frustrating things about the budget," Wheeler said. "Here is a major expenditure increase that, at the end of the day, provides us with nothing more than what we already have."
The one shadow of doubt over the planning process is the protracted state budget stalemate in Richmond. More than a third of the money in Spotsylvania's budget comes from the state.
The House of Delegates and the state Senate are struggling over whether and how much to raise income, sales and tobacco taxes.
As a result, county officials are uncertain exactly how much state money they will get.
If state lawmakers don't forge their own spending blueprint by June 30--the expiration date for current state and local budgets--Spotsylvania supervisors will face difficult decisions. Lack of any state funds would blow a $117 million hole in Spotsylvania's proposed spending plan, too big a gap for the county's $30 million reserve fund to bridge.
"If we didn't have a state budget and it didn't look like we were going to have one--and I find it difficult to believe that will happen--we would have to sit down with the board and look at the dedicated and non-dedicated state revenues and come up with a specific plan to address the revenue imbalance," Wheeler said.
To reach GEORGE WHITEHURST: 540/374-5438 email@example.com